House Votes to Ask Pence to Invoke 25th Amendment Against Trump, But Pence Refuses

Members of the House voted Tuesday night to call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Donald Trump, removing him from office before the end of his term, by a vote of 223-205. Five Republicans abstained from voting. Meanwhile, Pence issued a statement earlier on Tuesday stating he would not comply with the requests of lawmakers.

Calls for Pence to enact the 25th Amendment, which allows for a president to be temporarily removed from office, began after pro-Trump supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent Congress from verifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College. Many lawmakers claimed the mob was inspired by remarks made by Trump at a Washington rally. After expanding upon his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, Trump called for the rally attendees to go to the Capitol.

Some members of the mob, some of whom were armed, entered the Capitol rotunda and the offices of some lawmakers. Although the House voted to carry through with their request to have the 25th Amendment applied, Pence declined.

"I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of the Nation or consistent with our Constitution," Pence wrote on Tuesday. "Last week, I did not yield to 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."

Lawmakers began calling for Trump's ouster from office in the aftermath of the Capitol riots, in which 5 people died.

"Tonight, I am asking Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin the process of removing President Trump from office," tweeted Georgia Democrat Representative Lucy McBath on Wednesday.

"The eyes of the world are upon us," McBath continued, "and the President's incitement of violence, his inducement of chaos, and his inability to faithfully 'discharge the powers and duties of his office' make it clear. The President has refused to protect our democracy and must be removed."

The eyes of the world are upon us, and the President's incitement of violence, his inducement of chaos, and his inability to faithfully "discharge the powers and duties of his office" make it clear.

The President has refused to protect our democracy and must be removed.

— Rep. Lucy McBath (@RepLucyMcBath) January 7, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Tuesday floor speech that Trump's actions "demonstrate his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office."

"Removal of the President is an unprecedented action, but it is required because he is an—because it is an unprecedented moment in history because of the danger he poses," Pelosi added. Newsweek reached out to Pelosi's office for further comment.

Some Republicans expressed criticism that the vote was taking place.

"This is a deeply unpopular impeachment," said Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz during the Tuesday debate. "The public wishes we were here dealing with coronavirus, not the virus of Trump hatred you seem to have found no vaccine for."

At about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) shared to his Twitter that he was sending a letter signed by 17 members of the House Judiciary Committee, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to Pence, urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment.

"Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides the Vice President and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries with the authority to determine a president as unfit if he 'is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.' Even in his video announcement this afternoon, President Trump revealed that he is not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election. President Trump's willingness to incite violence and social unrest to overturn the election results by force clearly meet this standard. So too are his recent Tweets, which Twitter has since deleted, saying the election was 'stolen' and that today's riots 'are the things and events that happen,'" the letter reads in part.

According to the 25th Amendment, if the Vice President indicates to the Senate that the president is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office of the Acting President."

mike pence 25th amendment
Vice President Mike Pence could become the acting U.S. President if he decides to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty

No U.S. president has been removed from power by the invocation of the 25th Amendment. If Trump is impelled to abandon the presidency by the 25th Amendment, Pence is expected to take Trump's place in office until Biden is sworn in as President on January 20.

Trump had hoped that Pence would use his authority as the President of the Senate to decertify the electoral votes from states where voter fraud had been alleged. In a Wednesday letter to colleagues, Pence said he did not have the Constitutional authority to follow Trump's wishes.

"It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should note," Pence wrote in a Wednesday letter.

In a 2019 interview, Pence disregarded reports that members of Trump's cabinet had considered attempting to invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump in 2017.

"I've never heard any discussion of the 25th Amendment by any members of this government," Pence told NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, "and I would never expect to."

During his Wednesday speech, Trump encouraged his supporters to "walk down Pennsylvania Avenue" in order to give the Republican lawmakers that were expected to present objections to the electoral vote tally "the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country."

When the riots turned violent, Trump posted a since-removed video on social media calling for the supporters to "go home" while not specifically condemning the actions of the mob.

In a post deleted by social media platforms, Trump described the riots as "the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long."

House Democrats are expected to take up articles of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday citing his incitement of "violence against the Government of the United States." Trump described the impeachment attempt as "absolutely ridiculous" while speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

In a Friday statement, the White House said that a "politically motivated" impeachment against Trump "will only serve to further divide our great country."