WASHINGTON — Impeachment pressure mounting, the House worked swiftly Monday to try to oust President Donald Trump from office, pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act first in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.
Trump faces a single charge — "incitement of insurrection" – in an impeachment resolution that could go to a vote by mid-week. First, Democrats called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before Jan. 20, when Democrat Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.
In all, these are stunning final moments for Trump's presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare that he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol in a deadly siege on Wednesday.
"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government," reads the four-page impeachment bill.
"He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office," it reads.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recalling lawmakers to Washington for votes as more Republicans say it's time for Trump to resign. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."
During an interview on "60 Minutes" aired Sunday, Pelosi invoked the Watergate era when Republicans in the Senate told President Richard Nixon, "It's over."
"That's what has to happen now," she said.
On Monday, a House resolution calling on Vice President Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office was blocked by Republicans. However, the full House is set to hold a roll call vote on that resolution on Tuesday, and it is expected to pass.
After that, Pelosi said Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next, the House would proceed to impeachment. A vote could come Wednesday.
Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on such a course, which would involve invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution with a vote by a majority of the Cabinet to oust Trump before he leaves office.
The impeachment bill from Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and and Jerrold Nadler of New York draws from Trump's own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases, and Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.
The bill of impeachment details Trump's pressure on state officials in Georgia to "find" him more votes and his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he encouraged thousands of supporters to "fight like hell" and march to the building.
The mob overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden's victory over Trump in the Electoral College.
"We will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat," Pelosi said in a letter late Sunday to colleagues emphasizing the need for quick action.
"The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action."
Republican Sen. Toomey said he doubted impeachment could be done before Biden is inaugurated, even though a growing number of lawmakers say that step is necessary to ensure Trump can never hold elected office again.
"I think the president has disqualified himself from ever, certainly, serving in office again," Toomey said. "I don't think he is electable in any way."
Murkowski, long exasperated with the president, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply "needs to get out." A third, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., did not go that far, but on Sunday he warned Trump to be "very careful" in his final days in office.
On impeachment, House Democrats would likely delay for 100 days sending articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial, to allow Biden to focus on other priorities.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to "talk about ridiculous things like 'Let's impeach a president'" with just days left in office.
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sent over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he would "vote the right way" if the matter were put in front of him.
The Democratic effort to stamp Trump's presidential record — for the second time — with the indelible mark of impeachment advanced rapidly after the riot.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Sunday that his group had 200-plus co-sponsors.
Potentially complicating Pelosi's decision about impeachment was what it meant for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he had long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress did "is for them to decide."