It was a single, extraordinary act by Donald Trump that quickly convinced congressional Democrats that they were obliged to consider an impeachment measure on the 1,449th day of his presidency. Accordingly, they are considering a simple, single article of impeachment, which Nancy Pelosi has begun circulating in her caucus, as NBC News reports:
Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland distributed a draft article of impeachment titled “Incitement of Insurrection,” as the House held a pro forma session on Monday.
The draft, provided to NBC News by Cicilline’s office, charges: “Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
It says Trump has demonstrated he would be a “threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.” And it concludes: “President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
The draft article is all about Trump’s speech at his White House rally on January 6, in which he “willfully made statements that encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—imminent lawless action at the Capitol. Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.” The article also mentions his January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” enough additional Trump votes to flip that state long after it had certified Biden’s win, but it’s as background showing “his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election” — the essential context of the January 6 outrage.
The simplicity of the article is essential since there will be no time for hearings or investigations. Trump is being arraigned for televised acts he and his followers committed with the whole world watching. There’s not much to discuss other than whether his conduct rises to the level of impeachable acts, which most Democrats regard as all but self-evident.
The draft article already had 112 Democratic – but no Republican – cosponsors by Friday afternoon.
House Democrats don’t have a lot of time to decide what to do and get it done. The tentative plan is for the Judiciary Committee to report the article in time for a floor vote by the middle of next week. Given the timeframe, it’s significant that the Cicciline-Lieu-Raskin draft specifies a ban on holding future office as part of the sanctions the House would urge the Senate to impose. By the time the Senate could act, removal of Trump from office could be a moot point.