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As impeachment drive advances, Trump finds new GOP critics

As the last full week of Trump's term gets underway, his second impeachment increasingly appears inevitable. The tricky part is what would come next.
Image: House Members Meet To Consider Increasing Covid-19 Stimulus Payments After President Trump Signs Relief Bill
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) heads back to her office after she opened up the House floor on Dec. 28, 2020.Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

As the last full week of Donald Trump's term gets underway, his second impeachment increasingly appears inevitable. NBC News reported overnight on the current plan crafted by House Democratic leaders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that lawmakers will move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump if other efforts to remove him from office fail. In a letter to Democrats, she said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will try to introduce a resolution Monday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare that Trump is incapable of executing the duties of his office.

Pelosi's letter effectively gave Pence a 24-hour window to respond, suggesting a floor vote on the resolution tomorrow. From there, the House would move forward with impeachment, though the Speaker's letter didn't offer a specific timeline.

As things stand, an article (or articles) of impeachment would very likely pass in the Democratic-led chamber, but at that point, the process is far from clear. Trump's term ends in nine days, and by the time of his second impeachment, that would probably be down to seven. Democratic leaders are mindful of the downsides of having the Senate hold an impeachment trial just as Joe Biden's presidency is getting underway, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) raised the prospect of delaying the process of sending the article (or articles) until after the new president's first 100 days in office.

And while an impeachment trial for a president who's left office is complicated, it is an option.

As for how the issue would be received in the upper chamber, the New York Times reported over the weekend, "While it seemed unlikely that 17 Senate Republicans would join Democrats for the two-thirds necessary for conviction, the anger at Mr. Trump was so palpable that [GOP] leaders said privately it was not out of the question."

On Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Senate Republican to call for Trump's ouster, and a day later, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told Fox News, "I do think the president committed impeachable offenses." In the same interview, the Pennsylvania Republican added that Trump's behavior "does disqualify him from serving."

Toomey added yesterday, "I think the best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible."

Though Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) didn't use the same phrasing, both have been aggressively critical of Trump in recent days.

Away from Capitol Hill, former Gov. Chris Christie (R) -- a longtime Trump ally -- was asked yesterday whether impeachment is warranted. "I think if inciting to insurrection isn't [an impeachable offense], then I don't really know what it is," he replied, adding, "To me, there's not a whole lot of question here."

Watch this space.

Postscript: There was some chatter over the weekend about Senate Rule XI and the possibility of senators appointing a small committee to hear impeachment evidence, so as to not disrupt the institution's business as Biden's term gets underway. I'll confess to not being especially familiar with the procedural details, and I can't say with confidence whether it would be an option in circumstances like these, but it's worth keeping an eye on.