WASHINGTON ― Top Democrats in the House and Senate have joined a growing call for President Donald Trump to be removed from office immediately, accusing the president of fomenting Wednesday’s violence at the U.S. Capitol.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith are calling on Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment ― an unprecedented step. If not, they say Congress must pursue an extraordinary second impeachment.
“President Trump incited & encouraged this riot. He & his enablers are responsible for the despicable attack at the Capitol,” Smith, D-Wash., said in a tweet Thursday. “VP Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th amendment to remove Trump, otherwise Senate Republicans must work with the House to impeach & remove him.”
The mob’s storming of Congress has prompted outrage, mostly from Democrats but from Republicans as well, as lawmakers accused Trump of fomenting the violence with his relentless falsehoods about election fraud.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said in a statement, adding: “If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
“Yesterday, the president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against the American people,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also called the attack, “an attempted coup.”
“If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus and the American people,” Pelosi said, adding “While there’s only 13 days left [in Trump’s term], any day can be a horror show for America.”
The lone Republican to call for Trump’s immediate ouster, as of Thursday afternoon, was Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Air National Guard.
“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 video posted to Twitter. “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 the ship.”
Republicans have yet to back those plans, but some are casting blame on Trump.
“There is no question that the President formed the mob. The President incited mob, the President addressed the mob,” Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of the House leadership, said on Fox News. “He lit the flame.”
The calls came as Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner early Thursday, and Trump reversed his refused to concede the election. Trump said in a statement immediately after the vote that there will be a smooth transition of power on Inauguration Day.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by an aide.
Before the riot at the Capitol, Trump urged Pence to take steps to overturn the election in a speech to supporters near the White House. Pence had written to lawmakers confirming that he did not believe he had the “unilateral authority” to reject electoral votes.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said the president’s calls had angered Pence.
“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Inhofe told the Tulsa World on Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”
Democrats are applying public pressure on Trump administration officials to take the extraordinary step of removing Trump preemptively.
A group of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Pence Wednesday evening calling on him to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office following the day’s chaotic events.
Trump, “shouldn’t be trusted with the power of the Oval Office, even with what little time he has remaining,” incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. said in a tweet, adding: “One way or another, he must step down or be removed.”
“I think Donald Trump probably should be brought up on treason for something like this,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., told reporters. “This is how a coup is started. And this is how democracy dies.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.