WASHINGTON: Members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet on Wednesday discussed the possibility of removing Trump from office after his supporters stormed the Capitol, three US news channels reported.
The discussions focused on the 25th amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president’s removal by the vice president and cabinet if he is judged “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Invoking it would require Vice President Michael Pence to lead the cabinet in a vote on removing him.
The reports came after the head of a major US business group that represents 14,000 companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, Pfizer Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. urged senior US officials to consider removing Trump from office.
CNN quoted unnamed Republican leaders saying the 25th amendment had been discussed, saying they had described Trump as “out of control.”
Trump has 14 days remaining in office before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
The mayhem at the Capitol forced Congress to temporarily postpone a session to certify Biden’s victory.
The chaotic scenes unfolded after Trump, who before the election refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost, addressed thousands of supporters near the White House, repeating unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him due to widespread fraud and irregularities.
CBS reporter Margaret Brennan said that “nothing formal” had been presented to Pence, and ABC reporter Katherine Faulders said “multiple” sources had told her that discussions took place on the unprecedented move.
Trump’s encouragement of the protesters, his unfounded claims that he lost the November 3 presidential election due to massive fraud, and other bizarre behavior have raised questions about his ability to lead.
While only two weeks remain before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, after the attacks on Congress Wednesday Democratic lawmakers called for invoking the 25th Amendment as well.
Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Pence urging him to act to remove Trump, saying he had stoked an act of insurrection and “sought to undermine our democracy.”
Pointing to a rambling speech Trump gave Wednesday, it said he “revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election.”
Others blamed Trump for fueling terrorism.
“The President incited a domestic terror attack on the Capitol. He is an imminent threat to our democracy and he needs to be removed from office immediately,” said Representative Kathleen Rice in a tweet.
“The Cabinet must invoke the 25th Amendment,” she wrote.
The lawmakers’ call was echoed by the influential Washington Post.
“Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to US democracy. He should be removed,” the Post said.
“The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security,” they said.
National Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Jay Timmons said Trump “incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. ... Vice President (Mike) Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.”
Other business groups issued strong statements but did not go as far as the manufacturers’ group. Under the amendment’s Section 4, never invoked, the vice president and a majority of either Cabinet officials or “such other body as Congress may by law provide” may declare in writing that the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Several Democratic lawmakers in Congress also urged Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.
The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of some of America’s biggest companies, said that “the chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election.”
They called on Trump “and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power,” the group said in a statement.
‘Time to come together’
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said “those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account, and we must complete the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration.”
JPMorgan Chase Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said: “Our elected leaders have a responsibility to call for an end to the violence, accept the results, and, as our democracy has for hundreds of years, support the peaceful transition of power. Now is the time to come together to strengthen our exceptional union.”
Blackstone Group Chief Executive Steve Schwarzman, a Trump ally, said in a statement: “The insurrection that followed the President’s remarks today is appalling and an affront to the democratic values we hold dear as Americans. I am shocked and horrified by this mob’s attempt to undermine our constitution.”
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an internal message reported earlier by Axios and confirmed by a company official that “we need our political leaders to lead by example and put the nation first.... We removed the recent video of President Trump’s remarks expressing support for the people causing the violence. We are treating this situation as an emergency.”
General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Twitter that “the violence at the US Capitol does not reflect who we are as a nation. It’s imperative that we come together as a country and reinforce the values and ideals that unite us.”
The head of the US Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby based near the White House, said that “attacks against our nation’s Capitol Building and our democracy must end now.”
“The Congress of the United States must gather again this evening to conclude their Constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the Electoral College,” Thomas Donohue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
Lawmakers reconvened shortly after 8 p.m. (0100 GMT on Thursday) to resume the election certification.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today — you did not win,” Pence said as the session resumed. “Let’s get back to work,” he said.