Before the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday night asking the vice president to consider using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, Pence said he would do no such thing.
WASHINGTON (CN) — The House of Representatives passed a resolution 223 to 205 on Tuesday night beseeching Vice President Mike Pence to reflect on the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week and consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump but Pence refused.
Pence’s decision was issued to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a letter before the vote could even be finished.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence said. “Last week, I did not yield to the pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation.”
Pence’s refusal to even reflect on the request means that President Donald Trump now stares down the barrel of impeachment — for a second time.
Impeachment, Pelosi has warned all week, would be the only course left to rectify the wrongs incited by Trump.
Six days ago, Pence saw a lawless mob scream for his execution as they ransacked the seat of the U.S. government. By Monday afternoon, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democrat, introduced a 6-page resolution calling on Pence to reflect on his constitutional duty and “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 when the measure was being debated before the vote on Tuesday.
The resolution specifically does not force Pence to do anything, despite the objections issued ahead of the vote from Republican members and from Pence himself.
“As you full well know, the 25th Amendment was designed to address presidential incapacity or disability. Just a few months ago, when you introduced legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, you said a president’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts,” Pence wrote. “You said then that we must be very respectful of not making a judgement on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like but based on a medical decision.”
Pence continued: “Madam Speaker, you were right. Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent.”
The resolution only asks Pence to merely consider the threat Trump poses and weigh his possible removal through the 25th Amendment. It was Trump who incited, “widely advertised and broadly encouraged” millions of his followers on Twitter and other social media platforms to visit Washington on Jan. 6, the resolution states, and to 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 lawmakers 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 continues, 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.
While many Republicans in the House were opposed to passing Raskin’s resolution on the grounds that it too divisive or would become a pointless time-suck, Pennsylvania Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat, made her case for supporting the resolution bluntly.
“I don’t care if a president incites a riot against Congress on the first day or the last day of his presidency,” Scanlon said. “If a president can refuse to acknowledge the will of the American voters and incite a coup to stay in power without punishment, then our democracy is lost.”
Only one Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois voted in favor of passing the resolution.
Republican Representatives like Ohio lawmaker Jim Jordan were adamantly against the measure.
“The rule is for the bill that says we should tell the Vice President of the United States to work to remove the President of the United States,” Jordan said from the House floor. “I’ve been here 14 years, I’ve never seen anything like this and I do not know where this ends … But it’s dangerous where they’re taking this. You couple this with what we’re seeing from the cancel culture mob out there, I do not know where this takes us.”
Late into Tuesday night as lawmakers debated on the House floor, Jordan also complained it was “cancel culture” that was responsible for the animosity towards Trump and that it had unfairly dogged his single term presidency.
Raskin, calmly, replied: “The cancel culture of violent white supremacy tried to cancel all of our lives.”
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, tried to disabuse Jordan and others of the notion that Raskin’s resolution would usurp power from Pence in any way.
“We are a coequal branch of government,” Jackson Lee said. “Representative Raskin’s resolution is appropriate … it’s not a violation of the Constitution because it is the congress calling upon the vice president to reflect on Jan. 6, a day that will live in infamy.”
Pence’s move was predictable. Though marauding groups of the president’s supporters, white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and “Where’s Nancy,” as they left blood and broken glass in their wake, Pence has indicated all week he would continue the work of the administration.
A makeshift gallows was also erected outside of the Capitol last week and Trump, during the attack, tweeted to his supporters: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country.”
Raskin’s resolution calling on Pence to act also pointed to Trump’s weeks-long pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election results and the incident where, 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” by which he lost the race there.
The next step is impeachment. An impeachment resolution charging Trump with incitement of insurrection will be brought to the floor of the House first thing Wednesday morning. Pelosi named her impeachment managers roughly a half hour after Pence sent his letter. The lead impeachment manager will be Raskin, and he will be joined by Representatives Diana DeGette of Colorado, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Ted Lieu of California, Stacey Plaskett, delegate to the House for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Joe Neguse of Colorado and Madeline Dean of Pennsylvania.
The votes required to impeach Trump in the House appear to be there and it is increasingly likely the former reality television host will become the only president in American history impeached twice.
In an exclusive from The New York Times published late Tuesday night, a seismic attitude shift toward the outgoing president is being reported.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to be “pleased” that Democrats are bringing the impeachment article to the floor and believes the events of last week constituted an insurrection.
The Kentucky Republican’s thinking, reportedly, is that purging Trump from the GOP now before giving him another chance to upend the party down the road is the shrewd call.
Republican Senators Liz Cheney of Wyoming and John Katko of New York were the first of their party to say outright they would support calls for impeachment.
“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action,” Katko said in a statement Tuesday.
Senator Liz Cheney, the third most powerful Republican in the Senate, blasted Trump.
“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” she said.
This is a developing story …