How deep the rift is between Donald Trump and Mike Pence and what consequences this could have is one of the most exciting questions currently being discussed in Washington.
The current Vice President was probably the most loyal companion of the US President for four years, he always stood out for his elongated hymns of praise to Trump. Now all of a sudden he has enormous power.
If he wanted to, Pence could mobilize other important members of the government to try what many have expected of him after the attack on the Capitol: he should, according to the Democrats in the House of Representatives in a resolution submitted on Monday, take action against Trump.
He should use the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to declare Trump incapacitated and remove him – before anything worse than last Wednesday happens. Then Pence would become President himself, at least until Joe Biden moved into the White House on January 20th.
The top Democrat in Congress, the “spokeswoman” Nancy Pelosi, wrote in a letter to her group colleagues on Sunday evening that pence would be set a deadline of 24 hours. The attempt by the Democratic group leader Steny Hoyer to pass the resolution unanimously failed on Monday due to opposition from Republican MP Alex Mooney.
Charge: Incitement to riot
The House of Representatives will meet again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. (local time). It is expected that it will then deal with the resolution again and decide on it. Since the Democrats have a majority in the chamber, the resolution should then be passed.
On Monday morning (local time), the resolution of the House of Representatives was also submitted, with which a parliamentary impeachment proceedings against Trump should be initiated. The only charge: “incitement to riot”. Trump has “seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions,” says the text on this possible procedure, on which the MPs will vote this week.
The Republican is accused of inciting his supporters to rally to storm the Capitol by claiming the election victory should be stolen from him and calling on them to march on Congress. Six people were killed in the unrest or as a result, including two police officers.
Not a word from pence
The Americans have not heard from Pence himself since Wednesday. The vice president had opposed Trump’s request to prevent the confirmation of Biden’s election victory. Therefore, according to all that is known so far, he was in great danger in the attack on the congress building. In the mob shouts had risen that the “traitor” Pence would be hung from a tree in front of the Capitol if one could get hold of him.
The Vice President had been taken to a safe place at the time. A gallows was set up by strangers within sight of the Capitol. In the days that followed, the Vice President was threatened massively on social networks. The Secret Service, which protects the president and his deputy, has now started an investigation into the death threats.
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Before the joint session of Congress, which Pence chaired the Senate, Trump said at his rally that he would be very disappointed if the latter did not comply with his request. Pence refused, stating that he had no power to hold back the confirmation of the November 3rd election.
From loyal to “Public enemy number one in Trump’s world”
During and after the riots that followed, Trump did not inquire about Pence, according to the US media, and neither should have spoken to each other since then.
“Vice President Pence has gone from being one of Donald Trump’s most loyal followers to the number one public enemy in Trump’s world,” said Republican MP Adam Kinzinger at the weekend.
But Pelosi also said on the broadcaster CBS that she and the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, tried to speak to Pence on the phone about the 25th amendment to the constitution. But the Vice President could not be reached. “We were held on the line for 20 minutes,” described Pelosi on the program “60 Minutes”. It was always said that Pence could be reached “in a minute”. “Well, he never got on the phone.”
So which strategy the Vice President is actually pursuing can only be speculated about at this point in time. Is the 61-year-old permanently shaken – also by the realization of whom he was blindly at the side for four years? Or does he just want to avoid getting even more targeted by the obviously determined Trump supporters, without whom the Republican Party would hardly have a majority in the future?
The Senate decides on impeachment
Time and again, Pence is attributed with ambitions to consider running for the White House in four years’ time. The evangelical Christian can rely on the support of many conservatives.
It is now unclear how great the political damage caused by the events of the past week for the ex-governor of Indiana and longtime congressman. Unlike Trump, Pence has announced that he will attend Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday in a week.
It was initially said that the Vice President had no intention of applying the 25th amendment to the constitution, CNN suddenly reported from his environment over the weekend that Pence wanted to reserve this option in the event that Trump acted even more unpredictably.
It is more likely, however, that he will let the deadline set by Pelosi pass. Then, for the first time in American history, a President will be tried again by the House of Representatives. A simple majority in the Congress Chamber is sufficient for this impeachment – since the Democrats continue to have the majority here and some Republicans have already indicated their support, this step is considered secure.
According to the constitution, the final decision on the impeachment of the president lies with the Senate. In this chamber, the Republicans will lose their previous majority soon after the two Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff had just won by-elections in Georgia.
However, a two-thirds majority is required for removal from office, i.e. 67 votes out of a total of 100 senators. The Democrats would have to get 17 Republicans on their side. That should be difficult. At the first impeachment, Trump was acquitted in early February 2020.