WASHINGTON (AP) — Poised to impeach, the House sped ahead Monday with plans to oust President Donald Trump from office, warning he is a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act even more quickly in an effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.
Trump faces a single charge — "incitement of insurrection" — after the deadly Capitol riot in an impeachment resolution the House will begin debating Wednesday.
At the same time, the FBI warned Monday of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. In an act of foreshadowing, the Washington Monument was closed to the public amid the threats of disruption. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf abruptly resigned.
It all added up to final moments for Trump's presidency as Democrats and a growing number of Republicans declare he is unfit for office and could do more damage after inciting a mob that violently ransacked the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday.
"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government," reads the four-page impeachment bill.
"He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office," it reads.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is summoning lawmakers back to Washington for votes, and Democrats aren't the only ones who say Trump needs to go.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., encouraged House GOP colleagues late Monday to "vote your conscience," according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private call. She has spoken critically of Trump's actions, but has not said publicly how she will vote.
Pending impeachment, Democrats called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke their constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before Inauguration Day.
Their Democrats' House resolution was blocked by Republicans. However, the full House is to hold a roll call vote on it today, and it is expected to pass. After that, Pelosi said, Pence will have 24 hours to respond. Next would be the impeachment proceedings.
Pence has given no indication he is ready to proceed on a course involving the 25th Amendment.
He and Trump met late Monday for the first time since the Capitol attack, a senior administration official said.
No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.
As security tightened, Biden said Monday he was "not afraid" of taking the oath of office outside — as is traditionally done at the Capitol's west steps, one of the areas where people stormed the building.
As for the rioters, Biden said, "It is critically important that there'll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable."
Biden said he's had conversations with senators ahead of a possible impeachment trial, which some have worried would cloud the opening days of his administration.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was exploring ways to immediately convene the Senate for the trial as soon as the House acts, though Republican leader Mitch McConnell would need to agree. The president-elect suggested splitting the Senate's time, perhaps "go a half day on dealing with impeachment, a half day on getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate, as well as moving on the package" for more COVID relief.
As Congress briefly resumed Monday, an uneasiness swept government. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering during the siege. And new security officials were quickly installed after the Capitol police chief and others were ousted in the fallout from the attack on the dome of democracy.
Some GOP lawmakers, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, faced public blowback for their efforts on the day of the riot trying to overturn Biden's election.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., offered the 25th Amendment resolution during Monday's brief session. It was blocked by Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., as other GOP lawmakers stood by him.
Pelosi said the Republicans were enabling Trump's "unhinged, unstable and deranged acts of sedition to continue. Their complicity endangers America, erodes our Democracy, and it must end."
The impeachment bill from Reps. David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; Ted Lieu, of California; Jamie Raskin, of Maryland; and Jerrold Nadler, of New York, draws from Trump's own false statements about his election defeat to Biden.
Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.