Democrats are moving rapidly to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol on Wednesday, with media outlets reporting that formal proceedings could be launched as soon as Monday.
If Mr Trump does not “immediately resign”, the House will move forward with a motion for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Friday – with 12 days left to go until the end of Mr Trump’s term.
The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to vote to convict Mr Trump, a feat that would be logistically and politically difficult. The White House, and some Republicans, are also arguing that impeachment would further divide an already polarised America.
Impeachment has a high chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled House, with some Republicans reportedly open to joining the effort, making this the second time Mr Trump will be impeached.
He was impeached in December 2019 in the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate.
As with last time, the Senate is unlikely to vote to remove him from office, a move that would disqualify him from holding office again.
Logistically, there may not be enough time for the Senate to hold a trial. Politically, voting to convict him could hurt vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2022.
Nonetheless, more Republicans appear receptive to impeaching and convicting Mr Trump than before. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the party’s more moderate voices, became the first Republican senator to call for his resignation on Friday.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” she told the Anchorage Daily News in an interview on Friday.
Even after Vice-President Mike Pence told Mr Trump he did not have the constitutional authority to overturn states’ electoral votes, Mr Trump “still told his supporters to fight”, she said.
“How are they supposed to take that? It’s an order from the President. And so that’s what they did,” Ms Murkowsi said, adding that she might be questioning whether to remain a Republican.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse told CBS in a Friday interview that he would “definitely consider” potential articles of impeachment, but said the question was whether impeachment would be prudent for the future of the United States.
The impeachment effort faces pushback from other Republicans, including some who voted against an attempt by their colleagues to overturn Mr Joe Biden’s electoral victory in Congress last week, who say that impeachment would be too divisive.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who distanced himself from the President last week, wrote on Twitter that impeachment would “do more harm than good” and “further divide the country and erode the institution of the presidency itself”.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy similarly said in a statement: “Impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more.”
In a statement on Friday, the White House said: “As President Trump said yesterday, this is a time for healing and unity as one nation. A politically motivated impeachment against a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”
Mr Biden declined to take sides during an event in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday. He said: “What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide.”