American politics is at a volatile stage. Nine days before United States President Donald Trump leaves office, moves are afoot to impeach him. It would take a simple majority in the House that Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls to press a charge - centred around Mr Trump inciting an insurrection and making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice. But, as was the case during Mr Trump's impeachment last year, the Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to vote in sufficient numbers to provide a two-thirds majority to convict and remove him from office, even if an expedited trial was held. Several members of Mr Trump's Cabinet and some White House officials have resigned, condemning his role in egging on supporters to ransack the Capitol last week. But the desire to not anger Mr Trump's loyal base of millions of voters prevents a stronger repudiation by his Republican Party.
Mr Trump is, therefore, well placed to stay in the saddle. Mr Mike Pence appears reluctant to support a move to invoke a constitutional amendment designed to put the Vice-President in charge. Incoming president Joe Biden has indicated that he would rather concentrate on taking charge on Jan 20 than in supporting moves to oust Mr Trump. Adding to the uncertainty of the hour, security has been tightened in anticipation of more violence in the run-up to Mr Biden's inauguration, and Mr Trump has been muzzled. Twitter and Facebook suspended his accounts - another unprecedented move - citing his inflammatory rhetoric. A few hours before the Jan 6 breaching of the Capitol, Mr Trump falsely claimed during a rally that seven states had submitted "illegitimate" electoral vote tallies to Congress. A day later, however, Mr Trump formally committed to ensuring a seamless transition but stopped short of recanting his claims that the Nov 3 election had fraudulently deprived him of victory. The riots last week took five lives and convey well the risks when populism and the politics of resentment, rather than informed civic engagement, come to dominate national discourse.