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With Democratic leadership in the U.S. House calling for the removal of President Donald Trump 12 days before his term expires, a growing number of Texas Democrats are expressing support for the idea of impeaching him for a second time.
"After yesterday’s failed coup attempt, it is clear that our fragile democracy cannot afford more pain and destruction," said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, on Thursday. "Congress must impeach him again, remove him from office immediately, and bar him from holding office ever again.”
Escobar, who was in the chamber when it was under attack, was not an outlier within the Democratic caucus. Leadership signaled early Friday that more formal steps could be imminent.
“Donald Trump needs to be removed from office and we are going to proceed with every tool that we have to make sure that that happens to protect our democracy,” U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, a senior member of House leadership told CNN in an interview.
Similar to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks on Thursday, Clark said the House "will move forward with impeachment,” if Vice President Mike Pence does not invoke the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump. She said the House could vote on impeachment by the middle of next week.
The announcement came after a terrifying episode on Wednesday in which Trump supporting rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol. In that episode, the floors of the U.S. House and Senate and Pelosi's office were commandeered by Trump supporters while members of Congress sheltered in place, wore gas masks, barricaded doors and prepared for physical combat against invaders. Officials say five people died in the riot. One of the people was U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who died Thursday from injuries sustained while serving the line of duty.
In the past two days, a number of Texas U.S. House Democrats including U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Lloyd Doggett of Austin, Escobar, Sylvia R. Garcia of Houston, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, Al Green of Houston, Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher of Houston, and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, called for Trump's impeachment after Wednesday's mayhem.
Fletcher was also in the chamber on Wednesday.
"Not since the War of 1812 has our Capitol been invaded in this way," she said on Thursday. "This insurrection was incited, encouraged, and praised by the President of the United States — an assault on the United States that would once have been unthinkable.“
"It is now clear that the President of the United States represents a grave threat to our Constitution and to our country," she added. "He has willfully incited violence against the Government of the United States. It is for these reasons that I support his removal from office as soon as possible, whether through the process set forth in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution or through the constitutional process of impeachment.'
No president has been removed from office through impeachment. It takes a majority vote in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, to charge a public official with impeachment, which is likely to happen given the anger at Trump for deadly events at the Capitol driven by his supporters.
But on the Senate side, a two-thirds majority is required to convict and remove a public official from office. The Senate will soon be narrowly controlled by the Democrats and any movement to remove Trump from office with just days left in his presidency would need Republican support.
That did not occur in the first impeachment early last year. Only one Republican, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump then.
In that proceeding, the U.S. House charged the president with threatening to withhold support from Ukraine unless that country's president investigated Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden. But Democrats fell well short of removing Trump in the Republican-controlled Senate and he was easily acquitted.