Indian Country Today
Lawmakers of both parties raised the prospect Thursday of removing President Donald Trump from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if he wasn’t removed, the House may move forward with a second impeachment.
Joining the removal calls are two Indigenous members of Congress: Democratic Reps. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, of Kansas and Kai Kahele, Kanaka Maoli, of Hawaii.
Though Trump has less than two weeks left in office, lawmakers and even some in his administration began discussing the issue Wednesday afternoon after Trump first refused to forcefully condemn the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters, and then appeared to excuse it.
“We will have a new President on January 20, but we cannot trust Donald Trump to uphold his oath of office over the next 14 days,” Davids said in a statement. “Our democracy, safety, and security is at stake.”
Davids acknowledged the time constraints of an impeachment process and further urged the president’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment.
The amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to declare a president unfit for office. The vice president then becomes acting president. The section of the amendment specifically addressing this procedure has never been invoked.
According to two people involved in the administration talks, staff-level discussions on the matter took place across multiple departments and even parts of the White House.
No member of the Cabinet has publicly expressed support for the move — which would make Pence the acting president — though several were believed to be sympathetic to the notion, believing Trump is too volatile in his waning days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Under the 25th Amendment, Trump could dispute his Cabinet’s finding, but the Cabinet could quickly reaffirm its position, keeping Pence in power while the question fell to lawmakers.
(Related: Q&A: Transfer of power under 25th Amendment)
Kahele, who was sworn into Congress on Sunday, said he would sign onto articles of impeachment if the 25th amendment is not invoked.
“He [Trump] is a national disgrace & does not deserve to serve another day in office,” Kahele tweeted. “Censure is not enough, he must be removed from office.”
Congress’ one other Indigenous Democrat, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
Republican Indigenous congressional members are taking a different approach. They condemned the violence at the Capitol but continued to back the president.
(Related: Indigenous Congress members condemn violence)
All three Republican Indigenous representatives objected to certifying the Electoral College vote. They are Reps. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, of Oklahoma, Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, of Oklahoma and Yvette Herrell, Cherokee, of New Mexico.
Early Thursday, Herrell gave her first speech on the House floor after being sworn in on Sunday.
“This objection is about Pennsylvania, but it affects every state,” Herrell said. “As a representative of New Mexico, Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional actions disenfranchised my constituents and the constituents of my colleagues.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Thursday for the Cabinet to remove Trump.
In a statement, Schumer said the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.” He said Trump “should not hold office one day longer.”
As Pelosi suggested impeachment was a possibility, three Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee announced articles of impeachment.
Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California wrote in the articles that Trump “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”
In 2019, Trump was the third president in history to be impeached by the House. Democrats had moved to impeach him based on allegations he abused his power by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival. The articles of impeachment also accused Trump of obstructing Congress’ oversight.
However, Democrats failed in their bid for a bipartisan action — no Republicans in Congress broke with the president.
Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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