“We actually have the votes,” Rep. David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who has taken the lead in rounding up support for a resolution of impeachment, told me. “There’s no doubt about that.”
Cicilline says approximately 220 House Democrats have now confirmed they will vote to impeach. That reflects 210 Democrats who had signed on to the impeachment resolution as of Sunday, plus a number of private commitments from people who don’t want to be co-sponsors “but will vote for it,” Cicilline told me.
It is still not fully clear how this will unfold. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest plan is for the House to vote on a separate resolution calling on Vice President Pence to initiate a 25th Amendment process to remove Trump.
If Pence does not respond within 24 hours, Pelosi says, “we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor.” With Pence unlikely to invoke the 25th Amendment, that appears to commit Democrats to impeachment if he does not.
The urgent need to act has only escalated with new revelations over the past few days. Trump has reportedly expressed private regret that he released a video on Thursday condemning the violent assault on the Capitol that he incited — confirming that the condemnation was forced and hollow.
Trump also reportedly did not check on Pence’s safety after the vice president was moved to a secure location in the Capitol, even as some pro-Trump insurrectionists were calling for Pence to be hanged.
All this becomes worse in light of harrowing new reporting in The Post demonstrating that the invading mob may have come a lot closer to attempting assassinations of members of Congress than we know.
The speech Trump gave inciting the assault on the Capitol is also looking a whole lot worse in retrospect. In it, Trump menacingly suggested that if Pence and members of Congress didn’t overturn the election during the count of electors, they’d face danger.
And Trump actively urged those massing outside the Capitol to “fight much harder” to “take back our country,” a direct call for action to disrupt Congress carrying out its constitutional duty to make the presidential election’s outcome official.
On top of all that, after the violence surged out of control, Trump released a video falsely claiming the election’s outcome was illegitimate, the same big lie that inspired the insurrectionist attack in the first place.
Trump wanted this attack to happen. As documented in this timeline compiled by Just Security, Trump and his allies had spent many weeks both demanding that his congressional allies overturn the election and urging his MAGA army to descend on the Capitol to help make that happen.
In short, Trump incited an assault on the seat of U.S. government and successfully fomented violent disruption of the constitutional order and the separation of powers, with the express aim of derailing the conclusion of a lawful presidential election. The executive branch literally incited a violent attack on the legislative branch.
Thus, the impeachment resolution, which has now been introduced, states that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors by “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” It links this to Trump’s broader pattern of trying to corrupt other officials into helping nullify the election.
Cicilline acknowledged that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, some Democrats were resisting impeachment, reasoning that there are only a handful of days left in Trump’s presidency and that another impeachment would prevent the country from moving on.
But the force and logic of the argument for impeachment are growing overwhelming.
“It’s essential that there be accountability and justice and truth before you can heal and move on,” Cicilline told me.
On that score, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) stirred angst among Democrats when he suggested that the House perhaps should not send impeachment to the Senate for at least 100 days to ensure that Joe Biden can get his “agenda off and running.” Given Clyburn’s closeness to Biden, some took this as a directive from the president-elect himself.
But Cicilline took issue with this idea, and suggested it doesn’t have support among House Democrats.
“The whole reason for moving forward is the fact that every single minute this person stays in the White House presents a clear and present danger to our democracy,” Cicilline told me. “Most House Democrats believe he should be removed as quickly as possible.”
It’s hard to know what the Senate will do if and when the House impeaches. But as Cicilline pointed out, what makes this time different is that the horrors of the assault on the Capitol were vividly broadcast on national television to the country and the world.
“This is an attack unlike we’ve ever seen on the very foundations of our democracy," Cicilline told me. “The American people saw this playing out in real time, and the visuals were so powerful that I think there’s growing pressure on the Republicans to do something.”