Lawmakers of both parties raised the prospect Thursday of ousting President Donald Trump from office, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if he wasn’t removed, the House may move forward with a second impeachment.
Though Trump has less than two weeks in office, lawmakers and even some in his administration began discussing the issue Wednesday afternoon as Trump first refused to forcefully condemn the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters, and then appeared to excuse it.
Senior Trump administration officials raised the possibility of invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment – the forceful removal of Trump from power by his own Cabinet.
Pelosi told a news conference she is waiting for a decision from Vice President Mike Pence and other Cabinet officials. She challenged several of them by name, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
“Do they stand by these actions?” Pelosi asked. “Are they ready to say that for the next 13 days this dangerous man can do further harm to our country?”
Most Democrats, and many Republicans, put the blame squarely on Trump after hundreds of protesters bearing Trump flags and clothing broke into the Capitol on Wednesday and caused destruction and mass evacuations. The president had urged the supporters to protest as Congress was counting the electoral votes that confirmed Biden’s win.
Pelosi said “a threshold was crossed of such magnitude” that Trump should not allowed to make any decisions.
There did to be public support for the move, for now, among members of Trump’s Cabinet, especially after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned in protest Thursday following the Capitol attack. But officials across the government went so far as to study up on the procedures for declaring Trump “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
According two people involved in the administration talks, staff-level discussions on the matter took place across multiple departments and even parts of the White House. No member of the Cabinet has publicly expressed support for the move — which would make Pence the acting president — though several were believed to be sympathetic to the notion, believing Trump is too volatile in his waning days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Under the 25th Amendment, Trump could dispute his Cabinet’s finding, but the Cabinet could quickly reaffirm its position, keeping Pence in power while the question fell to lawmakers.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also called Thursday for the the Cabinet to remove him.
In a statement, Schumer said the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.” He said Trump “should not hold office one day longer.”
Schumer said Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Trump from office. Otherwise, he said, it’s up to Congress.
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