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White House: Impeachment will only further divide country

Draft impeachment document accuses Trump of ‘incitement of insurrection’

Resolution circulated by Dems says US president betrayed trust by actions this week, ‘gravely endangered’ national security; Murkowski first GOP senator to call on Trump to resign

File: US President Donald Trump arrives in the early morning hours, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after returning from a rally in Dalton, Georgia (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
File: US President Donald Trump arrives in the early morning hours, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after returning from a rally in Dalton, Georgia (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A draft resolution of the new impeachment effort against US President Donald Trump that has been circled by Democratic lawmakers accuses him of “incitement of insurrection” through his actions on the day of the breach of the US Capitol by a violent mob this week.

The draft, obtained by CNN, NBC News and other American media outlets, says Trump “engaged in High Crimes and Misdemeanors by willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

It states that “Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”

By doing so, the document charges, Trump “gravely endangered” the security of the US, “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government.

“He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

The White House, in its first comments on the matter, said Friday: “As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one nation. A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”

Pro-Trump protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned earlier that Democrats will launch impeachment proceedings unless Trump leaves willingly, or Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th Amendment, where the cabinet removes the president.

“If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Pelosi wrote.

In other astonishing comments, Pelosi also revealed she had spoken Friday with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,” Pelosi wrote.

Meanwhile Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican member of the Senate to call for Trump’s resignation.

Murkowski said in a telephone interview Friday: “I want him out. He has caused enough damage… He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing.”

She also questioned whether she wanted to remain a Republican. “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

Democrats in the House of Representatives, who already impeached Trump in a traumatic, partisan vote in 2019, said the unprecedented second impeachment of the president could be ready next week.

“We can act very quickly when we want to,” Representative Katherine Clark told CNN.

Whether Republican leaders of the Senate would then agree to hold a lightning-fast impeachment trial before the January 20 transition is another matter.

Trump would be the only president to be impeached twice. The House impeached him in late 2019, but the Republican-led Senate acquitted him. Removal from office could also prevent Trump from running for president in 2024, or ever holding the presidency again.

Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump, meanwhile, announced that he will skip the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going,” he tweeted.

The statement — while not a surprise from the most divisive president in decades — scuppered any idea that Trump might seek to spend his remaining 12 days in the White House helping his Democratic successor to calm tensions.

Not since 1869 has an outgoing US president missed the inauguration of the incoming leader, a ceremony symbolizing the peaceful transfer of power.

But two days after Trump incited followers to storm Congress, his presidency is in freefall, with allies walking away and calls for his removal accelerating.

Trump, whose incitement of crowds assaulting Congress capped relentless efforts to overturn Biden’s November 3 election win, finally conceded defeat on Thursday and appealed for calm.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said in a short video.

However, the evidently reluctant concession, in which Trump failed to congratulate Biden or directly admit defeat, was too little, too late to calm outrage over his role in the Capitol invasion.

Five people died in the mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a Capitol Police officer who was pronounced dead from his injuries on Thursday. Flags over the Capitol were lowered to half-mast on Friday.

Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

Senator Ben Sasse, one Republican who says he will “definitely consider” impeachment, recommended that Trump at minimum step back and let his vice president run the show in the dying days.

“I think the less the president does over the next 12 days the better,” he told NPR radio.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit the government, telling Trump in a letter Thursday that such “behavior was unconscionable for our country.” Earlier, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced she was departing over the “entirely avoidable” violence. A string of lower level officials have also left.

According to reports, the only reason the trickle hasn’t turned into a flood is the decision by senior figures to try and maintain stability during the transition to Biden.

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix, Arizona, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Trump, however, appears to have lost the grip he once exercised on both the Republican party and his own staff as he rampaged through four years of one of the most turbulent presidencies in US history.

Speaking to CNN, retired Marine Corps general John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for 18 months, said the cabinet should consider the 25th Amendment but believed the president had already been put into a box.

“He can give all the orders he wants but no one is going to break the law,” Kelly said.

Biden, who won seven million votes more than Trump, as well as a decisive majority in the vital state-by-state Electoral College, will be sworn in on the Capitol Steps under huge security.

And Biden will immediately face extraordinary challenges, starting with his core campaign promise that he can “heal” the nation.

The Democrat has been wary of endorsing impeachment.

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as US President-elect Joe Biden (R) delivers remarks at The Queen theater on January 08, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

“If we were six months out, we should be doing everything to get him out of office. Impeaching him again, trying to evoke the 25th Amendment, whatever it took,” Biden said Friday. “But I am focused now on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th and to get our agenda moving as quickly as we can.”

Impeachment of the president could present the incoming Democrat with an even more polarized landscape, further complicating the task of reuniting the country.

A protester yells inside the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

At the same time, the crisis has sparked such revulsion in Congress on both sides of the aisle that Biden may come into office with an unexpectedly bipartisan tailwind.

On Thursday, he accused Trump of mounting an “all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy” and called the assault on Congress “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.”

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