Politicians and lawyers on Wednesday called for President Donald Trump to be impeached again and charged with crimes, even as law enforcement tried to regain control of the Capitol from hundreds of Trump supporters who invaded and interrupted the counting of electoral votes for president.
The day started with Trump, who continues to make false claims that he won the November election, telling a rally of his supporters near the White House, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump for days had talked up the gathering, which also saw his lawyer Rudy Giuliani tell the crowd he was seeking “trial by combat” over the election.
Hours later, a pro-Trump mob forced Congress to lock down and suspend what is a constitutionally prescribed step in the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. Some were on the House and Senate floor, while others were at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
President-elect Joe Biden said the chaos at the Capitol “is not dissent, it’s disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now.”
Trump released a video statement on Twitter, in which he repeated falsely that the election was “fraudulent” but said people should “go home in peace.”
“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special,” the president said.
California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu responded by calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which calls for removing the president if he is incapacitated, tweeting that Trump “is detached from reality.”
Maryland Democratic Rep. Kweisi Mfume tweeted that “what we’re witnessing at the US Capitol is a dangerous coup attempt incited by Trump. This is a physical attack on our democracy & a threat to national security. These anarchists & their leader must be arrested & tried with sedition.”
Even before the Capitol was secured, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar announced she was drawing up articles of impeachment.
“We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath,” Omar tweeted.
Florida Democratic Rep. Val B. Demings, a former police chief, recalled Trump’s words weeks ago to members of a white nationalist group to “stand back and stand by.”
“We have a criminal president who has incited violence. He wanted this. Our country cannot heal until he and his spineless enablers are held criminally accountable for their actions,” she tweeted. “Justice demands it.”
Legal experts said such charges would be possible, but the likelihood was in question.
“Impeachment and criminal prosecution are not mutually exclusive,” former Justice Department watchdog Michael Bromwich tweeted. “More than enough evidence to prosecute Trump for treason, sedition, and incitement.”
Rachel Barkow, a law professor at New York University, said Wednesday’s events at the Capitol mean that Trump issuing a self-pardon is now a foregone conclusion and that “probably precludes criminal liability.”
“If we want accountability for this, he needs to be impeached and convicted,” Barkow tweeted.
Some lawmakers brought up that possibility, even though there are only two weeks left in Trump’s term in the White House.
“This is outrageous, and the president caused it. We should impeach and convict him tomorrow,” tweeted Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where articles of impeachment would start.
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton said Trump was directly responsible for the violence, adding that Pence and the Cabinet needed to strip his powers under the 25th Amendment.
“Or Congress must immediately impeach and remove the President for the safety of our nation,” Moulton tweeted.
The House impeached Trump in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Senate Republicans voted to acquit him the following February.
The National Association of Manufacturers took the highly unusual step of calling on Pence to consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
“This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and should be treated as such,” Jay Timmons, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.”