New U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., called on her colleagues to impeach President Donald Trump — who now has about a week-and-a-half left in office — after she said he incited protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was certified President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college win.
She is also calling for an investigation into how the Capitol was breached while Congress was in session. At least five people — including a Capitol police officer — died in connection with the incident. Bourdeaux was one of more than 100 members of Congress who signed a letter to the Government Accountability Office seeking answers about the breach.
"In the aftermath of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, we are forced to reconcile with difficult truths about failures of leadership and preparation," the letter states. "The failures of security are far more easily corrected than the failure to lead and the abuse of the public trust.
"Now we must seek the facts and follow them to their clear conclusion, regardless of how difficult that end may be. Your comprehensive and independent investigation into these matters is essential to ensuring that the events of yesterday will never again be allowed to occur in America."
As protesters — at least one of whom was carrying a Confederate flag — entered the Capitol, they made their way toward the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. That forced both chambers to go into recess as lawmakers retreated to safety, and at least one protester was able to make his way to the well of the Senate floor.
Protesters also made their way into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office with a photo surfacing of one protester sitting at her desk.
"I condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms — and we need to be clear that the outgoing president and his enablers have routinely fanned the flames that sparked today's riots," Bourdeaux said in a statement on Wednesday. "Not since its burning in 1814 has so much damage been done to this building, a building that symbolizes to the world the strength and greatness of our democracy.
"In light of the personal responsibility Trump bears for today's events and his flagrant efforts to undermine the election in Georgia, I recommend the House move forward with impeachment proceedings immediately. Our words matter. Actions have consequences. It has never been more urgent for my colleagues to uphold the pillars of our democracy and put an end to the conspiracy theories that fueled this insurrection attempt. I call on them to do the right thing."
The incidents at the Capitol on Wednesday came days after the Washington Post published details of a call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where the president could be heard trying to pressure Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to reverse Biden's victory in the state. The Post released the audio of the call last weekend as well.
Bourdeaux was not the only member of the House of Representatives calling for an impeachment of Trump, who will automatically cease to be president at noon on Jan. 20. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, R-N.Y., issued a similar call on her Twitter account Wednesday night, saying simply "Impeach."
Although it initially looked as though congressional leaders preferred Vice-President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump's cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit to serve, and therefore remove him from office, the moods shifted later in the week.
By Friday, there was talk of fast tracking an impeachment, with a vote in the full House possibly happening in the coming week. Whether it goes anywhere beyond the House depends on whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lets a trial take place in the final few days of Trump's presidency.
It takes support in both chambers of Congress to impeach a president. The U.S. Senate has never impeached a president although three presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives.
The impeachment process that was initiated against Trump in September 2019 took just under four months to go from the launching of an impeachment inquiry — the first formal step in the process — to a trial in the Senate, where Trump was acquitted.