WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump faced growing calls for his removal and a staff exodus on Thursday, one day after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a harrowing assault on American democracy.
While Trump has just 13 days left in his term, there were numerous demands for his ouster including by the Senate’s top Democrat and a Republican congressman. Congress early on Thursday formally certified Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory despite objections from some Republican lawmakers.
Members of Trump’s Cabinet and allies of the Republican president have discussed invoking a provision of the U.S. Constitution to remove him from office, a source familiar with the situation said.
Meanwhile, a growing number of White House aides said they would quit, including envoy Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff, and top Russia adviser Ryan Tully. More departures were expected soon.
Facebook, a key social media platform for Trump, also said it would ban Trump posts until Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called on Vice President Mike Pence to remove Trump under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows Cabinet members to oust a president who has been incapacitated. At least one Republican and 19 Democrats in the House of Representatives also called for that step.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” Schumer said in a statement. “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
“If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” he added.
The Democratic-led House impeached Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after the president pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden, but the Republican-led Senate in February 2020 voted to keep him in office.
Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked to remove Trump.
“All indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself,” Kinzinger said in a video he posted on Twitter.
A source familiar with the situation said the 25th Amendment effort was unlikely to go anywhere. Most Republicans in Congress have shown little interest in pressuring the Cabinet to act in that fashion.
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said Trump’s Cabinet should be ready to act, as Trump could stir up more trouble in his remaining time in office.
“They better be ready to do that if it continues because you cannot have a president basically leading an insurrection against our own country’s government,” Klobuchar said on CBS.
Trump pledged in an early-morning statement an “orderly transition” ahead of Biden’s inauguration, in part to prevent more staffers from leaving. Yet Trump has continued to repeat the falsehood that the election was stolen from him.
Trump also has not condemned the extraordinary violence that unfolded after he encouraged supporters on Wednesday to march to the Capitol, despite pleas from senior members of his administration.
“I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said.
Wolf’s deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, said on Fox News that new fencing was being installed around the Capitol ahead of Biden’s inauguration.