On Tuesday, President Donald Trump left the White House for the first time since last week’s attack on the Capitol. While boarding Marine One, Trump denounced the Democrats’ last-minute effort to impeach, remove, and bar him from office.
The president condemned the impeachment effort as a “continuation of the greatest witch hunt” in history, The Washington Examiner reported.
“I think it’s causing tremendous anger,” he told reporters as he boarded the helicopter. Trump is flying south for a trip to the border in Texas to tout his work on the ball with Mexico.
On Monday, Democrats revealed their article of impeachment, accusing Trump of “incitement of insurrection.” The Democrats do seem intent on impeaching the president, despite the fact that his term in office ends on January 20, eight days from now.
On Sunday, Pelosi suggested that many House Democrats want to impeach Trump specifically to prevent him from holding office in the future.
While some of Trump’s statements during the Capitol riots were beyond the pale, the president has since condemned the rioters and promised to support a peaceful transition of power.
If the House of Representatives votes to impeach Trump, the Senate would almost certainly not remove Trump before January 20. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not reconvene the Senate until January 19, effectively dooming impeachment while Trump is in office.
Impeaching Trump for allegedly inciting the Capitol riots would set a terrible precedent. The president never told his supporters to break into the Capitol or engage in violence. Urging people to “fight like hell” in a political speech is hardly insurrectionary. This impeachment would set a precedent that Congress could impeach a president if the majority party interprets aggressive rhetoric as incitement to violence.
It would also raise questions about Democrats’ aggressive rhetoric. Pelosi herself called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” Incoming Vice President Kamala Harris said the destructive and deadly Black Lives Matter riots of this past summer “should not” stop.
It seems likely Democrats will pass this article of impeachment and impeach Trump a second time in the twilight hours of his presidency. However, if they want to permanently disqualify Trump from public office in the future, they will have to convince two-thirds of the Senate to convict the president.
If two-thirds of the Senate convicts the president, the Senate will hold a separate vote to bar Trump from further office — that only requires a majority vote.
In either case, Trump is correct: impeaching him for supposedly inciting an insurrection will only further inflame Trump’s supporters and alienate Republicans who are hesitant to defend Trump’s statements but wary of Democratic overreach. After the Capitol riots, Big Tech has gone after conservative speakers and platforms like Parler. Republicans rightly condemned the violence in the Capitol, but it seems the Left is ready to use that violence as an excuse for a dangerous power grab.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.