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Roving Periscope: US House urges VP Pence to remove his boss, Trump

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi:  Barely a week before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the US House of Representatives, in a last-ditch effort to tame the outgoing President, urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment and remove his boss, the outgoing President Donald Trump, from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had, last week, said the House will impeach Trump if Pence did not remove him.

However, Biden is reported to disfavor the move so that Trump retires from the White House peacefully.

The Democratic-controlled Lower House, which plans to impeach Trump at the earliest, over the unprecedented Capitol Hill attack last Wednesday, also passed a resolution urging Pence, who has stood by Trump for all of his four-year-term, to sack his boss.

The resolution was voted by 223 to 205 votes on Tuesday night. The voting was mostly on party lines, with one Republican voting in favor of the resolution and another five abstaining. The resolution calls upon Pence to mobilize the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to remove the 45th President from office before his term expires next week, media reported.

The 25th Amendment adopted more than 50 years ago in the wake of President John F Kennedy’s assassination, envisaged a mechanism for the succession of the President for his or her replacement in the event he or she proves unfit to serve. It says the Vice President and a majority of either the Cabinet or some other body designated by Congress may remove the President from office.

The vote came after Pence, a Republican, wrote to Pelosi that he would not invoke the 25h Amendment. “Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent”, Pence said in a letter to Pelosi, a Democrat.

She had also tried to get the Pentagon in the loop as Trump’s carry the nuclear codes in a briefcase wherever he goes.

On the House floor, Pelosi said on January 6 that Trump had incited a deadly insurrection against America that targeted the very heart of its democracy, the US Capitol.

“Defiling the genius of the Constitution, separate but equal, attacking the first branch of government, trying to prevent the US from ascertaining the constitutional duty to ascertain that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President of the United States.

The gleeful desecration of the Capitol and violence against Congress, our staff, and our workers are horrors that will forever stain our nation’s history. Five Americans have died following the violent attack. More than 50 police officers were seriously injured, including fifteen officers who were hospitalized, Pelosi said.

She said the “facts are very clear” that the President called for the seditious attack.

“For days, he urged supporters to come to Washington for the insurrection. Wednesday (Jan 6) morning he participated in a rally to encourage the rioters to march on the Capitol and fight. And, not only did he urge people to march on the Capitol and fight, he further fanned the flames and he and his family cheered and celebrated the desecration of the Capitol, Pelosi said.

As the dangers escalated, he ignored and flat out rejected the pleas of Congress, including those of his own party, to call off his supporters the rioters, the terrorists as they engaged in vandalism and violence. Later that day and, now, the President is saying that he is not responsible and that his incitement to violence was totally appropriate, she said, according to media reports.

But Trump remained defiant.

Referring to the impeachment proceedings against him, the President, in a public speech on Tuesday in a Texas border town, said free speech is under assault in the US like never before.

“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division…which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time,” he said.

Pelosi said Trump’s actions demonstrate his absolute inability to discharge the most basic and fundamental powers and duties of his office.

“Therefore, the President must be removed from office immediately. This is a decision we make with the utmost solemnity and prayerfulness, which this crisis requires. Removal of the President is an unprecedented action, but it is required because it is an unprecedented moment in history because of the danger he poses,” she said.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider an article of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday, thus opening the possibility of Trump becoming the only president in US history to be impeached twice.

The articles of impeachment charge Trump with a count of ‘incitement of insurrection’ for his actions on January 6, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to lay siege to the Capitol, an action that temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes and resulted in the deaths of five individuals, including a police officer.

Earlier, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler released a majority staff report for the impeachment of Trump. The 50-page report made a strong case to impeach the Republican president.

Trump has “falsely” asserted that he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed repeatedly, he continued a parallel course of conduct that “foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress”, the report said.

The facts establish that he is unfit to remain in office a single day longer and warrant the immediate impeachment of President Trump, it said.

The House on December 18, 2019, had approved the articles of impeachment against Trump, charging him of pressuring Ukraine to smear Biden, using nearly USD 400 million in military aid as leverage. However, the Republican-controlled Senate, in February 2020, acquitted him of the two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

 

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