By Ron Kampeas
(JTA) — Three of the four Democrats leading the charge to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time are Jewish: David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who is the lead sponsor, and Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Jerry Nadler of New York, who are among the three lead co-sponsors.
The fourth lead co-sponsor of the impeachment articles charging Trump with inciting last week’s deadly insurrection is Ted Lieu of California. All four lawmakers are on the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which traditionally takes a lead role in impeachment proceedings, and which Nadler chairs. Raskin is a constitutional scholar.
Of the 25 Jewish Democrats in the new Congress, just one has yet to announce where she stands on impeachment, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. She is one of just 12 Democrats not to sign onto the impeachment call.
Slotkin, a moderate with a national security background, played a critical role in persuading other moderate Democrats to back Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, when she reversed her opposition. This time around, other moderate Democrats who like Slotkin were wary of impeaching Trump until relatively late in the process in 2019, have already signed on. But she has not, and has yet to explain why she is not a sponsor of the impeachment articles.
Slotkin said last week that she backs invoking the 25th Amendment, designed to transfer power when the president is unable to lead. That would require Vice President Mike Pence to launch the removal of Trump from office; Pence has given no signal that he intends to do so.
That had originally been the preference of many Democrats. Raskin authored a resolution urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, and House Democrats said that if Republicans withheld objections they would not move to impeach. But Republicans did object, and the Democrats introduced a single article of impeachment on Monday morning.
The legislation cites Trump’s role in fomenting the violent siege that Trump supporters laid against the Capitol building last week. “Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States,” it says.
Trump has for months peddled the falsehood that he prevailed over president-elect Joe Biden in November’s election. He urged protesters to converge in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday when Congress convened to formally affirm Biden’s win and, in a speech, urged his supporters to march on the Capitol. They heeded his call, and hundreds of them stormed and looted the building and sought out lawmakers who went into hiding. At least five people died.
“The attempted coup at the United States Capitol last Wednesday, which took place as lawmakers inside counted the electoral votes that would formalize Joe Biden’s overwhelming election by the American people, marks one of the lowest points in our country’s 245-year experiment in democracy,” Cicilline said Monday in a New York Times op-ed, explaining his decision to launch the proceedings.
If Pence does not invoke the 25th Amendment by Wednesday, the House Democrats plan to move forward with the impeachment legislation. All but 12 Democratic lawmakers have signed on, and five of those would not be expected to either because they hold leadership positions or have been nominated for roles in Biden’s administration.
The two Jewish Republicans in the House, Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee, issued statements deploring the violence, but also voted to overturn Biden’s election.
Main Photo: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) wears a protective mask while speaking to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Jan. 11, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)