- House Democrats have officially taken the first step to impeach President Trump for the second time, filing an article of impeachment Monday that charges him with “incitement of insurrection.”
- The members also introduced a resolution demanding that Vice President Pence invoke the 25th amendment and declare Trump unfit for office.
- The measure is expected to be voted on by the House Tuesday, and once passed, House Speaker Pelosi has said Pence will have 24 hours to respond before Democrats move forward with impeachment.
- In addition to losing his $200k a year pension, his life-time secret service security detail, and his travel allowance, if Trump is impeached and convicted, the Senate could also block him from running for federal office ever again.
- However, conviction requires a 2/3 majority, and no Republican Senators have publicly said they will support impeachment.
House Pushes For Trump Removal
With just nine more days until President Donald Trump leaves office, House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment Monday, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
The members also rolled out a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment, effectively declaring Trump unfit for office and installing himself as the president for his remaining days in office.
House Republicans have already blocked the first attempt to pass this resolution, meaning Democrats will have to bring it to a full House vote, which they are expected to do tomorrow. Once passed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) has said Pence will have 24 hours to act before Democrats take matters into their own hands and move the impeachment article to the floor for a vote.
There have been contradictory reports as to whether Pence will take this route. Last week, The New York Times reported that he was opposed to invoking the 25th. However, on Sunday, an insider close to the vice president told CNN that he had not yet ruled it out.
Pence’s hesitation may also be representative of the other hurdles the decision faces. In addition to the vice president, a majority of Trump’s Cabinet would also need to agree to deploy the 25th Amendment.
While there have been reports of discussions among some Cabinet members, it remains unclear if a majority support it. That factor is further complicated by the recent resignations of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who have now removed themselves from the process.
Democratic leaders have pushed for this method of removal because it would be faster than impeachment, but many other members of the party have said they favor the latter because there would be more consequences for the outgoing president.
If Trump were to be impeached and convicted, he could lose his $200k a year pension, his life-time secret service security detail, and his travel allowance. The move would also enable the Senate to vote by a simple majority to ban Trump — who has openly floated running for president in 2024 — from ever holding federal office again.
However, there is a big catch. While Democrats will have a simple majority once the winners of Georgia’s runoff elections are sworn in, in order for Trump to face any of the scenarios outlined above, he would need to first be convicted by the Senate — a process that requires 2/3 of the vote.
Many Republicans have said they believe Trump should resign or be removed, no Senate Republicans have outright said they favor impeachment. So far, only Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Ne.) has said he would consider convicting the president. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have both said they want Trump to resign, but neither has directly supported impeachment.
While speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Toomey described Trump’s action as “an impeachable offense,” but argued said there is not enough time to impeach.
His remarks also raise another issue: whether or not a president can be impeached and convicted after they leave office. The House could act quickly to make Trump the first president ever to be impeached twice, but the Senate must hold trials before they can bring the issue to the floor.
Those trials could take weeks, if not months, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explicitly said in a memo released this weekend they would not even begin until Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration.
Democrats are also worried that impeachment proceedings in the Senate would hold up Biden’s first few days in office, a fact that McConnell seemed to promise in his memo, where he detailed how the process would impact Cabinet nominations and Biden’s push for more coronavirus relief.
While speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” this weekend, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said that Pelosi may wait to send the article to the Senate.
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles sometime after that,” he said.
Biden, for his part, has not said whether he believes Trump should be impeached but has echoed the desire for it to not interfere with his first few days in office.
“What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” the president-elect told reporters Friday. “I think it’s important we get on with the business of getting him out of office. The quickest way that will happen is us being sworn in on the 20th.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Business Insider) (The New York Times)
Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena
The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.
Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.
In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.
Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.
Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee.
That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.
After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.
Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.
Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts
The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.
It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same.
The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively — are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.
Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.
As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.
Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December
The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.
Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily
The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.
The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.
After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.
The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday.
The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.
“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.
The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession.
Major Hurdles Remain
While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.
Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain.
Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.
Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.
Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.
Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.
Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.
In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul.
As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported.
It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent
California is now the eighth state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent after it temporarily adopted the policy for elections held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
CA Approves Universal Voting by Mail
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Monday requiring every registered voter in the state to be mailed a ballot at least 29 days before an election, whether they request it or not.
Assembly Bill 37 makes permanent a practice that was temporarily adopted for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which officially takes effect in January, also extends the time mail ballots have to arrive at elections offices from three days to seven days after an election. Voters can still choose to cast their vote in person if they prefer.
Supporters of the policy have cheered the move, arguing that proactively sending ballots to registered voters increases turnout.
“Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), said during a Senate committee hearing in July.
Meanwhile opponents — mostly Republicans — have long cast doubts about the safety of mail-in voting, despite a lack of evidence to support their claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. That strategy, however, has also faced notable pushback from some that a lot of Republicans who say it can actually hurt GOP turnout.
Others May Follow
The new legislation probably isn’t too surprising for California, where over 50% of votes cast in general elections have been through mail ballots since 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, many believe California will be followed by similar legislation from Democrats across the country as more Republican leaders move forward with elections bills that significantly limit voting access.
Newsome signed 10 other measures Monday changing election and campaign procedures, including a bill that would require anyone advocating for or against a candidate to stand farther away from a polling place. Another bill increases penalties for candidates who use campaign funds for personal expenses while a third measure increases reporting requirements for limited liability corporations that engage in campaign activity.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.
“Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”
The news regarding California came just in time for National Voter Registration day today, giving Americans another reminder to make sure they’re registered in their states. For more information on how to register, visit Vote.gov or any of the other resources linked below.