House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are calling for the removal of President Donald Trump following Wednesday’s violent insurrection by extremists who were encouraged by Trump.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” Schumer said in a statement Thursday morning. “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
The Democrat from New York urged Vice President Mike Pence and the rest of Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, a law that allows the vice president to take over presidential duties if the president is no longer able to do her or his job due to sickness or disability. Once a president is removed under the 25th Amendment, the vice president and Cabinet members can decide if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the White House.
“The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment,” Schumer said. “If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
In her own statement Thursday afternoon, Pelosi also called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.
“In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people,” Pelosi said. “I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the Vice President and cabinet do not act, then Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus ― and the American people, by the way.”
It would be highly unusual for Trump’s own Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to get him out of office. But Wednesday’s events were also highly unusual.
On Wednesday, thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. after Trump gave a speech falsely claiming the election was stolen from him, and encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol.
Four people were killed in the ensuing violence, including a woman who was shot.
The president did very little to discourage the mob throughout Wednesday’s events. At one point, he posted a video to Twitter calling for peace but then reiterated that Democrats stole the election. Trump has since been banned from posting on his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages because his tweets incited violence.
The 25th Amendment has been invoked in the past, but never to remove a sitting president. George W. Bush invoked it twice for himself during his presidency, and Ronald Reagan invoked it once ― all to undergo medical procedures.
Two weeks before Trump leaves office, the president’s irrational and violent behavior may have finally pushed some of his allies to turn against him. CBS News reported on Wednesday night that some of Trump’s Cabinet members are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment following his encouragement of violence in the Capitol.
“The very fact that the highest levels of the U.S. government and Cabinet members are discussing this is quite newsworthy, quite notable,” CBS News’ Margaret Brennan said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called on Pence to invoke the 25th after the riot at the Capitol.
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) was the first Republican member of Congress to call for Trump’s removal using the 25th Amendment. Kinzinger urged Pence to begin the removal process in a Thursday video statement “to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people, and that we have a sane captain on the ship.”
“When pressed to move and denounce the violence he barely did so, while of course victimizing himself and seeming to give a wink and a nod to those doing it,” Kinzinger continued. “All are indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, but from reality itself.”
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) also called on Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment in a Thursday interview with Spectrum News. “If the Cabinet decided to do that, I would not oppose it,” he said. “I do not believe that an impeachment can happen in 13 days.”
Other Republicans to call for Trump’s removal include the governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, who called for Trump to resign or be removed from office via the 25th Amendment in a series of tweets Wednesday.
“President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election,” Scott tweeted. “There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us — step by step — to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history.”
On the left, every single Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the vice president Wednesday night urging him to meet with the Cabinet and invoke the amendment. “For the sake of our democracy, we emphatically urge you to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin the process of removing President Trump from power,” the letter reads. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is unwilling to protect our Democracy and carry out the duties of the office.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) voiced support for removing Trump as well.
“The most immediate way to ensure the President is prevented from causing further harm in coming days is to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office,” Murray said in a statement early Thursday morning.
Other members of Congress calling for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment include Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Senators urging for Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), among others.