WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence is ruling out invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from power, less than a week after the president fomented the violent insurrection at the Capitol.
In a letter late Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence said the mechanism should not be used "as a means of punishment or usurpation" and reserved for cases of medical or mental incapacitation.
Pelosi has called on Pence to secure the majority of the Cabinet and vote to declare Trump unfit to serve.
As the House appears on the cusp of a bipartisan impeachment of Trump, Pence encouraged Congress to avoid actions to "further divide and inflame the passions of the moment" and to focus on smoothing the transition to President-elect Joe Biden's administration.
Pelosi has said if Pence rejects use of the 25th Amendment, the House will move to impeach him. Already, at least three Republicans have said they would vote for that.
"The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack," said House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming in a statement. "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."
Reps. John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran, said they, too, would vote to impeach.
As lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they were also bracing for more violence ahead of Biden's inauguration, Jan. 20.
"All of us have to do some soul searching," said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, imploring other Republicans to join.
Trump, meanwhile, warned the lawmakers off impeachment and suggested it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.
"To continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country, and it's causing tremendous anger," Trump said.
In his first remarks to reporters since last week's violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying, "I want no violence."