The Washington Post’s editorial board took the extreme step on Wednesday of calling for President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to remove him from office after he encouraged a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol building.
“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,” reads the piece, published to the Post’s Opinion section Wednesday night.
The editorial board urged Vice President Mike Pence and the rest of Trump’s Cabinet to meet immediately and invoke the 25th Amendment, a law that allows the vice president 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.
“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.”
The Miami Herald editorial board also called for Trump to be removed from office in an article published Wednesday night. The board called Trump “deranged, dangerous and incapacitated,” and urged Trump’s cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.
“There can be no doubt that the president is prepared to have his minions scorch the Earth and blow up democracy itself in order to stay in power. He is that determined, that desperate and that indifferent to anything other than staying in the Oval Office,” the article reads. “America cannot wait, with fear and bated breath, to see what abomination comes during the next 13 days.”
It would be highly unusual for Trump’s own Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to get him out of office. The 25th Amendment has been invoked in the past, but never to remove a sitting president. George W. Bush invoked it twice for himself during his presidency, and Ronald Reagan invoked it once ― all to undergo medical procedures.
But the day’s events were also highly unusual. During a Wednesday morning rally, Trump reiterated conspiracy theories that Democrats stole the election and urged his supporters to go to the Capitol building and tell lawmakers how they felt. Just a few hours later, hundreds of Trump supporters barged into the Capitol building ― tearing down security barriers and violently clashing with police.
Although the president eventually ordered the National Guard to the Capitol building, he overall did very little to discourage the mob. At one point, he posted a video to Twitter calling for peace but then reiterated that Democrats stole the election. There were multiple reports of injuries, and the Associated Press reported four people died as Trump’s supporters occupied the building. Trump has been banned from posting on his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages because his tweets incited violence.
Two weeks before Trump leaves office, the president’s irrational and violent behaviour may have finally pushed some of his allies to turn against him. CBS News reported on Wednesday night that some of Trump’s Cabinet members are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment following his encouragement of violence in the Capitol. Two White House aides, including first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham and White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, have already resigned in the wake of the pro-Trump riots.
“The very fact that the highest levels of the US government and cabinet members are discussing this is quite newsworthy, quite notable,” CBS News’ Margaret Brennan said.
On the left, more than 20 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Pence Wednesday night urging the vice president to invoke the amendment. “For the sake of our democracy, we emphatically urge you to invoke the 25h Amendment and begin the process of removing President Trump from power,” the letter reads. “President Trump has shown time and again that he is unwilling to protect our Democracy and carry out the duties of the office.”
“Dear @VP @Mike_Pence: You need to start the 25th Amendment. @realDonaldTrump is detached from reality,” tweeted California Congressman Ted Lieu, one of the Democrats included in the House Judiciary Committee letter.
Senator Patty Murray voiced support for removing Trump as well.
“The most immediate way to ensure the President is prevented from causing further harm in coming days is to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office,” Murray said in a statement early Thursday morning.
A few dozen lawmakers also called for Trump to be impeached for the second time in his presidency. While impeachment and invoking the 25th Amendment are logistically different, most calling for either are looking for the same thing: to get Trump out of office.
The Republican governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, called for Trump to be removed from office in a series of tweets Wednesday evening. “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,” Scott tweeted.