Vice President Mike Pence has rejected calls from House Democrats to remove President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Pence said that invoking the amendment “would set a terrible precedent.” The decision by Pence not to invoke the amendment paves the way for the House to vote to impeach Trump.
Pence acknowledged that he was grateful for lawmakers’ decision to forge ahead and reconvene Congress last Wednesday in order to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win after the violence but said he does not support lawmakers’ push to have him invoke the 25th Amendment, noting there are only eight days left of Trump’s presidency.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he said. “Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.”
Pence pointed out that the amendment was designed to address a president that is incapacitated or suffering a disability and quoted Pelosi as saying the “president’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts” and that a judgment on invoking it should not be made “on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like.”
“Madam Speaker, you were right,” Pence wrote. “Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation.”
“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment,” he said. “Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. I pledge to you that I will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God.”
The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, permits a majority vote from members of the Cabinet, or another congressionally designated body, to allow the vice president to assume the powers of the presidency if the president is considered unfit for service.
The announcement from Pence likely means that Trump will face an impeachment vote in the House. New York Rep. John Katko became the first GOP member to support impeachment and was followed by Rep. Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chairwoman and third-ranking Republican in the House. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has also said he was on board with impeachment.
The push for impeachment comes after last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by rioters, which followed a pro-Trump rally, resulting in the deaths of several people. The Justice Department has opened more than 170 case files so far related to the violent incursion.