Impeachment Calls Gain Momentum After Pro-Trump Mob Storms Congress
Trump has become “unmoored” from reality, warns lone Republican congressman joining Democrats in calls to remove the president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from office a day after a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on the U.S. Capitol that temporarily interrupted Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. Democratic lawmakers began drawing up fresh articles of impeachment against Trump on Thursday, setting the stage for another dramatic political showdown and potential constitutional crisis in the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Speaking at her weekly press availability on Capitol Hill, Pelosi, whose office was ransacked by violent demonstrators Wednesday afternoon, called Trump’s actions “sedition.” She said that if Pence failed to act, she would take up fresh articles of impeachment against the president, with less than two weeks to go before Inauguration Day and just over a year after the House first impeached Trump.
“If the vice president and cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” Pelosi said. An impeachment resolution led by Reps. David Cicilline, Ted Lieu, and progressives headlined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already circulating on Capitol Hill. A successful impeachment requires two-thirds consent of the Senate—but, if passed, would bar Trump from running for election again.
Pelosi joins more than 100 Democratic members of Congress who have called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is set to take over the upper chamber’s top job after Democrats took control of the Senate with two runoff victories in Georgia this week.
As of Thursday afternoon, only one Republican has announced support for removing Trump: Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
“All indications are that the president has become unmoored not just from his duty, nor even his oath, but from reality itself,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “It’s for this reason that I call for the vice president and members of the cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people and that we have a sane captain of the ship.”
Some of Trump’s staunchest Republican allies on Capitol Hill have sharply rebuked the president for doubling down on baseless claims that the election was stolen and riling up the crowds that went on to storm the Capitol complex. “It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence,” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement.
Biden labeled the rioters who breached the Capitol complex as “domestic terrorists” and accused Trump of “trying to use a mob to silence the voices of nearly 160 million Americans” who voted in the presidential elections.
Several senior Trump White House aides and one of his cabinet officials resigned in protest, less than two weeks before they were scheduled to leave their jobs as the new administration came in. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tendered her resignation on Thursday afternoon, saying in the letter that the attack on the Capitol “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”
Jack Detsch is Foreign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter. Twitter: @JackDetsch