Biden Administration Leaves Trump's Potential Removal in Hands of Pence, Lawmakers

The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers should "act as they see fit" in regards to growing calls for President Donald Trump's removal from office.

During a Wednesday rally, Trump had encouraged a crowd at a Stop the Steal rally to head to the Capitol. Pro-Trump supporters arrived at the Capitol building as Congress met in a joint session to certify Biden's victory in the Electoral College. Rioters, some of them armed, breached the Capitol building and were able to access meeting rooms and offices while Pence and members of the Senate were evacuated. Many lawmakers blamed Trump for the riot, which left 4 people dead.

Some have called for Pence to remove Trump from office for the remainder of his term under the auspices of the 25th Amendment, which provides for the Vice President to take over if the President is unable to perform the duties of the office. Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates said Thursday that Trump's immediate political future was not up to Biden to decide.

"President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are focused on their duty—preparing to take office on January 20th—and will leave it to Vice President Pence, the Cabinet and the Congress to act as they see fit," Bates wrote. "In the meantime, Donald Trump must stop blocking cooperation with the transition that could harm the readiness of the United States government to overcome the pandemic and the other crises he has worsened."

In reference to the Wednesday Capitol riots, Bates said that Trump's "actions to foment a violent mob in a vain attack on our democracy, which overwhelmingly failed, were repugnant."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

biden administration amendment 25 trump removal
Although President-elect Joe Biden has condemned President Donald Trump for the Wednesday riots at the U.S. Capitol, his administration has not specifically endorsed enacting the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have encouraged the use of the 25th Amendment. "The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment," tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday.

"If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up," Schumer added, "Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump."

The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment.

If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 7, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Schumer's remarks while speaking with reporters on Thursday. While acknowledging that Trump had less than two weeks remaining in his term, Pelosi said that "any day can be a horror show for America."

In a video posted to social media, Illinois GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger encouraged Pence and members of the Cabinet to "end this nightmare" by enacting the amendment to remove Trump from office.

"Sadly, yesterday it became evident that not only has the president abdicated his duty to protect the American people and the people's House, he invoked and inflamed passions that only gave fuel to the insurrection that we saw here," Kinzinger said. "It's time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare."

In order for the 25th Amendment to be enacted, either Pence a majority of the Cabinet would have to say in writing that Trump is not fit to hold office. However, if Trump refutes that claim, the final decision would be made by Congress. Pence would require a two-thirds Congressional majority in order to serve as acting President.

The Senate is not slated to meet again until January 20 while the House is not scheduled to reconvene until after Biden's inauguration.