Pelosi declares House 'will proceed' to impeachment of Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House "will proceed" with bringing legislation to impeach President Donald Trump to the floor.
Ms Pelosi made the announcement in letter late on Sunday to colleagues.
With impeachment planning intensifying, two Republican senators now say President Trump should resign in the wake of deadly riots at the Capitol and support for the House drive to impeach him a second time is gaining momentum.
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey on Sunday joined Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski in calling for Mr Trump to "resign and go away as soon as possible" after a violent mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol on Wednesday.
Ms Murkowski, who has long voiced her exasperation with Mr Trump's conduct in office, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Mr Trump simply "needs to get out."
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Mr Toomey said even though he believes Mr Trump committed impeachable offences in encouraging loyalists in the Capitol siege, he did not think there was enough time for the impeachment process to play out.
Resignation, Mr Toomey said, was the "best path forward, the best way to get this person in the rear view mirror for us."
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The senator was not optimistic that Mr Trump would step down before his term ends on January 20.
House leaders, furious after the violent insurrection against them, appear determined to act despite the short timeline.
Late on Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to her colleagues reiterating that Mr Trump must be held accountable.
She told her caucus, now scattered across the country on a two-week recess, to "be prepared to return to Washington this week" but did not say outright that there would be a vote on impeachment.
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"It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable," Mrs Pelosi wrote.
"There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the President."
Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said "it may be Tuesday, Wednesday before the action is taken, but I think it will be taken this week."
Mr Clyburn, D-S.C., a close ally of President-elect Joe Biden, suggested that if the House does vote to impeach, Mrs Pelosi might hold the charges — known as articles of impeachment — until after Mr Biden's first 100 days in office.
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has said an impeachment trial could not begin before Inauguration Day, January 20.
"Let's give president-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running," Mr Clyburn said. "And maybe we will send the articles some time after that."
Mr Clyburn said lawmakers "will take the vote that we should take in the House" and that Mrs Pelosi "will make the determination as when is the best time" to send them to the Senate.
Another idea being considered is to have a separate vote that would prevent Mr Trump from ever holding office again.
That could potentially only need a simple majority vote of 51 senators, unlike impeachment, in which two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must support a conviction.
Mr Toomey indicated that he might support such a vote: "I think the president has disqualified himself from ever certainly serving in office again," he said. "I don't think he is electable in any way."
The Senate is set to be split evenly at 50-50, but under Democratic control once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the two Democrats who won in Georgia's Senate runoff last week are sworn in. Harris will be the Senate's tie-breaking vote.
While many have criticised Mr Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to "talk about ridiculous things like 'Let's impeach a president' who isn't even going to be in office in about nine days."
Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Mr Trump's actions "were clearly reckless," but "my personal view is that the president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again."
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sends over.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he will "vote the right way" if the matter is put in front of him.
But, he said, "I honestly don't think impeachment is the smart move because I think it victimises Donald Trump again."