Today’s big question

Will Trump be allowed to finish his term in the White House?

Democrats ramp up efforts to remove president ‘with urgency’

Nancy Pelosi has said that the House of Representatives is prepared to begin the process of removing Donald Trump from office this week if Vice-President Mike Pence refuses a demand to take action following the deadly storming of the Capitol.

Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, delivered the ultimatum in a letter sent to her colleagues in Congress last night. 

“In protecting our constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

What can Democrats do?

On Friday, Democrats moved to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump for a second time, after Pelosi “threatened to bring him up on formal charges” if he did not resign over his role in the siege on the Capitol, The New York Times reports. 

Her party would rather avoid a second impeachment, and the threat is widely seen as “part of an all-out effort by furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans” to force Trump to leave the Oval Office under his own steam, the paper adds.

However, if Trump chooses to stick it out, Pelosi said the House “will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor”, The Guardian reports. 

She did not lay out a timeline for the process, but senior Democrats told the paper “the House could begin proceedings as soon as midweek, with a Senate trial delayed - possibly for months - so as not distract from Joe Biden’s agenda”.

If Trump were impeached after Biden’s inauguration, it would bar him from holding federal office in the future, skewering any plans he may hold to run for president again in 2024. He will also become the first president in history to be impeached twice.

The house is today moving forward with a non-binding resolution calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, a third option that could also remove Trump from office before the end of his term.

What is the 25th Amendment?

The Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted in 1967, less than four years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to establish procedures in case the president or vice president are unable to perform their duties.

It states that the vice-president becomes president if the president dies; explains how the president should replace a vice-president or cede power temporarily to the vice-president; and gives the vice-president and the cabinet the power to remove a president who is unable to do the job.

Has it been used before?

The 25th Amendment has been invoked a few times in the past when presidents have had to be sedated for medical procedures.

In July 1985, for example, then-vice president George H.W. Bush was acting president for about eight hours when President Ronald Reagan underwent a procedure to have a precancerous lesion removed from his colon.

Dick Cheney was also twice acting president during the administration of President George W. Bush: first in June 2002, for about two-and-a-half hours, when Bush underwent a colonoscopy, and then again for about two hours in July 2007, when Bush had five non-cancerous colon polyps removed.

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