Widespread calls have been made to remove Donald Trump from office with immediate effect after the outgoing US president encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building.
Four people were killed on Wednesday, including a woman shot by law enforcement, as the violent crowd smashed their way into the government building, with two pipe bombs found and dismantled by police.
Trump directly told his supporters to march on Capitol Hill during a speech made earlier in the day, during which he promised to “never concede” said “theft” had been involved in the outcome of the general election.
The president failed to urge his supporters, many of whom were heard chanting “stop the steal” to go home as the violence escalated, tweeting a video more than an hour after the Capitol itself had been breached finally asking the crowd to “go home”.
But even that instruction was mired with repeated allegations of a fraudulent election and telling the violent mob he felt their “pain”.
The president’s incitement and encouragement of Wednesday’s events has led to urgent calls for him to be removed from office with immediate effect, despite being just days away from the end of his presidential term and the inauguration of Joe Biden.
Within hours of police regaining control of the Capitol two routes to Trump’s removal had already been set out.
The first is impeachment – a second time for Trump – called for by several Democratic lawmakers, and one Republican.
Democrat representative Ilhan Omar said on Wednesday afternoon that she was already drawing up articles of impeachment, as many politicians remained under lockdown inside the Capitol building.
“Donald J Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the United States Senate,” she tweeted.
“We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfil our oath.”
The Republican governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, also called for Trump to resign or be removed from office in a series of tweets Wednesday evening.
“President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election,” Scott tweeted. “There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us — step by step — to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history.”
“The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President. Enough is enough,” he added.
US advocacy organisations, including civil rights leaders the NAACP, Stand Up America and Citizens for Ethics, have also called for Trump’s impeachment. In a Wednesday statement, NAACP president Derrick Johnson accused Trump of inciting a coup due to his “reckless leadership, a pervasive misuse of power, and anarchy.”
Invoking the 25th Amendment
The second route to Trump’s removal is via the 25th Amendment, as called for by several news publications, including the Washington Post.
The 25th Amendment is a law that allows the vice president – in this case Mike Pence, who Trump attacked on Wednesday – to take over presidential duties if the president is no longer able to do her or his job due to sickness or disability.
Once a president is removed under the 25th Amendment, the vice president and cabinet members can decide if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the White House.
The amendment itself, introduced in 1967, has never been triggered before.
A scathing editorial, published to the Washington Post’s Opinion section on Wednesday night, states: “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.”
The editorial board went on to urge Pence and the rest of Trump’s cabinet to meet immediately and invoke the 25th Amendment.
They added: “Americans put on their seat belts, follow traffic laws, pay taxes and vote because of faith in a system – and that faith makes it work,” the article continues.
“The highest voice in the land incited people to break that faith, not just in tweets, but by inciting them to action. Mr Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.”
Reports emerging since the outgoing president’s election loss and on Wednesday itself have indicated that Trump – who has continually peddled baseless conspiracy theories in an increasingly desperate bid to cling on to power – has become entirely obsessed with falsely “proving” the election to be fraudulent.
CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said on Wednesday that a Republican source had told him he believed Trump is “out of his mind”.
Acosta said: “I take no pleasure in reporting this, but this source tells me that he believes the president is out of his mind.”
He continued: “The source said the president is so traumatised by his loss in the election, it is all he can talk about, it is all he can think about, it’s all consuming for him.”