Congressional Democrats' rush to impeachment has put Joe Biden in a difficult position before he even takes the oath of office. Is he following the desires of his fellow Democratic Party leaders to punish Donald Trump for stirring up an angry mob running wild in the US Capitol? Or is Biden fulfilling his own oft-repeated campaign promise to weigh the desires of the Americans who voted against him as well as the historical numbers who voted for him?
The nation is struggling to pick up the pieces and come to terms with last week's uprising in the Capitol by extremists backing Trump. At least five people, including a police officer, died. Hundreds of others were threatened and terrorized. Another Capitol police officer on duty died of suicide over the weekend, his family announced Monday.
Democrats place the blame squarely on President Trump's shoulders, but not just the Democrats. The White House and administration staff have resigned en masse, including three members of Trump's cabinet. Many prominent Republicans – including several former supporters – have denounced Trump for instigating the Capitol attack. But the supporters are not yet convinced. A new Frank Luntz poll released Monday found that only 25% of Trump voters agree that he is largely responsible for the attack on the Capitol, while 62% said he was only "a little" or "just a little" to blame.
So the question for the president-to-be is quite simple: in such a hyper-partisan political environment, is compromise even possible?
After the catastrophic events of January 6, lawmakers and pundits have regularly invoked the words of Ben Franklin – that the Founding Fathers rejected a monarchy in favor of "a republic, if you can keep it". – along with President Lincoln's prophetic statement that "a house divided against itself cannot stand".
Two months after winning the presidency, Biden's post-election words intended to lower the temperature in Washington and across the country seem outdated as he refuses to state clearly whether he is behind the pursuit of his party to the 25 backs.th Alteration or a second deposit.
"Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now," Biden said in his first speech on November 7 after being declared the winner. "This is the time to heal."
But Biden was not counting on a gruesome attack on the Capitol, nor on Trump's steadfast refusal to admit defeat, which put his commitment to unity to the test while being pressured by other party leaders seeking revenge. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and new Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer refuse calls from a bipartisan group of House members to stop the drive to impeach Trump on his way out the door. They want to let all Republicans know if they will protect Trump from being fired, even though he will be gone in eight days.
With about a week to go before Biden is inaugurated, House Democrats will impeach Trump for the second time this week. The only question is whether they will send the impeachment articles to the Senate right away or wait for Biden to complete his first 100 days and confirm most, if not all, of his cabinet.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has suggested that the Democrats wait for that period to allow Biden to assemble his government and begin his agenda, while House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said he wants to send the articles to the Senate immediately.
"Doing nothing is not an option," an experienced Democratic agent told RealClearPolitics. Pelosi has admitted that her interest in impeachment is to prevent Trump from fleeing again in 2024 – so the impeachment attempt has become a way for Democrats to permanently cancel Trump and any chance of a political resurgence.
Many voices, so far unheard, are pushing for a less polarizing start to Biden & # 39; s presidency. Members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, along with several centrist senators, are instead pushing for congressional disapproval of Trump, arguing that a last-ditch impeachment effort will backfire on Biden and the Democrats by more inciting violence and turning Trump into a martyr. Representative Tom Reed, a Republican from New York, has circulated a letter pleading with Biden to reject what he was "unexpected". impeachment, which would be voted without the deliberations of a traditional hearing.
Constitutional scientist Jonathan Turley has argued that such a move would only "inflame the political divisions in our country" and insisted that Trump's future should be left to "history and voters" should be left & # 39; – not canceled by Congress & # 39; s fiat. Turley, who also protested the first impeachment, condemned Trump's January 6 speech to his supporters as "reckless and wrong" even before storming the capital. He also praised Vice President Mike Pence for defying Trump by rejecting his claim that election votes "bounced back". could be to the states.
Yet none of this is a license for Congress to rage through the Constitution with the same abandon as last week's rioters at the Capitol, Turley said. wrote Monday.
Nonetheless, Pelosi is moving forward by demanding that Pence call in the 25th Amendment to disqualify Trump and remove him from office. For such a move, Pence would have to convene the cabinet, the majority of which would then declare that Trump would not be able to act as president. With the three cabinet members already gone, it seems like a pointless ultimatum, especially after Pence and Trump met on Monday and agreed to work together for the final week of the presidency.
Pence's rejection of this Democratic demand means that House Democrats will vote on a single article of impeachment as soon as possible on Wednesday.
As his presidency begins, Biden seems torn by these developments. He could try to change the tone in Washington by leaning on his party's leaders to dispense with another divisive impeachment battle against Trump. But so far he has not. On Monday, he expressed his willingness to keep the first 100 days "split" and to share the progress of his initiatives with a Senate impeachment lawsuit.
"Can we deal with impeachment for half a day and have my people nominated and confirmed for half a day?" he reflected on Monday when he pressed the matter after receiving his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. "I have not yet received an answer from the MP," he said.
Others quickly filled the leadership vacuum to remind Biden that during the failed impeachment lawsuit in early 2020, the Senate was working on the same twin tracks.
Laurence Tribe, an ardent anti-Trump Harvard law professor, said the Senate, "if half accountable," will hold a short impeachment procedure as soon as possible. Tribe wrote a book on the Trump impeachment case, along with Joshua Matz, who served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's impeachment process in late 2019.
"An impeachment trial need not stand in the way of a forward-looking agenda for the Senate," Tribe tweeted Monday evening. "More and more it looks like that's the way forward: split days, half charges against charges, half other cases."
So much for unity and turning the page on Donald J. Trump.
. (tagsToTranslate) 25th Amendment (t) Joe Biden (t) Donald Trump (t) impeachment