Majority of Americans want Trump out before Biden takes over
A majority of Americans believes Donald Trump should be removed from power before Joe Biden is sworn in to replace him, according to a poll released on Sunday. In the survey by ABC News and Ipsos, 56% of respondents said Trump should be removed before inauguration day, 20 January. A higher number, 67%, held Trump responsible for the violence at the US Capitol this week which left five people dead.
At the Ellipse near the White House on Wednesday, the president told supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn an election defeat he claims without evidence was caused by voter fraud.
Shortly after that a mob broke into the Capitol, smashing, stealing and confronting law enforcement.
A Capitol police officer died, reportedly after being struck with a fire extinguisher. One Trump supporter was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Multiple arrests have been made, including of men who brought firearms and explosives to Washington. Rioters were reportedly seen with handcuffs, indicating plans to kidnap lawmakers. Outside, protesters brandished a gallows and noose.
House Democrats are preparing to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday, accusing Trump of having “gravely endangered the security of the United States” and its institutions”.
It will be Trump’s second impeachment. He survived the first, over approaches to Ukraine for dirt on political rivals, last year, when he was acquitted by a Republican-held Senate.
No president has been removed from office via impeachment. Nor has any president been impeached twice.
Though Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that a second trial for Trump may occur after 20 January, inauguration day, the president is reported to be preparing his legal defense.
Attempts to invoke the 25th amendment to the US constitution, which provides for the removal of a president deemed incapable and his replacement by the vice-president, seem sure not to succeed.
Some Republicans have called for Trump to resign in favour of Vice-President Mike Pence, thereby echoing Richard Nixon’s decision to hand power to Gerald Ford in 1974. The two men have reportedly not spoken since the Capitol riot. Such a step also seems unlikely.
Two-thirds of the Senate must vote for a president to be impeached and removed. Though Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said Trump should go, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have indicated support for impeachment, such a majority seems unlikely.
If Trump does not pardon himself – a move which would imply guilt and may not work anyway – or gain a pardon from a successor, he will be vulnerable to federal prosecution after leaving office. State investigations are not subject to any pardon.
In the ABC-Ipsos poll, 94% of respondents who said they were Democrats but only 13% of Republicans supported Trump’s removal. A majority of political independents, 58%, also said he should go.
Asked if they trusted Biden to protect US democracy, 94% of Democrats said they did. But in a sign of the partisan division which four years of Trump have only deepened, only 14% of Republicans agreed.
Speaking to the Guardian on Saturday, Trump’s niece, the psychologist and author Mary Trump, pointed to the political price Republicans may pay for inaction.
“If they don’t vote to convict him,” she said, “they will own this disaster for ever. It will burn them down.
“In less than two weeks, [Trump] won’t have the Oval Office to protect him from lawsuits, bankruptcies and criminal indictments. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but we need to understand he’s capable of doing anything. And the clock is ticking.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi this week sought assurances from the head of the US military that Trump would not have access to the nuclear codes.
“This is not a time to deliberate,” Mary Trump said. “It’s time to act quickly.”
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