Top Republican says Trump committed ‘impeachable offences’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats’ momentum for a fresh drive to quickly impeach outgoing United States (US) President Donald Trump has gained support, and a top Republican said the President’s role in the deadly riot at the Capitol by a violent mob of Trump supporters was worthy of rebuke.

Senator Pat Toomey said on Saturday he believed Trump had committed “impeachable offences”. But he did not explicitly say whether he would vote to remove the president from office at the conclusion of a Senate trial if the House sent over articles of impeachment.

“I don’t know what they are going to send over and one of the things that I’m concerned about, frankly, is whether the House would completely politicise something,” Toomey said on Saturday on Fox News Channel, speaking of the Democratic-controlled House.

“I do think the president committed impeachable offences, but I don’t know what is going to land on the Senate floor, if anything,” Toomey said.

Late Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues reiterating that Trump must be held accountable — but stopped short of committing to an impeachment vote. Still, she told her caucus, “I urge you to be prepared to return to Washington this week.”

United States (US) President Donald Trump. PHOTO: AP

“It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable,” Pelosi wrote.

“There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the president.”

Pelosi said House Democrats “will be proceeding with meetings with Members and Constitutional experts and others”.

The new Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record — for the second time and days before his term ends — with the indelible mark of impeachment gained more supporters on Saturday. Representative David Cicilline, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles — or charges — accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said his group had grown to include 185 co-sponsors.

Lawmakers plan to formally introduce the proposal on Monday in the House, where articles of impeachment must originate. If Democrats decide to move forward, a vote could be possible by Wednesday — exactly one week before Democrat Joe Biden becomes President at noon on January 20.

The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors who would ultimately vote on whether to acquit or convict Trump. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president.

Earlier Saturday, Pelosi told her San Francisco constituents during an online video conference that it is “a decision that we have to make”.

If the House decided to impeach, the soonest the Senate could begin an impeachment trial under the current calendar would be January 20, Inauguration Day.