Momentum for the impeachment of President Donald Trump—which seemed for a moment on Friday afternoon like it might have stalled—received two major end-of-week boosts.
First, NBC News reported that House Judiciary Committee members Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline, and Ted Lieu would be introducing articles of impeachment on Monday, seeking Trump’s removal from office and barring him from further federal elected office for having committed “incitement of insurrection” prior to Wednesday’s mob attack on the Capitol.
Those articles accuse Trump of having “made statements that encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”
The charge continues:
Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.
The impeachment charge goes on to cite Trump’s likely illegal phone call to Brad Raffensperger, in which he attempted to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to “find” votes to undo Georgia’s presidential election results. It goes on:
In all of this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government.
Shortly after the articles of impeachment news, the Anchorage Daily News reported that Sen. Lisa Murkowski wants Trump “out” of office immediately and is considering leaving the Republican Party to join the incoming Senate Democratic majority.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the paper. She continued:
I think he should leave. He said he’s not going to show up. He’s not going to appear at the inauguration. He hasn’t been focused on what is going on with COVID. He’s either been golfing or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president. He doesn’t want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing.
In becoming the second Senate Republican to express a possible willingness to impeach and remove Trump, Murkowski joined Sen. Ben Sasse in creating a potential political framework for a quick impeachment process. Both Sasse and Murkowski voted against hearing witnesses and against impeachment during last year’s impeachment trial over Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme. But their apparent willingness to go along with an impeachment and removal process potentially gives Democrats the votes they would need to manage that process and ensure that it is not merely shunted aside by Senate Republicans.
The White House reacted to the growing calls for Trump to become the first-ever president to be impeached twice by issuing the following statement—a plea for, um, unity:
As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one Nation. A politically motivated impeachment against a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.
Things had started to look up for Trump on the impeachment question earlier on Friday, with allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Ken Buck coming to his defense and even some Democrats appearing lukewarm. Oregon Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader reportedly expressed disapproval for impeachment, going so far as to compare it to a “lynching.”
Schrader, though, received significant pushback from his caucus for the racially charged comments. And in a letter to her caucus earlier in the day, Nancy Pelosi reiterated that Democrats were prepared to impeach the president if he did not step down.
Ultimately, the only remaining question may be if Pelosi can rustle up the votes come Monday.
Speaking of votes: Possibly worse for Republicans than Murkowski’s impeachment stance was another portion of her Daily News interview in which she said she was open to leaving the party. As Murkowski told the paper: “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.”
Thanks to Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock’s victories in Georgia this week, the incoming Senate will be a 50-50 tie with Vice President–elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the majority. If Murkowski were to switch parties, that would offer significant leeway to incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he seeks to push through President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda by increasing the Democrats’ razor-thin Senate majority.
Correction, Jan. 8, 2021: Due to a photo provider error, a photograph of Sen. Tammy Baldwin was originally misidentified as Lisa Murkowski. That photo has been swapped out.