Pelosi, Schumer, Republican Congressman join calls to oust Trump from office

By Arul Louis
New York, Jan 8 (IANS) Reeling from the mob attack on Congress, the nation’s two highest-ranking Democrats and a Republican Congressman have demanded that Vice President Mike Pence act to remove President Donald Trump from office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday said that he could pose a danger to the country in the 13 days left for him to be in office and Pence and the cabinet should invoke the constitution to declare him unfit to function as president and oust him.

A Republican member of the House of Representatives, Adam Kinzinger also called for Trump’s removal from office.

Pelosi threatened to start impeachment proceedings against Trump if Pence and the cabinet did not remove him under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.

“If the Vice President and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” Pelosi said.

Many leaders from both parties have blamed Trump for his supporters creating nightmarish scenes by storming the Capitol on Wednesday.

Schumer said that the attack would not have happened if he was not the President.

Kinzinger said Trump “invoked and inflamed passions that gave fuel to the insurrection.”

Trump is becoming increasingly isolated even within his Republican Party after the attack on the Capitol, the Washington building housing Congress, after he addressed a rally of supporters and asked them to go to the Congress, which was to meet to declare Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned from the cabinet saying that the attack on Congress has “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

She is the wife Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, who has broken with Trump and said that his continuing to question Biden’s election could send democracy into a “death spiral”.

He and Pence refused to heed Trump’s requests to undo Biden’s election when the Congress took the final step on Wednesday to ratify the electoral college’s votes making Biden the President.

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, Stephanie Grisham, former Trump’ spokesperson who was First Lady Melania Trump’s chief staff, president’s Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Mathews, and White House Social Secretary Anna Cristina Niceta, have also resigned.

As pressures on Trump increased, he said early Thursday that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20, when Biden and Harris will take office under the Constitution.

While Trump had been criticised for not unequivocally condemning the riot, his Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnnany said on Thursday, “Let me be clear — the violence we saw yesterday at our nation’s capital was appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way. We condemn it — the president and this administration — in the strongest possible terms.”

Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can write to the speaker and to the President pro tem of the Senate that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and automatically remove him from office making the Vice President the successor.

The amendment does not specify the grounds for declaring the President unfit to continue, but a President’s mental health could be a ground given that concern over the president’s health was the driving force for enacting it in 1965.

Action by Pence and a majority of the cabinet would have immediate effect, while impeachment would need to go through the House and then to the Senate, which will come under Democratic control, before he is removed.

Schumer said that every one of the 13 days left for Trump to be president “is a threat to democracy.”

“The quickest and most effective way to remove this President from office is to invoke the 25th Amendment,” he said at a news conference in New York.

With Democrats seizing control of the Senate with the twin victories in Georgia State, Schumer will become the majority leader in the Senate, replacing McConnell.

Pelosi said, “We’ll review what our options are in terms of the 25th Amendment.”

Trump was impeached in 2019 by the House, but the Republican-controlled Senate did not convict him.

The last time the US faced a similar crisis was in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned while was facing impeachment and erosion of political support.

The move to impeach him was for his involvement in the Watergate scandal in which the Democratic National Committee office was broken into by operatives linked to him.

His Vice President Spiro Agnew had resigned earlier after being accused of petty corruption.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

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