Top Democrats press for Trump’s immediate removal from office

(Erin Schaff | The New York Times) Pro-Trump protesters storm the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, on the same day as a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election. President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election came to a dangerous head on Wednesday when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally in which Trump once again falsely claimed widespread voter fraud.

Washington • The top Democrats in Congress called on Thursday for President Donald Trump’s immediate removal from office for his role in urging on the violent mob that overtook the Capitol a day before, disrupting the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows him and the Cabinet to wrest the power of the presidency from Trump.

If Pence declines to act, they said Democrats were prepared to impeach Trump for a second time.

“While it’s only 13 days left, any day can be a horror show for America,” Pelosi said, calling Trump’s actions Wednesday a “seditious act.”

In an extraordinary news conference in the reclaimed Capitol, Pelosi singled out members of the Cabinet by name, asking why they would not intervene.

“Are they ready to say for the next 13 days this dangerous man can assault our democracy?” Pelosi said of the Cabinet.

She said she hoped to have an answer from Pence within the day on whether he would attempt to use the 25th Amendment. The two leaders tried to call Pence directly Thursday but were left on a holding line for 20 minutes without Pence picking up.

It was unclear how quickly Democrats could move to impeach Trump. There is no clear precedent for putting a former official on trial in the Senate, and with only 13 days left in his term, it was not certain Democrats could actually accomplish such a complicated and politically fraught process on a compressed timetable.

Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said, “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.”

Pelosi was the most prominent voice in a growing chorus of Democrats, and a few Republicans, who surveyed the aftermath of Wednesday’s historic events and concluded Trump was too dangerous to remain in office until Jan. 20, when Biden is set to be sworn in.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., had issued a similar call earlier Thursday, posting on Twitter that the president had become “unmoored not just from his duty or from his oath but from reality itself.”

His statement followed similar ones by Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif., on Wednesday; and a letter signed by 17 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee was sent to Pence calling to invoke the 25th Amendment.

On Thursday morning, a Washington-based law firm, Crowell & Moring, which represents a number of Fortune 500 companies, added its voice to the growing chorus of civic and business leaders calling for the president’s removal. In asking other lawyers to join, the firm said that “when it comes to defending our Constitution and our system of laws, we have a special duty and an exceptional perspective.”

A bipartisan group of more than two dozen lawyers, including a former top Trump administration official, also called on Thursday for Trump to be removed from office.

“Both constitutional remedies are necessary and appropriate to hold Trump accountable and to protect the nation,” the group said. “Those processes should be carried out immediately, unless he resigns first.”

The group included many conservative lawyers, including the former general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, John Mitnick; and the ardent Trump critic George Conway, the husband of Trump’s former adviser Kellyanne Conway. Also among the group was the liberal Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe.