In a letter to her Democrat colleagues about “Next Steps in Protecting Our Democracy,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced new actions to remove President Donald Trump from office.
The letter was released on Sunday, January 10, just four days after Pelosi called for healing for our country and prayed the song of St. Francis in the House chamber, “Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may I bring light. Where there is hatred, let us bring love. Where there is despair, let us bring hope.”
The missive comes just ten days before Trump’s term would end, and it follows a tumultuous week at the Capitol, when protestors breached security and entered the building as Congress was meeting to certify election results.
Pelosi’s letter said that she will proceed on January 11 with a house resolution from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. The resolution calls on Vice President Mike Pence, “to convene and mobilize the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the President incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting President.”
As Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst and writer for The Daily Citizen recently reported, Pence had refused to take a call from Pelosi last week when she wanted to urge him to initiate a removal of Trump through the 25th Amendment. Hausknecht explained:
“The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, covers several succession issues that the Constitution doesn’t address. One of those issues, covered in Section 4 of the amendment, involves the inability of a president to perform his or her duties. This section has not been used or tested in the courts since its ratification, but it sets forth a complicated process whereby the vice president and a majority of the ‘principals of the executive departments’ – presumably meaning the president’s cabinet secretaries –send a letter to Congress declaring the president unfit.
The president can contest the letter, which then sets off further processes. All of which takes time.”
Pelosi wrote that Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., would “request Unanimous Consent to bring up the Raskin resolution.” Pelosi continued, “If we do not receive Unanimous Consent, this legislation is planned to be brought up on the Floor the following day. We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours.”
This is the third time Raskin has proposed such a resolution. In 2017, he brought a resolution to establish in Congress an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity to determine whether the President is mentally or physically unable to discharge the powers and duties of office.”
He and Pelosi brought forward a similar resolution in October 2020, just weeks before the election. In a press release, Raskin said, “The 25th Amendment was adopted 50 years ago, but Congress has never set up the body it calls for to determine presidential fitness in the event of physical or psychological incapacity. Now is the time to do it.” The bill had 42 Democrat co-sponsors.
If efforts to remove President Trump through the 25th amendment are unsuccessful, Pelosi wrote, “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”
She told colleagues, “In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both. As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this President is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Representative Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted on January 6 that she is already drafting articles of impeachment against the president.
In addition to discussing the 25th Amendment and impeachment, Pelosi also brought up Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That section, which was designed to keep Confederate officials from serving in the government after the Civil War, says that no one can hold office in the United States who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Pelosi’s letter did not explain how President Trump had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or was “an imminent threat” to “our Constitution and our Democracy.”
Photo from Sipa USA/REUTERS