Trump second impeachment gathering pace

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Jan 2021

US Democrats were readying for an unprecedented second impeachment of Donald Trump as the defiant president showed no signs of stepping down after the deadly violence at the Capitol in Washington.

Democrats said impeachment proceedings could begin as early as today - an extraordinary acceleration of a process that historically has taken weeks. But it might not be completed before Joe Biden is sworn in as president on January 20.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats will launch the process unless Trump resigns or Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th amendment, where the cabinet removes the president.

"He's deranged, unhinged and dangerous - he must go," Pelosi said in referring to Trump.

The move to impeach came amid continued fury over the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday by Trump supporters, which left five people dead, including a policeman.

Authorities have announced new arrests and charges over the attack, including a tattoo-chested man in a horned headdress whose image was beamed around the world.

That man, Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, and two others - one a newly elected West Virginia official - were charged in federal court over the violence.

The impeachment text, signed by at least 180 members of Congress by yesterday, read: "President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system."

Trump, who had urged his supporters to go to Washington for a rally opposing his November election loss, has remained defiant, even after finally posting a video in which he belatedly promised an "orderly transition" of power to Biden.

But he also said it is only the "beginning of our fight."

That sort of language prompted Twitter to suspend Trump permanently on Friday and fueled Democrats' moves against him.

Trump accused the platform on which he had more than 88 million followers of having "coordinated with the Democrats and the radical left."

Democrats and at least one Republican lawmaker - senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - have urged Trump to resign and thus avoid impeachment proceedings in his final full week in power, but he remained defiant in talks with his aides.

Trump has said he never intended for his supporters to attack the Capitol building - where Congress had convened to certify Biden's victory - but meant to encourage peaceful protest.

But in the chaos one Trump supporter was shot and killed, while a policeman was gravely wounded and died the following day.

Just as when Trump was impeached in a 2019 partisan vote - but not convicted - the process requires majority backing in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and then, for conviction, two-thirds approval in the Senate.

Reaching two-thirds could be difficult in the divided upper chamber, though a number of Republicans have expressed disgust with the events of Wednesday.

While Trump said he will not be at the inauguration - a final tweet - Vice President Mike Pence will attend.

"We'd be honored to have him there and to move forward in the transition," Biden said.

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