After the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol Wednesday and the president's reaction to the violence, members of his party reportedly want him removed from power

By Ashley Boucher
January 07, 2021 12:30 AM
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Discussions are being had among some of Donald Trump's Cabinet members and top Republicans about the potential of invoking the 25th Amendment to strip the president of his power, according to multiple news reports.

The amendment allows the vice president along with a majority of the Cabinet to have the president's powers temporarily transferred to the vice president unless he contests the issue, at which point Congress would vote on the matter within a set time frame.

Sources have told ABC News, CBS News and CNN that following his response to the violent riot at the Capitol building, during which one woman was fatally shot and three other people died after having medical emergencies, Trump should be removed from power if not removed from office entirely.

The scope and seriousness of these discussions was not immediately clear. CBS reported that any plan about the 25th Amendment hadn't been presented to Mike Pence.

One elected Republican official told CNN, however, that Trump "has to be impeached and removed." A former senior official added to the outlet of Wednesday's chaos, "I think this has been a huge shock to the system. How do you keep him in place for two weeks after this?"

Donald Trump
| Credit: Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

CNN reported that, per one source, "Some Cabinet members are holding preliminary discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment."

According to ABC News, sources had briefed them on conversations about using the amendment to remove Trump's powers for the remaining two weeks of his presidency before Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

If invoked, section four of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution can at least temporarily “sideline” the president for days or weeks at a time, Larry Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, previously explained to PEOPLE.

Under the amendment, the president is not removed from office as he would be under impeachment. But his powers are stripped temporarily — or even permanently, should two-thirds of Congress ultimately side with the vice president and make him acting president.

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
| Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty

If the 25th Amendment were indeed invoked, it would be unprecedented: The complicated process has never been done.

The option exists “if the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet members decide that the president [is unfit for] office, that he’s got Alzheimer’s or doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about," Tribe previously said.

Essentially, members of the president's own party would have to act against him and the voters and outside of Congress.

Wednesday saw unprecedented scenes in Washington, D.C.

As lawmakers in Congress were in the midst of counting Electoral College votes to certify President-elect Biden's win, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building, forcing the joint session to be temporarily suspended and sending lawmakers into seclusion.

Pro-Trump rioters breach the Capitol
| Credit: Win McNamee/Getty

Trump had previously addressed the crowd near the White House at a rally earlier Wednesday before encouraging them to go to Congress and voice their anger "peacefully and patriotically" — even as he described Democrats as trying to "illegally take over our country" and warned "if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore."

"We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building," Trump said then.

"We’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give ... our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country," Trump said.

Motivated by the president, the rioters stormed the Capitol and were photographed scaling the building's walls, breaking windows, roaming through the building, looting and vandalizing, including in congressional chambers and lawmaker offices. Rioters also ripped an American flag off of a flagpole outside the Capitol building and replaced it with a Trump flag.

RELATED VIDEO: Pro-Trump Rioters Storm U.S. Capitol, Forcing Evacuation of Lawmakers

The National Guard was called in, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a curfew beginning at 6 p.m., but it was hours before the building was cleared out and declared secure.

After the insurrectionary mob took over the Capitol, Trump blamed his election loss for the rioting and wrote that "these are the things and events that happen ... Remember this day forever!" (Twitter soon removed the post.)

Amid the chaos, Biden called for an end to the violence and for Trump to call his supporters off.

Trump also tweeted a video about the rioters, saying "we love you, you're very special" and doubling down on the baseless claims that the election was "stolen from us" before adding "we have to have peace, so go home."

(The video has been removed or restricted from social channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, due to "risk of violence.")

National Guard arrives at the Capitol

Vice President Mike Pence broke from Trump on Wednesday when he publicly stated he would not use his power to block Congress' confirmation of Biden as president. In a letter to Congress, Pence wrote that he believes "vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to" American government at its core.

Congress later reconvened to finish the process of counting the Electoral College ballots on Wednesday night.