Local, state and national leaders are calling for President Donald Trump’s removal from office after a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the November election staged an insurrection Wednesday and stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying President-Elect Joe Biden’s electoral college win.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., a member of the Bipartisan Senate Homeland Security and Rules Committee, issued a statement Friday morning criticizing the president’s actions and encouraging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
“The President violated his oath of office and incited a violent attack on our Capitol and democracy,” Peters wrote. “He poses a clear and present danger to the American people and our national security. He should immediately be removed from office. I stand with many others – including the National Association of Manufacturers – in supporting the Vice President and Cabinet invoking the 25th amendment.”
The 25th Amendment says that the Vice President will take over the role of President in the event that the President is removed from office or dies. For the amendment to be invoked, a majority of cabinet secretaries and Pence would be required to sign a letter to House and Senate leadership declaring the President unable to govern. Pence has indicated that he is unlikely to move forward with the removal of the President.
In a tweet on Thursday, state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said he agreed with Peters that Trump should be removed from office immediately.
“His derangement is intensifying and he should not have access to American resources, American information, and American nuclear codes,” Irwin wrote. “He is a disgrace to the Presidency and he is undermining national security every day.”
Two cabinet secretaries, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — a Michigan native — and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, have resigned as a result of the riot at the Capitol. Neither DeVos nor Chao have called for impeachment. Several other White House aides have also stepped down, echoing the former cabinet members’ concerns.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who represents Ann Arbor, released a similar statement to Peters and Irwin, calling Wednesday one of the “saddest days in American history” in a press release Friday. According to the Detroit Free Press, Dingell does not see impeachment as a “very viable option” given that only 12 days remain in Trump’s term.
“I think that the real question is — I will be frank and very honest — how do we minimize any further damage for the remaining days in this administration?” Dingell said. “And that we all – and I’m going to say this to my Republican colleagues, the members of the cabinet, and to Vice President Pence – you have a responsibility to this country to make sure there is no further damage to this democracy.”
Trump spoke in a video released on Twitter early Thursday morning — after being temporarily suspended from the platform — stating he would participate in a peaceful transition of power as talks of his removal from office grew among Washington’s lawmakers. As of Friday evening, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter and banned from Facebook and Instagram for at least 14 days once his term is over.
“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.
On Friday, Trump tweeted he would not attend the Jan. 20 inauguration, thanking the “75,000,000 Americans who voted for (him)” and saying they “will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form.” This is a significant breach of tradition, as former presidents typically attend the inauguration for the incoming administration.
Congressional leadership has begun to diverge on whether Trump should be removed from office.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
"This is urgent, this is an emergency of the highest magnitude," Pelosi said. “(Trump) is a very dangerous person who should not continue in office."
Pelosi said if the 25th Amendment is not invoked or Trump does not resign, she is prepared to conduct impeachment proceedings as soon as next week. More than 200 lawmakers have supported Pelosi’s calls for removal, the vast majority being Democrats.
Trump was impeached by the House in Jan. 2020 but was not removed by the Senate. If a second impeachment is successful, Trump would be the first president to be impeached twice.
U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, a long-time Trump ally, disagreed with Pelosi’s call for impeachment and said it is time for both parties to “heal the nation.”
“If Speaker Pelosi pushes impeachment in the last days of the Trump presidency it will do more harm than good,” Graham wrote. “I’m hopeful President-elect Biden sees the damage that would be done from such action.”
Both the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans and its chapter of College Democrats released statements Wednesday condemning the Capitol attack, though neither have explicitly called for Trump’s removal. The statement from the University’s College Republicans urged fellow Republicans to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
“The Electoral College spoke and made it clear that Joseph Biden should be elected as our nation’s next President,” the statement reads. “As such, we recognize President-Elect Biden’s victory, and we call on other Republicans to do the same. It is also time for our party, and the country, to move on from President Donald Trump.”
The University’s chapter of College Democrats directed The Daily to their previous comment on Wednesday’s riot, in which they called it “an unprecedented, frightening event that is the result of years of Trump’s hateful and dangerous rhetoric.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a joint statement with former Gov. Rick Snyder, calling Wednesday’s events “truly appalling.” The pair has not publicly called for Trump’s removal from office.
“Violence, vandalism, and insurrection have no place in this great country of ours,” they wrote. “And let’s move forward together as one United States of America.”
Daily Staff Reporter Sarah Payne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.
For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.