Friday, June 18, 2021

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    House Plans Vote to Demand That Pence Seize Power From Trump

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    Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

    The House is poised to vote Tuesday evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of his duties by invoking the 25th Amendment. The vote comes a day after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment charging the president for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, where rioters ransacked the seat of American government and killed a Capitol Police officer.

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    The motion on Monday set off a high-stakes standoff between two branches of government, as House Democrats pressured Mr. Pence to intervene. If he did not, the Democrats promised a vote on Wednesday charging the president with “inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

    Republicans on Monday objected to unanimously passing the resolution, which asked the vice president to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

    Mr. Trump also met with Mr. Pence on Monday for the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault, which had put the vice president in danger.

    The two talked for an hour or more in the Oval Office in what amounted to a fraught peace summit meeting with the remainder of the Trump presidency at stake.

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    An administration official who declined to be identified speaking about the sensitive situation said the two had “a good conversation” but would not say whether the issue of the 25th Amendment came up.

    The House, however, plans to move swiftly, beginning a debate on the impeachment resolution on Wednesday morning and marching toward a vote late in the day unless Mr. Pence intervenes.

    The vice president has already indicated that he was unlikely to force the president aside, and no one in either party expected Mr. Trump to step down. With that in mind, Democrats had already begun preparing a lengthier impeachment report documenting the president’s actions and the destruction that followed to accompany their charge.

    They were confident they had the votes to make Mr. Trump the first president ever to be impeached twice.

    The impeachment drive came as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. signaled more clearly than before that he would not stand in the way of the impeachment proceeding, telling reporters in Newark, Del., that his primary focus was trying to minimize the effect an all-consuming trial in the Senate might have on his first days in office.

    He said he had consulted with lawmakers about the possibility they could “bifurcate” the proceedings in the Senate, such that half of each day would be spent on the trial and half on the confirmation of his cabinet and other nominees.

    Six thousand troops from six states have already arrived in Washington, according to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson.
    Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

    With the resignation of Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary for the Homeland Security Department, on Monday, the task of coordinating the security of the upcoming inauguration, will now fall to Peter T. Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who will replace Mr. Wolf for the remaining days in the Trump administration.

    The Secret Service, which falls under the Homeland Security Department, is leading the security operations for the event on Jan. 20, and officials are bracing for heightened threats of violence.

    Before his resignation, Mr. Wolf announced that enhanced security measures would begin on Jan. 13 instead of Jan. 19 as initially planned.

    Mr. Wolf said he did so “in light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration.”

    On Saturday, the mayor of Washington, Muriel E. Bowser, sent a firmly worded letter to the Department of Homeland Security, asking officials to move up security operations and requesting a disaster declaration, which would free federal funding for the inauguration. President Trump granted the request on Monday night.

    Ms. Bowser’s call to action came as law enforcement officers in several states made arrests related to the assault on the Capitol.

    Security experts have warned that some far-right extremist groups have now started to focus attention on Inauguration Day and are already discussing an assault similar to the one on the Capitol last week. Sixteen groups — some of them armed and most of them hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have already registered to stage protests in Washington.

    The National Guard plans to deploy up to 15,000 troops to the nation’s capital for the inauguration.

    Six thousand troops from six states have already arrived, according to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson. Defense officials have not made a decision on whether the troops will be armed, but they indicated that even if they were initially unarmed, the troops would not be far away from their weaponry.

    “We have to make sure the message is clear that you cannot be a sitting Congress member and incite an insurrection,” Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, said.
    Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

    Progressive House Democrats on Monday introduced legislation that would allow a committee to investigate and potentially expel Republican lawmakers who had participated in efforts to subvert the results of the November election.

    The legislation would direct the House ethics committee to “investigate, and issue a report on” lawmakers who had sought to overturn the election, and to determine if they “should face sanction, including removal from the House of Representatives.”

    House lawmakers can be expelled from their seats under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies elected officials who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

    Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, began drafting the bill as she and other House lawmakers sheltered in place during the storming of the Capitol last week. The resolution, which has 47 co-sponsors, names Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama and Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri as leaders of the effort by 147 Republicans to overturn the results of the election.

    Ms. Bush said in an interview that she did not know ultimately how many members of Congress should be expelled, but expected to learn the number from an investigation of the Ethics Committee.

    “Even if it’s just a few, we have to make sure the message is clear that you cannot be a sitting Congress member and incite an insurrection and work to overturn an election,” she said.

    The disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment was originally enacted to limit the influence of former Confederates in the Reconstruction era.

    Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York called out one of his Republican colleagues, Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, in a post on Twitter on Sunday supporting the legislation.

    “We didn’t come to the United States Congress to tolerate calls for insurrection from our colleagues,” Mr. Bowman wrote. “We need to pass @CoriBush’s resolution calling for their expulsion, and we need to do it immediately.”

    President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in front of the White House in last week.
    Pete Marovich for The New York Times

    Here is an overview of some of the broader forms of legal jeopardy — not related to impeachment — President Trump may be facing after his speech at a rally of his supporters, whom he dispatched to the Capitol shortly before they rioted last week.

    If a grand jury were to be persuaded that Mr. Trump intentionally incited his followers to violence, Section 373 of Title 18 of the United States code makes it a felony to induce or even to try to persuade someone to engage in the criminal “use of physical force against property or against the person of another.”

    And the District of Columbia has a criminal law — Section 1322 of Title 22 of its code — that makes it a crime to incite a riot.

    But he will not be charged with a crime while he is president. The Justice Department, dating to the Nixon administration during Watergate and reaffirmed by the Clinton administration during the Whitewater-Lewinsky scandal, has taken the position that presidents may not be charged with a crime while in office.

    Nor would it be easy for him to be charged after he is no longer president.

    Because of First Amendment protections for freedom of speech, prosecutors would have to meet a particularly high burden of proof. The main Supreme Court precedent, the 1969 ruling Brandenberg v. Ohio, held that even advocating the use of force and violating the law is protected speech “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

    “Saying things that foreseeably move some audience members to act illegally isn’t enough,” Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in First Amendment law, wrote in a blog post for the libertarian magazine Reason.

    “Speaking recklessly isn’t enough,” he added.

    Still, there has been agreement across ideological lines that Mr. Trump incited the riot.

    Former Attorney General William P. Barr, who was one of Mr. Trump’s most important enablers and allies before he resigned last month, has interpreted his conduct as “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress,” calling Mr. Trump’s actions “inexcusable” and “a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

    Exterior view of the White House.
    Doug Mills/The New York Times

    With just days remaining in his term, House Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment in Congress charging President Trump for a second time with committing “high crimes and misdemeanors,” this time for his role in inciting a mob that stormed the Capitol last week.

    Impeaching a president with less than two weeks left in his term presents an extraordinary challenge. But if Mr. Trump is impeached in the House and subsequently convicted by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and removed from office, the Senate could then vote to bar him from ever holding office again.

    The Constitution says that the Senate, after voting to convict an impeached president, can consider “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” This would be determined by a second vote, requiring only a simple majority of senators to successfully disqualify him from holding office in the future. Such a vote could be appealing not just to Democrats but also possibly to many Republicans who have set their sights on the presidency.

    Mr. Trump, who is said to be contemplating another run for president in 2024, has just eight days remaining in office, presenting an impeachment timeline for congressional Democrats that is tight, but not impossible. As soon as the House votes to adopt an article of impeachment, it can immediately transmit it to the Senate, which must promptly begin a trial.

    Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has said that an impeachment trial could not be convened before Mr. Trump leaves office, but Constitutional scholars say that a Senate trial and a vote for disqualification could happen after Jan. 20.

    Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, suggested that the Senate trial be delayed several months into President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency. And Mr. Biden said he had spoken to House and Senate Democrats about whether it would be possible to “bifurcate” Congressional business, splitting days between impeachment and confirming his nominees and passing his agenda.

    But because of the stakes and the lack of a precedent for disqualifying a president from future office, the matter would probably go before the Supreme Court.

    Former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton will join President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his inauguration next week.
    Jim Chapin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to call on a divided nation to come together at a time of political crisis and a deadly pandemic with an “America United” Inauguration Day theme, his inaugural committee announced Monday.

    He will also pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery with three previous presidents, who represent both major parties. President Trump announced last week that he would not be attending the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington.

    Mr. Biden’s message reflects “the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together and creates a path to a brighter future,” the inaugural committee said in a statement Monday. “Our political divisions are seeking to tear us apart and continue to test the strength of our democracy. The moment calls for sober reflection and the mustering of our national resolve. It is also a moment of hope.”

    Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also plan to visit Arlington National Cemetery after his swearing in, where they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, according to the inaugural committee’s statement.

    Underscoring the theme of unity — and drawing attention to Mr. Trump’s highly unusual absence — they will be joined at the hallowed cemetery by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    The inauguration will also feature a “field of flags,” an art display on the National Mall that will include about 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes representing every state and territory, as well as 56 light pillars, according to the committee. The flags “will represent the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C.,” for the event, the statement said.

    Mr. Biden had already been planning a much smaller inauguration because of the coronavirus. Last week, the inaugural committee released details affirming that Mr. Biden would not make the traditional procession from Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House before crowd-lined streets.

    The inaugural committee is planning virtual celebrations across the country, for broadcast online and on television, reminiscent of those during the summer Democratic National Convention.

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