Democratic leaders have called for Donald Trump to be removed from office after a group of his supporters violently stormed the Capitol.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi directly accused President Donald Trump of inciting “armed insurrection” against the United States.
“This president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation,” Speaker Pelosi told a news conference at the US Capitol on Thursday.
Earlier, Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer attempted to reach Vice President Mike Pence by telephone to urge him to replace Trump immediately through the 25th Amendment to the constitution, which allows a vice president to replace a president, if they are unable to perform their duties. Pence would not take their call.
“If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” said Pelosi, who said she had not slept since a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol on Wednesday.
“By inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed from office,” Pelosi said.
US media reported on Thursday that Pence was opposed to invoking the 25th Amendment.
Pelosi is the top Democrat in the House of Representatives which impeached Trump in 2019 on charges of abuse of power for tying US military aid to Ukraine in exchange for fabricating political dirt on Joe Biden.
Now, a growing number of House members have called for Trump to resign and some are circulating new articles of impeachment against him.
“The president must be held accountable again,” she said, adding she expects to hear an answer from Vice President Pence “yes or no” whether he will move to replace Trump.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer joined Pelosi in calling for Trump’s removal.
“We don’t need a lengthy debate,” Schumer said in a news conference in New York.
“The president’s abuse of power, his incitement of a mob against duly elected representative body of the United States is a manifestly impeachable offence – if there ever was an impeachable offence, what the president did was it,” Schumer said.
What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by President Trump.
This president must not hold office one day longer.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 7, 2021
Hundreds of Trump supporters marched on the US Capitol building yesterday after attending a rally with Trump near the White House in which he promised to “never concede” an election that he claims, without evidence, was stolen.
While members of Congress were meeting in special session to ratify Joe Biden’s election as US president, hundreds of Trump supporters pushed their way past police barricades and broke into the Capitol.
Trump had urged them to give a group of Republicans planning to formally object to Biden’s election “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country”.
Arriving at the Capitol in large numbers, Trump’s supporters smashed windows and doors, assaulted police officers, invaded the Senate and surrounded the House chamber where members of Congress barricaded themselves.
A woman was shot and killed by a US Capitol Police officer. Tear gas was deployed inside the historic and stately building where Congress meets.
“We are in a very difficult place in our country as long as Donald Trump still sits in the White House,” Pelosi said.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham discounted the prospect of Pence taking over from Trump with just 13 days left in his presidency.
Instead, Graham said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others close to the president had assured him Trump would facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to Biden.
But Graham also took the opportunity in front of television cameras in the Senate media gallery to send a message directly to Trump.
“The president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution. That the rally yesterday was unseemly,” Graham said.
“It got out of hand, and a good friend of mine, Rudy Giuliani did not help,” he said, blaming the former New York City mayor who leads the president’s legal team for giving Trump bad advice.
“The next two weeks can begin to right the ship depending on how the president behaves,” Graham said, urging Trump to focus now on his accomplishments in office.