United States election officials say ‘unprecedented’ spread of misinformation has eroded trust in voting system.
A second Republican senator in the United States has called on Donald Trump to step down after some of the president’s supporters overran the Capitol building in Washington, DC this week in a deadly riot.
In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press news programme on Sunday, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey said Trump should resign for the good of the country.
“I think the best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible,” he said.
Toomey said president’s resignation is the “best path forward, the best way to get this person in the rear-view mirror for us”, but added that he did not believe Trump would step down before his term ends on January 20.
He also said the president’s role encouraging the riot was an “impeachable offence”.
Momentum has been building among Democratic lawmakers to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol rioters on January 6. Five people, including one Washington, DC police officer, died during the incident, and dozens of alleged participants have been charged.
Democrats said they plan to introduce an article of impeachment in the US House of Representatives on Monday about the riot.
The impeachment article accuses Trump of engaging “in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States”, according to a copy US Representative Ted Lieu posted on Twitter on Friday.
Lieu said Sunday that 195 legislators backed the impeachment article.
A day earlier, the California Democrat said he had requested that the New York State Bar Association investigate Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, “for his involvement in the violent insurrection on Capitol Hill”.
“Giulianli [sic] must be disbarred and held accountable,” Lieu tweeted.
We’re requesting @NYSBA investigate @POTUS attorney @RudyGiulianli for his involvement in the violent insurrection on Capitol Hill in which five people died, including a @uscapitol police officer. Giulianli must be disbarred and held accountable. Our letter with @RepJones ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bH1N9U0769
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) January 9, 2021
Also on Sunday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said the congressional chamber could vote this week to impeach Trump, but delay sending the legislation to the US Senate until after many of President-elect Joe Biden’s nominated cabinet secretaries are confirmed for their posts.
Clyburn said he is concerned that a Senate trial could distract from the process of confirming Biden’s nominees.
Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Capitol Hill, said House Democrats appear likely to impeach Trump while he is still in office and then wait until the first 100 days of the incoming Biden administration have gone by before taking the documents to the Senate.
“Then, 100 days later, the Senate can hold a trial,” said Culhane, who pointed out that after wins in election runoffs in Georgia last week, Democrats took control of the Senate.
“So, unlike the last impeachment trial, where Republicans for the first time in the history of this country chose not to call witnesses … the Democrats can make it a full spectacle. They can put him (Trump) on trial.”
An ABC News/Ipsos poll published Sunday found that 56 percent of 570 people surveyed said they believed Trump should be removed from office before his term ends – though only 13 percent of Republicans agreed.
Fifty-two percent of respondents also said Trump deserved a “great deal” of blame for the riot.
While impeachment has support primarily from Democrats, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who has regularly criticised Trump, told CBS News that he would “definitely consider” impeachment because the president “disregarded his oath of office”.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said on Friday that Trump should resign immediately and suggested she would consider leaving the party if it does not dissociate itself from him.
Meanwhile, Representative Adam Kinzinger, another Republican, called on Trump to step down on Sunday, and for Vice President Mike Pence to exercise the 25th Amendment if he refused.
The 25th Amendment addresses situations in which a president is unable to do the job but does not step down voluntarily. Under Section 4, Pence and the majority of Trump’s cabinet would need to declare Trump unable to perform his presidential duties and remove him.
But Pence has opposed the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, according to an adviser, while the Republican leadership has urged the Democrat-controlled House not to begin impeachment proceedings.
Some Republicans have suggested that impeaching Trump before he leaves office “is as unnecessary as it is inflammatory” and could undermine efforts to unify people in the US – an assertion that was slammed by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“When we talk about healing, the process of healing is separate and, in fact, requires accountability. And so if we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity, with no accountability, we are inviting it to happen again,” she told ABC News on Sunday.
These Republicans are not asking for unity. They are requesting capitulation to a deeply unwell and volatile man.
That will not heal or unify anything.
Accountability, rule of law, and removal of clear & present dangers are what will help stabilize the present situation. https://t.co/pEShIlEgL5
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 10, 2021
If Trump were to be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, he might also be prevented from running again for the presidency in 2024 or ever holding public office again. He would be the only president twice impeached.
The odds that Trump will actually be removed before January 20, when Biden is sworn in, remain low, however.
Trump has said he does not plan to attend Biden’s inauguration – a decision that the US president-elect welcomed last week as “a good thing“. A senior Trump administration official said on Saturday that Pence will be in attendance.