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Can Donald Trump be removed from White House before Joe Biden's inauguration? Explained

The storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters has prompted calls by some lawmakers to remove him from office before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
Washington Updated on: January 15, 2021 21:06 IST
us capitol attack
Image Source : AP (FILE)

Can Donald Trump be removed from White House before Joe Biden's inauguration? Explained

The US Congress has resumed the final stage of the confirmation of Joe Biden as the next President and Kamala Harris as the Vice President, hours after sitting President Donald Trump's supporters violently stormed the Capitol building. According to police, Four people have died as Trump supporters violently occupied the US Capitol in a bid to overturn the election results. The deceased included a woman who was shot by the US Capitol Police and three others who died in medical emergencies.

Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared. Officials have claimed that they recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds. 

According to a report in the AP, police have arrested 30 people for violating a curfew imposed in Washington after rioters stormed the US Capitol. 

READ MORE: US Capitol breached by Donald Trump supporters, four dead

The storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters has prompted calls by some lawmakers to remove him from office before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20. Lawmakers have accused Trump of inciting his supporters. 

"As duly-elected members of Congress, we have the awesome responsibility to report the certification of the Electoral College on January 6 as outlined in the Constitution. Today, President Trump attempted to prevent us from completing this responsibility and disrupted democracy," Congressman Steven Horsford said. "For the first time since the War of 1812, the United States Capitol was breached today. The violence and insurrection that I witnessed was in direct conflict with the ideals and principles that uphold our democratic institutions, and they are unprecedented in modern times."

"After today's violence, I have no other choice but to fulfil my own Constitutional responsibility and call for President Trump's removal. President Trump must be impeached and removed from office immediately," he said.

What is 25th Amendment?

The 25th Amendment, adopted more than 50 years ago in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination, provides a mechanism for the succession of the president for his or her replacement in the event he or she proves unfit to serve. Under the amendment, the vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet or some other body designated by Congress may remove the president from office.

Section 4 addresses situations where a president is unable to do the job but does not step down voluntarily. The drafters of the 25th Amendment clearly intended for it to apply when a president is incapacitated by a physical or mental illness, experts say. Some scholars have also argued that it could also apply more broadly to a president who is dangerously unfit for office.

For the 25th Amendment to be invoked, Pence and the majority of Trump’s Cabinet would need to declare that Trump is unable to perform the duties of the presidency and remove him. Pence would take over, in that scenario.

Can Trump be impeached?

Trump can be impeached if the House of Representatives approves charges that a president engaged in a “high crime or misdemeanor”. , the  - similar to an indictment in a criminal case. House of Representatives, also the lower chamber of Congress, has 435 chairs where the Democrats have a slim majority. Once the charges are approved, the process will move to the Senate. Senate is the upper chamber of Congress. Senate which hold a trial to determine the president is guilt. 

The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict and remove a president.

Back in December 2019, Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hw was, however, acquitted by the Republican-led Senate in February 2020.

Mike Pence's role

Congressman Earl Blumenauer called for Articles of Impeachment against Trump. He also urged Vice President Mike Pence and members of the US Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove the president from office as quickly as possible. "Let's be clear about what happened here. The President of the United States sent a mob of domestic terrorists down Pennsylvania Avenue to attack and take over the US Capitol in order to stop the certification of an election that he lost badly," Blumenauer said, adding, "This man needs to be removed immediately and I am hopeful he will face further consequences for his actions."

"This is not a one-off incident. It is the result of years of collaboration on the part of the Republican Party, who have aided and abetted Trump's criminal attempts to destroy our republic, and the cause of democracy around the world," said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. "All leaders should denounce this coup. And the President should be impeached and removed from office for his open sedition," she said.

'Trump grave threat to democracy'

According to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the acts of "domestic terrorism" at the Capitol makes it clear that Trump is a "grave threat to our democracy who must immediately be removed from office". "By actively inciting a violent insurrection, he has endangered the lives of members of Congress and staff, and once again demonstrated his contempt for democratic rule of law and the will of the American people," she said. Asserting that Trump presents a clear and direct threat to the democracy and national security, Pressley said, "Our nation cannot afford one more day with him in office. As such, Trump must immediately be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the United States Senate." 

Congressman Jimmy Gomez also demanded that Trump be removed from office as he called on Congress to finish certifying the 2020 presidential election results immediately.

"If Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump cabinet lack the sound judgement and moral fortitude to exercise the 25th Amendment, I respectfully call on my House Judiciary Committee colleagues to quickly introduce articles of impeachment against the president," he said.

IN PICS: Scenes of violence at US Capitol shock world

President Trump must be removed from office immediately. He is unfit to lead the nation, said Congresswoman Kathy Manning.

Meanwhile, 17 House Judiciary Democrats in a statement called on Vice President Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

"President Trump is a rogue Commander-in-Chief who represents a credible threat to our national security, our democratic institutions and the people of this country," said Congressman Anthony Brown.

"Today, Americans and people around the globe witnessed the shameful display of the president encouraging a mob to incite rebellion and overturn the results of a free and fair election. President Trump has once again betrayed his oath of office and demonstrated his extreme unfitness to lead. We cannot have a man actively orchestrating sedition leading our nation's government for another fourteen days, let alone giving orders to our men and women in uniform," he said.

READ MORE: US Capitol violence: PM Modi appalled, says 'unlawful protests cannot subvert democratic process'

Brown said as the world's most powerful democracy, the US cannot turn a blind eye to Trump's dangerous behaviour to undermine the Constitution and subvert the will of the American people. "We cannot wait until January 20. Donald Trump is a subversive and must be removed from office," he said.

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and Congressman Don Beyer also called for the immediate impeachment of Trump and the expulsion of those members of Congress who continue to stand in the way of the certification of the free and fair election.

With PTI Inputs 

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