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House To Vote On 2 Measures Designed To Remove Trump From Office

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

More than 200 House members are now supporting an impeachment resolution that charges Trump with inciting an insurrection. The urgency follows last week's deadly riot at the Capitol. Later today, the House will vote on a separate measure that seeks to remove the president through the 25th Amendment. With us for more on this push and how the administration is reacting, our congressional correspondent Susan Davis and White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Hi to both of you.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Good morning.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MOSLEY: Sue, let's start with you. The House is preparing to vote on two measures with the same end goal in mind of removing President Trump from office. Let's start with this first one, a resolution involving the 25th Amendment. How would this work?

DAVIS: It's a resolution by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, who's also a constitutional lawyer. It's a nonbinding resolution, but it expresses the sense of the House that Vice President Pence and a majority of the Cabinet should invoke a provision in the 25th Amendment that would essentially allow Pence to assume the office through Inauguration Day. It is expected to pass the House, but again, it's just symbolic. Democrats say if Pence does not respond to this within 24 hours, that they will move forward with an impeachment process. And they're preparing to start that on Wednesday.

MOSLEY: OK. And, Tam, we haven't heard much, if anything at all, from the vice president. Is there any indication that - on whether he's even entertaining this?

KEITH: So let's remember that Pence was presiding over the Electoral College vote tally at the time of the insurrection and had to take shelter. And at that very time, President Trump criticized him via tweet. Pence has been conspicuously silent since then. But last night, a senior administration official who declined to speak on the record said Pence and Trump met in the Oval Office yesterday, their first meeting since then. Quote, "they pledged to continue to work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term," which is to say, indirectly, that Pence probably isn't going to try to remove Trump from office.

MOSLEY: The other order of business today for the House will be impeachment this week. What exactly is the charge Democrats are laying out?

DAVIS: It's just one article of impeachment. It's only four pages long. I would encourage anybody to go read it. It's online. The article is for, quote, "incitement of insurrection," and they're expected to take it up and pass it on Wednesday. Democrats already have the votes. They say they have the votes that they need, so there's really no suspense to the outcome here.

The big question we're all looking for is - will any House Republicans vote for it? No Republican broke with the party to vote for impeachment the first time around. There's been far more criticism of the president for his role in inciting these extremists to go to the Capitol on January 6. But I would say, overall, there is still tremendous loyalty to the president on Capitol Hill, and I think Democrats are still anticipating a mostly party-line vote here.

MOSLEY: Well, how does this work with a possible Senate trial if the president is leaving office in just eight days?

DAVIS: That's a great question, and we don't really know the answer to that. We've never been here before, right? Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he's going to try to bring back the Senate early - they're out of session until January 19 - to try to start a trial. But he would need Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to go along with that, and that doesn't seem likely.

The Biden camp has said they're looking at - to see whether the Senate could split their time. Could they also be moving his Cabinet nominees and have a Senate trial? This is why a lot of Democrats, like Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, this week said they wanted to wait to impeach in the House and then hold off on triggering a Senate trial. But I've talked to a lot of Democrats who just aren't comfortable with that message of saying sort of this is an urgent matter we must attend to and then wait and sit on it for months.

We still don't expect they have the votes to convict in the Senate. Remember - that requires two-thirds of senators. But we have seen more senators, more Republican senators like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, say Trump committed impeachable offenses, and both have called on him to resign.

MOSLEY: Tam, how is the president responding and, really, preparing?

KEITH: Over the weekend, a White House spokesman said that impeachment would further divide the country. But Trump hasn't tweeted about this because he can't. But he also hasn't been using the other levers of the presidency that he once loved. He also - he's been so far out of view that he hasn't been publicly demanding loyalty from congressional Republicans, as he has in the past.

And the White House is not saying - they didn't respond to a request for comment when I asked who would be representing the president in a second impeachment trial. But I do know through my reporting that a top lawyer who was by his side for that first impeachment trial and the Russia investigation, Jay Sekulow, will not be representing him in his second impeachment trial, should that happen.

Trump is going to the border today, which is the kind of thing that an outgoing president would do. He's going to tout construction of the border wall during his presidency. You know, presidents at the end, often, they go sort of celebrate their accomplishments. But, you know, it seems pretty hard for him at this point to burnish his legacy when everyone's last memory is going to be a violent insurrection that followed remarks telling people to go to the Capitol.

MOSLEY: Sue, there's something else I want to ask you. There's so much focus on the president, but many are also calling for repercussions for the Republicans that voted to object to the Electoral College counts. Will anything happen to those lawmakers?

DAVIS: Well, one of the biggest impacts we've seen so far is a lot of major American businesses - like AT&T, American Express and Marriott, just to name a couple - have come out and said that they're going to withhold political donations for anyone who voted in favor of overturning the Electoral College results last week. That could be a big problem, especially for Republicans like Senator Rick Scott of Florida - his job is to run the 2022 Senate campaign operation, which is basically a fundraising job - and for people like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He's the top Republican in the party, but his job is also to raise a lot of money for the party.

We've seen the most pushback against Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Obviously, a lot from Democrats, but really, a remarkable amount of pushback from their fellow Republicans as well. It's a little too early to say what the long-term impact would be, but these are two men who are seriously considering running for president in 2024, and this could severely hamper those efforts. In the House, we know that at least one freshman, Cori Bush of Michigan, has a resolution that is calling for an ethics investigation of any lawmaker who voted to overturn the electoral count, but it hasn't been approved by the House yet.

MOSLEY: And, Tam - I have about 30 seconds with you - the president has just eight days left in office. A lot can happen during that time, but it seems like there is not a lot happening right now, as the president winds down.

KEITH: Yeah, ever since the election, President Trump has really shrunk in his job, even more so since the insurrection. You know, he's been doing ceremonies to honor his allies. Yesterday, it was Congressman Jim Jordan, who got a Presidential Medal of Freedom. But he's been doing these behind closed doors. And now we know that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is turning down the honor.

MOSLEY: That's NPR's Tamara Keith and Susan Davis. Thanks to you both.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.