House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said Sunday that the House could take up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump early this week, but that they may delay sending them to the Senate until after President-elect Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
Any Senate trial could slow down Biden’s ability to pass Covid-19 relief legislation and have his Cabinet officials confirmed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., explained in a memo obtained by NBC News that the soonest the Senate could receive the articles of impeachment from the House would be on January 19, the eve of Biden’s inauguration, unless a unanimous consent agreement from all 100 senators is passed.
“Yes, I do have concerns,” Clyburn told CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked about whether impeachment could slow Biden’s agenda. “And so does Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”
He added: “Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”
House Democrats have moved quickly to begin the impeachment process against Trump after a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol, hoping to prevent the counting of electoral votes that marked Biden as the winner of November’s election. The mob stormed the Capitol moments after Trump spoke to followers at a nearby rally, pushing them to head to Congress after spreading misinformation about Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to stop the count and falsehoods about the November election itself.
Footage from the riot even showed members of the mob chanting “hang Mike Pence” at one point.
On Friday, Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that the House was prepared to impeach Trump if he did not resign. Some Republicans have even called for Trump’s resignation or removal from office via the 25th Amendment, though others have cautioned against a second impeachment.
A draft article of impeachment obtained by NBC News is titled “Incitement of Insurrection” and seeks to ban Trump from being able to run for office again.
Clyburn said the House could introduce articles as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
“The assault on the Capitol was a violent insurrection that was incited and encouraged by Donald Trump,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., another member of House Democratic leadership, told “Meet the Press,” on Sunday, adding that Trump is a “clear and present danger to the health and safety of the American people.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said House Democrats’ “main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as president of the United States.”
“We’re also talking about complete barring of the president — or rather of Donald Trump — from running for office ever again,” she added. “And in addition to that the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for.”
As legal experts explained to NBC News, a president could be impeached and tried in the Senate after leaving office. In order to convict the president, Democrats would need significant GOP support in order to reach the necessary two-thirds vote. Barring him from future office would then require a simple majority vote if he is first convicted.
No president has ever been removed from office via impeachment, nor has the House impeached any president more than once.