Pelosi, Schumer Ask Cabinet to Eject Trump, Threaten Impeachment
(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer demanded that President Donald Trump’s cabinet immediately remove him from office and threatened a new drive to impeach him if they don’t act.
The two top Democrats in Congress on Thursday accused Trump of inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol and called him a continuing threat to democracy in his waning days in the White House.
Trump is “a very dangerous person who should not continue in office,” Pelosi said in Washington. “This is urgent, an emergency of the highest magnitude.”
In a separate news conference in New York, Schumer echoed Pelosi’s dire warnings. “The best thing to do is to get rid of him,” he said. “I don’t trust him one bit.”
The extraordinary broadside against Trump came as the president is under siege from some Republicans as well as Democrats and from inside his own administration as top officials announce resignations.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is so far the highest ranking official to depart. She said in her resignation announcement that the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Investors largely shrugged off the violence in Washington and the turmoil in the government, as nearly 70% of the companies in the S&P 500 rose in trading on Thursday on the prospect for more stimulus and the likelihood that calm will prevail once Joe Biden takes over the presidency on Jan. 20.
Pelosi said she wants to hear as soon as today from Vice President Mike Pence about whether he would act on calls to use the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in the final 13 days of his term. Schumer said he and Pelosi attempted to reach Pence by phone Thursday morning but were left waiting for 25 minutes.
Although numerous congressional Democrats have been calling for Trump to be impeached, it was unclear whether there is time to do so before he leaves office on Jan. 20 and whether there is significantly more Republican support than earlier this year after the Senate voted to acquit him on impeachment charges brought by the Democratic-led House.
Although Schumer said the House and Senate should be brought back for impeachment proceedings, Pelosi said there were “no immediate plans” to call members back.
”If he wants to be unique and be doubly impeached -- that’s up to him and his cabinet if he wants to stay in office,” Pelosi said.
Schumer, who is set to become majority leader, said in a statement earlier Thursday that Pence should take over the Oval Office until Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
A number of rank-and-file Democrats have urged Trump’s impeachment, and a Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, also backed ousting the president via the 25th Amendment.
“Not only has the president abdicated 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 here,” Kinzinger said in a tweeted video statement. “The president is unfit and the president is unwell and the president must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntarily.”
One senior Republican senator told White House Counsel Pat Cipollone that the cabinet should consider removing Trump by invoking the 25th Amendment if he doesn’t stop inciting violence, a person familiar with the matter said.
The 25th Amendment provides for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet determines that he or she is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office. If the president contests the finding, and the vice president and cabinet persist, Congress can order the president’s removal by a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
The outcry stemmed from the violence Wednesday, when a mob of Trump supporters broke through police lines and invaded the Capitol, disrupting a joint session of Congress convened to formally count the Electoral College votes from the November presidential election. A White House spokesman later promised an orderly transition of power, but Trump has refused to acknowledge his election loss to Biden.
Impeachment and removal from office would require a simple majority in the House but two-thirds of the Senate.
Only one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, voted to convict Trump after his impeachment in 2019. Convicting Trump would require many more Republicans to vote in favor.
Romney on Wednesday said there is probably too little time before Trump is out of office on Jan. 20 to begin impeachment proceedings again.
Asked whether the 25th Amendment should be used, he told reporters, “I think we have to hold our breath for the next 20 days.”
Many of Trump’s GOP allies also have distanced themselves from the president after Wednesday’s violence.
House Judiciary Committee Democrats led by Representatives David Cicilline, Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin said Thursday they are circulating articles of impeachment of Trump charging him with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” and calling for him to be immediately removed from office and barred from holding any U.S. office again.
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” they wrote. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperiled a coordinate branch of government.”
Pelosi emphasized the urgent need to strip Trump of all authority, given the uncertainty of how he might behave in the next two weeks before Biden is sworn in.
”While it is only 13 days left,” Pelosi said, “any day can be a horror show for America.”
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