President-elect Joe Biden late Wednesday called for the nation to “stand together” even as the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump.
Biden said the “violent attack” on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was “planned and coordinated” by “political extremists and domestic terrorists, who were incited to this violence by President Trump.”
“It was an armed insurrection against the United States of America. And those responsible must be held accountable,” he added.
“The members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable,” Biden said.
The Senate will hold an impeachment trial before voting on whether to convict or acquit Trump. That will take place after Trump leaves office this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated earlier Wednesday.
Democrats would need to sway 17 Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump. Even some Democrats believe the “votes aren’t there.” Five Republicans have signaled a willingness to join Democrats; 10 say they oppose the impeachment. McConnell, though, announced he may vote to convict, depending on what’s presented during the trial.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shows the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump after signing it in an engrossment ceremony, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 13, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Biden wants the Senate to not focus exclusively on the trial when it does start.
“I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” he said, adding that “it has never been more critical for us to stand together as a nation than right now.”
A spokesman also told Fox News that America “cannot afford gaps in national security leadership or more delays on the part of Senate Republicans” while urging the Senate to confirm Biden’s nominees before Inauguration Day. Several hearings for nominees were scheduled for Jan. 15 or Jan. 19.
Biden and Democratic leadership ignored pleas by Republicans to drop the impeachment effort. Many Republicans argued the rushed process—the fastest impeachment in history, taking several days compared to the two months, one week, and two days of the last impeachment—and the fact that the trial wouldn’t culminate until Trump left office, meant proceeding would undermine Biden’s calls for unity. Trump remains popular among Republicans and drew 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016.
“This impeachment would undermine your priority of unifying Americans, and would be a further distraction to our nation at a time when millions of our fellow citizens are hurting because of the pandemic and the economic fallout,” a group of Republicans wrote in a letter to Biden over the weekend.
Trump in a video after being impeached a second time—he was acquitted by the Senate last year—urged people “to be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed Wednesday that an impeachment trial would take place, marking the first time in history an impeached president would have to defend himself while not in office any longer.
“There will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” Schumer said.