President-elect Joe Biden is resisting calls from fellow Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump in the wake of last week’s tragic riot at the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has served up an ultimatum to the president: resign immediately or be impeached a second time. Two Republican senators have called for Trump to step down.
Biden, while condemning Trump as “unfit” for office, wants to stay out of the situation.
“If we were six months out,” he told reporters on Saturday, “we should be doing everything to get him out of office. Impeaching him again, trying to evoke the 25th Amendment, whatever it took.”
“But,” he added, “I am focused now on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th and to get our agenda moving as quickly as we can.”
Biden also held back on endorsing impeachment by saying that was up to Congress.
“That’s a decision for the Congress to make – I’m focused on my job,” Biden said in additional comments.
“I think it’s important we get on with the business of getting him out of office — the quickest way that that will happen is us being sworn in on the 20th. “What action happens before or after that is a judgment for the Congress to make.”
A small group of House Republicans had encouraged Biden to publicly urge Pelosi to stand down.
Led by Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, the seven lawmakers reminded Biden of his own calls for healing and argued that an impeachment drive would undermine that.
The Constitution, they wrote, does not “envision impeaching a president without an adequate investigation and congressional hearings. A presidential impeachment should not occur in the heat of the moment, but rather after great deliberation.”
The group added, “A second impeachment, only days before President Trump will leave office, will be as unnecessary as it is inflammatory.”
Jonathan Turley, a liberal constitutional law scholar at George Washington University who has at times agreed with Trump, also denounced the Democrats’ “mad rush” to impeach.
Writing in The Hill, Turley noted, “With seeking his removal for incitement, Democrats would gut not only the impeachment standard but also free speech, all in a mad rush to remove Trump just days before his term ends.”
Turley called Trump’s comments before the riot “reckless and wrong” and criticized the GOP-led congressional challenges to the Electoral College votes. “But,” he wrote, “his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.”
“Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots,” Turley added.
Trump instead told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard,” Turley noted.
“There was no call for lawless action by Trump,” he added. “Moreover, violence was not imminent, as the vast majority of the tens of thousands of protesters were not violent before the march, and most did not riot inside the Capitol. Like many violent protests in the last four years, criminal conduct was carried out by a smaller group of instigators. Capitol Police knew of the march but declined an offer from the National Guard since they did not view violence as likely.”
Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll shows what such polls have always shown with Trump in office: that the country is split down the middle on his actions.
According to the Marist poll, 49 percent reject the idea of getting rid of Trump with 10 days left in his term, while 48 percent support it.