As the House passed a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Donald Trump, the vice president referenced the Bible as part of his explanation to House Democrats as to why he would not be taking that action.
The House voted 223-205 just before midnight Tuesday in favor of a measure that called on “Vice President Michael R. Pence to convene and mobilize the principal officers of the executive departments of the Cabinet to activate section 4 of the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald J. Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting President.” The vote came down along party lines, with all 222 House Democrats voting in favor of it and all but one House Republican voting against it.
The 25th Amendment push came less than a week after hundreds of fringe Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes for the 2020 presidential election. The storming of the Capitol came as the president was delivering his speech at the Save America March that was peacefully attended by hundreds of thousands of his supporters. After his speech, thousands walked to the Capitol where another planned rally and speakers were to be held in the afternoon. At that time the riots had already begun.
In his speech to supporters, the president said Republicans need to “fight much harder.” He also urged them to protest the certification of the election results, which he argues were tainted by fraud.
“We’re going to cheer on brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Trump added, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
While the president said he would go with his supporters to the Capitol, he didn't, though he encouraged them to “fight like hell” for the country.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. “Let the weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”
Trump's critics argue that the speech incited the violence that resulted in the deaths of five Americans.
Police shot and killed an unarmed woman as she attempted to climb through a smashed door pane into the House chamber during the riot while three others died from health emergencies. A U.S. Capitol police officer died Thursday after he suffered injuries while responding to the breach. Another Capitol police officer who responded to the riot died by suicide on Saturday. It's unknown whether the riot and aftermath contributed to his decision to take his own life.
For his part, Pence said he has no intention of invoking the 25th Amendment with just a week to go until Trump’s term in office expires. “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven … a time to heal, … and a time to build up.’ That time is now. In the midst of a global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6th, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time for us to heal,” he added.
Pence recalled how Pelosi, when introducing legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, said that a “President’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts” and stressed the importance of “not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like, but based on a medical decision.” Contending that Pelosi’s previous analysis was “right,” the vice president warned that “invoking the 25th Amendment in this manner would set a terrible precedent.”
Calling on Pelosi and her colleagues “to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment,” Pence urged them to “work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.” He closed by pledging to “continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration and to ensure an orderly transition of power.”
While the effort to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment is certain to fail given Pence’s position on the matter, House Democrats and a handful of House Republicans have come out in support of impeaching the president after the storming of the Capitol. On Wednesday, the House began debating on the article of impeachment, which accuses Trump of committing an “incitement of insurrection” and a vote is expected later in the day.
In addition to Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a frequent critic of the president and the only House Republican who voted in favor of the measure urging Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, four other House Republicans have indicated that they will vote in favor of impeachment. CBS News reports that the others are Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
In his speech to supporters last week, the president singled out Cheney as an example of a congressional Republican he would like to see primaried, citing disagreements with her views on foreign policy. Katko represents a district carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 while Upton and Herrera Beutler represent districts narrowly carried by Trump in both 2016 and 2020, according to Daily Kos Elections.
In light of the Democrats’ majority in the House as well as the support from the aforementioned Republicans, articles of impeachment seem likely to pass in the House, where only a simple majority is required.
Should the House successfully pass the articles of impeachment, Trump would become the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. However, conviction would require the support of two-thirds of senators.
Currently, Republicans and Democrats each have 50 Senate seats. So far, the number of Republicans who have expressed openness to the possibility of supporting impeachment is far below the two-thirds threshold, which is equivalent to 67 Senators.
Since the Senate remains out of session until Jan. 19, just one day before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to take office, the removal of Trump via impeachment before his term expires is extremely unlikely. Whether a president who leaves office is still subject to impeachment and removal is the subject of debate among legal scholars.