Trump remains defiant, Pence refuses to act. Impeachment is inevitable and must start now

The calls for Donald Trump's immediate removal from office are growing louder and more insistent with every hour that passes. As of Friday morning, 159 House Democrats and 22 Senate Democrats have issued statements supporting impeachment. A Republican, Sen. Ben Sasse, is also on board, saying that he will "definitely consider whatever articles [the House] might move because I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office. … What he did was wicked."

Assistance House Speaker Katherine Clark told CNN that the House will move forward with an impeachment vote by the middle of next week if Vice President Pence and the Cabinet have not acted to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment. They need to move faster. They need to move now, because the 25th Amendment route is not happening and Trump remains dangerous.

Pence spent the whole of Thursday avoiding phone calls from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. The resignations of two Cabinet secretaries—Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos—complicate that process as well. CNBC reports that Steven Mnuchin and Mike Pompeo have had discussions with staff in their own agencies, identifying obstacles—the time it would take with just two weeks to inauguration, whether the "acting" secretaries—three of them—would be able to vote, and "concerns that forcing Trump from office could further stoke tensions among his base and make him a hero of the far right, doing more bad in the long term than good in the short term." Meaning they don't want to become targets of Trump's violent mob. "The general plan now is to let the clock run out," a former senior administration official told CNBC. "There will be a reckoning for this president, but it doesn't need to happen in the next 13 days."

A Trump tweet—he's out of Twitter jail for the moment—belies that sentiment. He remains defiant, threatening that the "great American Patriots" who voted for him and presumably those who attempted to overthrow the government at his instigation "will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!" He remains a danger and he and his mob pose a very real threat to the inauguration on Jan. 20, not to mention the entire Congress, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris for the foreseeable future.

House Democrats are meeting Friday at noon and leadership seems ready to move forward. "I can confirm that we have had discussions about it and I would hope that the speaker would move forward if the vice president refuses to do what he is required to do under the Constitution," Rep. James Clyburn told CNN. "Everyone knows that this president is deranged." The previous impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, is ready to go. "Donald Trump lit the fuse which exploded at the Capitol," he tweeted. "Every day that he remains in office, he is a danger to the Republic. He should leave office immediately, through resignation, the 25th Amendment or impeachment."

At this point it seems to be a matter of when, not if, on impeachment. That puts pressure on the Senate Majority Leader (for the next few weeks) Mitch McConnell to act. The Senate is recessed until Jan. 19, but can and should reconvene for an impeachment hearing. If McConnell has any hopes at all of reconstituting a majority in 2022, he'll feel that pressure.