The move to impeach President Donald Trump for his incendiary role in the Jan. 6 deadly siege of the Capitol — an attempt to stop Congress from confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory — comes only a few days before Trump's term mercifully comes to an end.
The timing is awkward, but the calendar is no reason for the House to hold back. It must find that Trump committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" in exhorting frenzied followers on their way to Capitol Hill to "fight like hell" to overturn the election results.
House Democrats were readying a resolution Tuesday calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office. If Pence doesn't act within 24 hours of its passage, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the House will move to impeach the president.
We are on record as doubting that the 25th Amendment, which is designed to deal with an incapacitated president, can be deployed against Trump. In any case, Pence doesn't seem inclined to activate the amendment, which in any event would require cooperation from members of the Cabinet, where several positions are filled by acting appointees.
Impeachment is another matter.
But Congress is free to define "high crimes and misdemeanors" as it sees fit. Impeachment is a political process. Only three presidents have been impeached; Trump would be the first with the ignominy of being twice impeached.
Moreover, Trump wasn't an ordinary citizen when he launched into his rant. He was a president who, as the proposed article of impeachment points out, "threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government."
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES