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As 176 House Members Back Article of Impeachment, Watchdog Says 'Future of American Democracy Is on the Line'

The resolution co-led by Rep. David Cicilline says Trump "will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office."

Protesters supporting President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Protesters supporting President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Rep. David Cicilline said Saturday that 176 House members have now backed his impeachment resolution that accuses President Donald Trump of "incitement to insurrection."

The article of impeachment Cicilline (D-R.I.) drafted with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) centers on Trump's Wednesday comments to the extremist mob in in Washington, D.C. "that encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—imminent lawless action at the Capitol" and that interfered with the congressional certification of the presidential election results.

Trump's remarks that day were "consistent with his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election," and "he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office," a draft of document states.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) also released articles of impeachment this week, and new polling out Friday shows 57% of Americans in favor of Trump's removal.

"It is the hope of members that the president will immediately resign," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Friday. "But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin's 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment."

"Accordingly," Pelosi said, "the House will preserve every option—including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach, or a privileged resolution for impeachment."

A group of progressive House Democrats had on Thursday urged the chamber—which adjourned that day—to move with greater urgency and swiftly reconvene, especially given Vice President Mike Pence's apparent opposition to invoking the 25th Amendment and a number of resignations from Trump's Cabinet. 

In a letter led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to congressional leadership, the lawmakers said that even the small window of time before President-elect Joe Biden takes office "may prove to be detrimental to our nation—every day that [Trump] remains in office is a serious threat to our democracy and our national security."

The lawmakers also warned of "a dangerous precedent if there are no consequences for a sitting U.S. president inciting violence as a last-ditch effort to remain in power against the will of the American people who voted him out of office."

Other observers said that Pelosi's Friday conversation with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to ensure precautions are in place to prevent Trump from "accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike" was clear evidence of the need to act with the utmost urgency.

"If the threat is so serious that you have to ask one of Trump's own appointees to keep him from firing nuclear missiles, the threat is serious enough to impeach him today and not wait until next week," said Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics.

If the House approves of impeachment—which would make Trump the only president to ever be impeached twice—his removal would still require 2/3 of the GOP-controlled Senate to vote in favor of conviction.

According to CNN, at least some Republicans are on board:

Two Republican members of Congress who are former Trump allies told CNN they would support impeachment against the president over his role in Wednesday's deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol if the articles are reasonable. One member said, "I think you will have GOP members vote for impeachment."

While the window is narrowing for an impeachment vote and trial before Trump's term ends, one of the GOP lawmakers said the proceedings could be done quickly.
 
"We experienced the attack," the member said. "We don't need long hearings on what happened."

In a Friday interview with the Anchorage Daily News, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said: "I want [Trump] to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage."

Echoing the Thursday message from progressive lawmakers, government watchdog group CREW tweeted Saturday, "If Trump isn't removed by the 25th Amendment or impeachment, and his enablers aren't expelled from Congress, it signals to future leaders that they can get away with the same behavior."

"The future of American democracy is on the line," the group said.

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