Shaken Washington mulls Trump’s fate and more: The Note

Trump will almost certainly be impeached again by the House early this week.

January 11, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It might be that the very divisions President Donald Trump has stoked save him from being removed from office early.

It may also be that forces beyond his control now contribute to his ultimate and final undoing.

In the flurry of recriminations from Wednesday's assault on the Capitol, the question has shifted from whether Trump would leave office to when and exactly how it all goes down. The president will almost certainly be impeached again by the House early this week, as official Washington realizes anew how bad last week was, and how bad things might get over the next nine days and beyond.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures at the end of his speech during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures at the end of his speech during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
Jim Bourg/Reuters

At stake are final judgments for history on Trump, including the possibility of disqualification from running for office again. The decisions ahead for lawmakers matter greatly for Trump and the future of the GOP, and also for internal Democratic politics and the agenda President-elect Joe Biden hopes to enact.

The strongest argument Republicans are now offering against impeachment doesn't try to defend Trump's actions or even argue that he's fit to stay in office through Jan. 20.

Instead, it's an argument that the cause of national unity is best-served by waiting Trump out – and hoping that no further political violence erupts in Washington, state capitals and even lawmakers' homes.

Trump has barely cared about his legacy in any traditional sense, and this week's White House attempts to remind people of his accomplishments aren't likely to change things.

Last week left indelible marks on his permanent record. Actions in the coming days could not only influence how he's remembered, but also how the country comes through a turbulent and troublesome period.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

It's hard to imagine Republican lawmakers are not thinking about their own legacies, too.

It's one thing for history books to write about a president who perpetuated a dangerous lie for weeks, and then, in the final days of his term, egged on a violent mob to delay the transfer of power. It's another thing completely for history books to also write about sitting lawmakers who, perhaps, did little in response.

"If we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity, with no accountability, we are inviting it to happen again," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday.

PHOTO: In this image from video, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
In this image from video, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
House Television via AP

"If a foreign head of state, if another head of state, came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that that should not be prosecuted?" she went on.

In reality, if that were the case, Americans know it would have likely started a war.

While unsure about the merits of impeachment himself, Republican counterpart Rep. Adam Kinzinger agreed that leaders in Washington should respond in some way.

"It was an executive branch attack on the legislative branch, one of the worst days in American history," he said on the show.

Will the party that ran on "law and order" look hold a president from its party accountable now?

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

While it's still unclear when an impeachment trial would come before the U.S. Senate, if there is a round two, it's likely the Democrats will want their newest members-elect -- Georgia's Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock -- sworn in before it happens. The pressure is already on to certify the runoff election results quickly, as the Peach State is currently one senator down following former Sen. David Perdue's term expiring at noon on Jan. 3. Late last week, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN he intended to certify the statewide results before Inauguration Day, saying, "We will get that done as soon as we can."

Raffensperger must certify the election by Jan. 22 -- two days after Biden's inauguration -- and Gov. Brian Kemp must issue certificates of election to Ossoff and Warnock within 24 hours of the secretary certifying. The secretary, however, is unable to do his part of the process until all of Georgia's 159 counties certify their respective election results. So far, only 40 have done so, but the county-level certification deadline isn't until Friday.

PHOTO: Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are seen in a combination of file photographs as they campaign on election day in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election, in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 5, 2021.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are seen in a combination of file photographs as they campaign on election day in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election, in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 5, 2021. Pictures taken January 5, 2021.
Mike Segar/Reuters

Because every county was tasked with conducting a hand count audit of all votes cast in the presidential election, Raffensperger didn't certify the general election -- the first time -- until the Nov. 20 deadline. While the counties aren't required to do another audit, Bartow County, where the Republican candidates captured 75% of the vote, is starting a voluntary audit on Tuesday.

Election workers will recount approximately 43,000 ballots by hand, not because the county's election division thinks there was an issue with the machine count, but in hopes of promoting "public confidence in the accuracy of this and future elections." While it is an undertaking, the county expects to finish by Wednesday, but unexpected issues could disrupt that timeline -- as they could with any county working towards certification.

ONE MORE THING

A majority of the country believes President Donald Trump should be removed before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20 and two-thirds hold him accountable for the violent insurrection on Capitol Hill, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. In the new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' Knowledge Panel, 56% of Americans think the sitting commander-in-chief should be removed from office before the official transfer of power in less than two weeks, while 43% say he should not. Among those who say Trump should not be removed immediately, nearly half (45%) nevertheless say his actions this week were wrong.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers and ABC News Legal analyst Kate Shaw, who examines the push from House Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump following the riot at the Capitol. Will Sommer from The Daily Beast explains why Twitter moved to permanently suspend Trump from the social network over the weekend. And ABC News Chief Investigative reporter Josh Margolin gives us an update on the nationwide sweep to arrest the rioters. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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