‘Inciting Insurrection’ Impeachment Articles Against Trump Introduced
Here we go again.
The House of Representatives is starting the process for impeaching President Trump a historic second time.
CNN (“House Democrats introduce impeachment resolution, charging Trump with ‘incitement of insurrection’“):
House Democrats formally introduced their resolution to impeach President Donald Trump on Monday, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s riots at the US Capitol.
The impeachment resolution that the House is poised to vote on later this week is the Democrats’ first step toward making Trump the first president in history to be impeached twice.
The single impeachment article, which was introduced when the House gaveled into a brief pro-forma session Monday. points to Trump’s repeated false claims that he won the election and his speech to the crowd on January 6 before pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol. It also cited Trump’s call with the Georgia Republican secretary of state where the President urged him to “find” enough votes for Trump to win the state.”
In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” the resolution says. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”The resolution also cited the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, noting that it “prohibits any person who has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against’ the United States” from holding office.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats on Sunday evening that the House would proceed with bringing an impeachment resolution to the floor this week unless Vice President Mike Pence moves to invoke the 25th Amendment with a majority of the Cabinet to remove Trump from power.
Pelosi’s letter was the first time she explicitly said that the House would take up impeachment on the floor this week, though it was clear that House Democrats have rapidly coalesced around an impeachment resolution in the days following the riots at the Capitol where five people died, including a US Capitol Police officer.
As noted previously, my strong sense is that Trump’s speech ahead of the rioting does not meet the high threshold set by the Supreme Court for “incitement.” Legal scholars, including Eugene Volokh, have reinforced this view.
Similarly, while I have studied the concept in much less depth than I have the 1st Amendment, I’m skeptical that Trump is guilty of “insurrection” as defined in either the 14th Amendment or federal statute. There’s a much better argument for “seditious conspiracy,” but I’m frankly skeptical of the broadness of that language and the potential for abuse that creates.
Regardless, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. While private citizen Trump has incredibly broad rights to speak foolishness, President Trump has a sworn duty to protect the Constitution, safeguard our elections, and ensure a smooth transition of power. He has done the opposite. He certainly merits further ignominy, including removal from office, for his condut.