Alex Azar Refuses To Say if Donald Trump Is Still Fit for Office

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has refused to say that President Donald Trump is fit to carry on his duties as Democrats push for a second impeachment in the House.

Azar spoke to ABC's George Stephanopoulos and repeatedly refused to answer questions about Trump's fitness to serve in office or to discuss the 25th Amendment.

The amendment allows the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to strip the president of his executive authority if they deem him unfit. Speculation that the cabinet will invoke the amendment has swirled since the riot at the Capitol on January 6.

"Do you believe the president is able to discharge the duties of his office?" Stephanopoulos asked Azar on Good Morning America.

Azar replied by saying that the riot at the Capitol was an "assault on democracy," but didn't directly answer the question about Trump's fitness.

Stephanopoulos asked again. He pointed to the fact Democrats intend to impeach Trump if he isn't removed via the 25th Amendment.

"I repeat the question: do you believe what the president did last week showed that he is able to discharge the duties of his office or not?" Stephanopoulos asked.

HHS Sec. Alex Azar won't say if he'd vote to remove Trump: "The rhetoric last week was unacceptable. I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here. I've wrestled with this, I'm committed to see this through in my role as Health Sec. during a pandemic..."

— The Recount (@therecount) January 12, 2021

"George, the rhetoric last week was unacceptable," Azar said. "I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here. I'm committed to seeing this through in my role as health secretary during a pandemic to ensure that vaccines and therapeutics get out to the American people and to ensure a smooth hand-off to President-elect [Joe] Biden's team."

Stephanopoulos asked the question a third time but Azar would not be drawn on the 25th Amendment. Stephanopoulos asked about reports that the cabinet had discussed it.

"It would not be appropriate for me to discuss my conversations with colleagues or with the president and vice president," Azar said.

Azar's refusal to say that Trump is fit for office or to dismiss reports that the cabinet has discussed the 25th Amendment will add fuel to speculation about the mood currently in the White House.

House Democrats have said they will proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump unless Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th Amendment and removes the president from power.

There have been conflicting reports about Pence's willingness to invoke the 25th Amendment, but a CNN report on Sunday said the vice president was keeping the option open. This contradicts earlier reports claiming he was opposed to the measure.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Azar has refused to say if the cabinet has discussed the 25th Amendment. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images