The House of Representatives is on the cusp of passing a resolution that would ask Vice President Mike Pence to officially deem President Donald Trump unfit for office.
WASHINGTON (CN) — Less than a week after sustaining a barbaric attack by an insurrectionist mob, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote Tuesday night on a resolution to invoke the rarely used 25th Amendment on President Donald Trump.
The resolution is exceedingly likely to pass, but what Vice President Mike Pence will do with it is less certain. Less than a week ago, Pence saw a lawless mob scream for his execution as they ransacked the very seat of the U.S. government.
Introduced Monday by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the 6-page resolution says it is Pence’s constitutional duty to “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation.”
“The time of emergency has arrived, it has arrived at our doorstep, it has arrived in our chamber,” Raskin told members of the House Rules Committee as they convened Tuesday afternoon to debate and finalize the resolution that will come to a vote after nightfall.
Should the resolution pass, it asks Pence to trigger the process underlying the 25th Amendment and at least consider removal because it was Trump who “widely advertised and broadly encouraged” millions of his followers on Twitter and other social media platforms to visit Washington on Jan. 6 and wreak havoc by disputing election results already determined by the public and the Electoral College.
The House and Senate underwent a “massive violent invasion,” the resolution notes, as they gathered last week to count electoral votes already certified for President-elect Joe Biden.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of dangerous individuals descended on the building, the resolution states, expressly motivated to harm or kill the first three people in succession to the presidency — the vice president, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the President pro tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley.
Representative Norma Torres, a California Democrat seated on the House Rules Committee, recounted some of those horrors as lawmakers weighed remains of the day. She was one of about a dozen people trapped in the House gallery last week. Torres heard shots fired, watched tear gas billow around her and witnessed a single police officer face down a raging mob without protective equipment.
Her voice began shaking as she called for passage of the resolution.
“If gunfire in the Capitol, in the Speaker’s Lobby, isn’t what you want, do you have the courage to stand up for basic American principles?” she asked, directing her question not just to Pence generally but to Republicans on the committee, like Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who was adamant Tuesday that he would not support the measure.
Chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and “Where’s Nancy,” the mob terrorized lawmakers, reporters, staff and many law enforcement on site, leaving broken glass and blood as they went. President Trump told his followers via Twitter, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country,” while they erected a makeshift gallows outside of the Capitol.
“Trump incited this attack and there should be no question as to what Vice President Pence needs to do right now,” Torres said.
The resolution implores Pence to use the powers his position affords him and, with immediacy, convene the Cabinet to formally declare Trump unfit for office. With the consent of that body — a 15-member advisory council to the president made up of various department heads — Pence would assume the acting presidency after a bit of procedure.
Pointing to Trump’s weekslong pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, Raskin’s resolution asserts that the depth of Trump’s unfitness is not limited to what he did or said on Jan. 6.
In his own recorded words, Trump threatened Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of “big risk” if the secretary was unable to “find 11,780 votes” that he lost the race there by.
During debate, this reality was summarily dismissed by Congressman Jim Jordan, a Trump ally who attended a “Stop the Steal rally” on Nov. 5 at the Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg.
While Jordan admitted that Biden won the 2020 election during the hearing, he stopped short of acknowledging that more than 80 judges who considered 60-plus lawsuits rejected Trump’s claims that it was fraudulent.
After several minutes of volleying with Jordan, an exasperated Colorado Democrat Representative Ed Perlmutter finally said: “Jim, Jeez!”
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, pursued Jordan pointedly.
“Can you say the five words, ‘the election was not stolen’?’” McGovern said.
Jordan would not.
As for an impeachment resolution charging Trump with incitement of insurrection, Democrats are just a day away from bringing such a measure to the House floor for a vote. The votes to impeach appear to be there, and it is likely Trump will become the only president in American history impeached twice.
Pence has been mostly mum since the mob attack where five people died, having reportedly met Monday with Trump for the first time since the melee.
One senior administration official who was present for the meeting inside of the Oval Office told CNN that the president and vice president “pledged to continue the work on behalf of the country for the remainder of the term.”
The White House has not returned multiple request for comment.
Republicans will likely not have the votes to overcome passage of the Raskin resolution when it hits the floor. For some, its very purpose, even in light of the attacks, remained a mystery on Tuesday.
“You won, OK? You won the presidency. You have a controlling vote in the Senate. You have a controlling majority in the House,” said Arizona Republican Representative Debbie Lesko. “Why continue this? It will just cause more divisiveness. I really don’t understand. Let’s just move on and heal our country.”
The 25th Amendment was born from a bloodletting.
It was 1965 and nearly two years had already passed since President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas. That event changed the course of American politics and, in the process, raised questions long-simmering about the rules of succession. The U.S. Constitution was notably vague as to how, exactly, a vice president becomes president if the commander-in-chief were to die, resign, be removed or become incapacitated.
Ultimately, it was the work of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh and New York Representative Emanuel Celler that jumpstarted the amendment’s formation. The Democratic lawmakers introduced joint resolutions to Congress that set out to elucidate and eventually refine, how presidential succession would function. First approved in 1965 and ratified by the states in 1967, it was signed into law that same year by then President Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s onetime vice president who stepped in to serve as the 36th president of the United States after Kennedy’s assassination.
Gerald Ford, who would later become the nation’s 38th president, spoke from the floor of the House in the spring of 1965 to support the amendment and, in particular, the section of it that lawmakers are invoking today.
Trump’s removal by way of the 25th Amendment hinges on its fourth section, which allows the possibility of succession only upon agreement between the vice president and a majority of the president’s cabinet on whether the president is unable to discharge his duties.
Reflecting on the need to delegate this massive responsibility, Ford, then a House representative for Michigan, said: “There are so many human considerations involved. For example, my motives might well be impugned. Also, there could be the feeling that I might be involved in a quest for personal power. As a result of those considerations, and others, I would have great difficulty in making the decision myself, because I could appreciate the fact and picture the fact that the whole legitimacy of government if I were in the White House, would be clouded and could be affected very seriously.”
Ford said he was “very happy” with the resolution and with Section 4 in particular.
“We cannot legislate for every human consideration that might occur in the future. All we can do is the best that we can under the circumstances,” Ford said in 1965.
This story is developing…