- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The House convened Wednesday for what will be the speediest impeachment of a president in history, with a vote planned by mid-afternoon charging the president with inciting insurrection in last week’s attack on Congress.

The first action was to take up rules governing debate over impeachment. The actual impeachment debate won’t begin in earnest until later in the morning.

Democrats say they are certain of succeeding, which will make President Trump the first ever to have been impeached twice. The only drama in the day is how many Republicans join with Democrats to deliver a second Scarlet Letter to Mr. Trump.

Democrats have held no hearings and offered Mr. Trump no opportunity to defend himself, saying the facts are clear to them.

They have moved with staggering speed, revealing the resolution to impeach the president on Monday and holding the vote two days later. Yet the desire to oust him dates back to his first day in office in 2017.

Leading the impeachment effort is Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat and a constitutional law expert.

On Tuesday, he led the push to pass a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to trigger the 25th Amendment to sideline Mr. Trump for the actions last week, citing his speech to supporters, many of whom then proceeded to assault the Capitol.

“I think it was a crime against the republic,” Mr. Raskin said.

The resolution passed, but Mr. Pence has said he won’t follow through, saying Mr. Trump should be allowed to depart on schedule next week, turning the reins over to President-elect Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Trump on Tuesday called the effort to oust him early a danger to the fragile political order.

“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time,” he said.

The certainty of Wednesday’s house action is matched by uncertainty in the Senate, where it would take a two-thirds vote to convict and remove the president.

All Democrats and some Republicans are expected to back conviction, but whether there are enough GOP lawmakers to succeed is not clear.

The Senate’s timing is also highly debated. Democrats say the process should be rushed so that Mr. Trump can be ousted as quickly as possible. But the chamber’s top Republican has said the matter will likely have to wait until Democrats take control with Mr. Biden‘s inauguration.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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