Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois became the first Republican member of Congress to openly call for President Donald Trump’s removal using the 25th Amendment, saying it was necessary to “end this nightmare” following Wednesday’s deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill.
Vice President Mike Pence should begin initiating the removal process, Kinzinger said in a video statement Thursday, “to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people, and that we have a sane captain on the ship.”
“Sadly, yesterday it became evident that not only did the president abdicate his duty to protect the American people and the People’s House, he invoked and inflamed passions that only gave fuel to the insurrection that we saw,” Kinzinger said. “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. All are indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, but from reality itself.”
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“Here’s the truth: The president caused this. The president is unfit, and the president is unwell,” Kinzinger said, addressing conspiracy theorists who joined in the mob breaching the Capitol.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on Pence to begin 25th Amendment proceedings minutes later, saying in a statement that Trump “should not hold office one day longer.”
“If the Vice President and Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” he said.
A number of White House officials have been privately discussing invoking the 25th Amendment, The Washington Post and other outlets reported Thursday morning. Doing so would be an extraordinary step, allowing Pence to perform the president’s duties until he is deemed fit, or until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office in just under two weeks.
Some congressional Democrats and elected Republicans have already called for Trump’s removal from office following the riot, which left four people dead. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced Wednesday that she would be drawing up articles of impeachment. Schumer’s statement was echoed by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) shortly afterward.
Trump “has a bunker mentality now,” one unnamed White House official told The Washington Post.
The president spent Wednesday evening holed up in the White House while Congress reconvened the joint session to certify Biden’s election win, which had been abruptly halted earlier in the day so lawmakers and staffers could be rushed to safety.
Trump was behaving like “a total monster,” an official told the Post. The outlet noted that the president had to be persuaded to issue a statement to calm his supporters.
Yet instead of telling them to immediately leave the Capitol, Trump posted a video to Twitter in which he merely told the rioters to act peacefully, telling them, “We love you.” The social media platform has now banned the president from posting out of fear that he will incite more violence.
Several White House officials have resigned due to the incident. Among them are Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s press secretary, and Mick Mulvaney, the former White House chief of staff who still had an administration post as special envoy to Northern Ireland.
Others are reportedly considering making an exit with just 13 days left in Trump’s term.
“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney told CNBC.
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