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Schumer calls for Trump's removal: 'This president should not hold office one day longer'

Jon Campbell
New York State Team

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the soon-to-be Senate majority leader from New York, joined the call to immediately remove President Donald Trump from office after a violent mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Schumer, a Democrat, issued a statement Thursday saying Trump should be removed from office under the 25th Amendment, urging Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet members to invoke their never-before-used power to force the president out.

Absent that, Schumer said Congress should reconvene to impeach the president before his term runs out Jan. 20.

Schumer is part of a growing number of Democratic lawmakers in New York and across the nation pushing for the removal of Trump, who has repeatedly made unfounded claims about the 2020 election being "stolen" from him.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.

That includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also pledged support for the removal effort Thursday, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior senator.

Trump incited a group of supporters to march on the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat.

A violent mob of rioters later charged police and breached the Capitol, with the resulting chaos leading to at least 52 arrests and four deaths, including one woman who was shot and killed inside the building by Capitol police.

“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president," Schumer said in his statement. "This president should not hold office one day longer."

More:Chuck Schumer joins chorus of lawmakers calling for Trump's removal through 25th Amendment

More:Timeline: How a Trump mob stormed the US Capitol, forcing Washington into lockdown

25th amendment push comes as Trump's time winds down

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Schumer said the "quickest and most effective way" to remove the president would be for Pence and Trump's Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment.

The amendment allows for a president to be forced from office if he is unfit or unable to discharge their duties. Pence and a majority of Trump's Cabinet would need to sign onto the effort, which would immediately make Pence president.

If Pence and the Cabinet do not act, Schumer said Congress should move to impeach Trump, a Republican who is set to be replaced by Democrat Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

At a news conference Thursday in Washington, Schumer said he an Pelosi called Pence's office earlier in the day in an effort to convince him to support removing Trump.

Schumer said Pence's office put them on hold for 25 minutes before saying Pence wouldn't take the call.

Without Pence's cooperation, Schumer said Congress should immediately reconvene to impeach Trump and disqualify him from running for office again, which the Senate can vote to do following an impeachment trial.

“We don’t need a lengthy debate," Schumer said. "The president’s abuse of power, his incitement of a mob against a duly elected representative body of the United States is a manifestly impeachable offense. If there every was an impeachable offense, what the president did was it.”

Schumer is in line to become Senate majority leader after a pair of wins by Democrats in the Georgia run-off elections earlier this week.

New York Democratic delegation backs removal

During a press conference Thursday, Gillibrand said she supports Trump's removal from office but cast doubt on whether Pence would initiate the 25th Amendment process or, if he's impeached, whether the Senate would convict.

"He should be removed from office for the next two weeks because I think he's dangerous," Gillibrand said.

Much of New York's Democratic congressional delegation has called for Trump's removal from office, including Reps. Mondaire Jones of Rockland County, Paul Tonko of the Albany area, Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn, Joe Morelle of the Rochester area, Adriano Espaillat of Manhattan and Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of the Bronx.

The chaos on the Capitol came during the very first week on the job for Jones and Bowman, both of whom were newly elected last year.

"As a start, we must remove Trump from office immediately," Bowman said in a statement. "Then we must get to work to pursue a mission of truth and reconciliation with our country’s racist and violent past and present."

Jones, Bowman, Ocasio-Cortez, Espaillat and Velazquez are among the Democrats who signed on to an impeachment resolution introduced Thursday in Congress. 

"Hundreds, if not thousands, of Donald Trumps in the Republican Party seek to ascend to higher office, and we must send them a message that no one is above the law," Jones said.

Of New York's seven Republican congressional members, four voted to object to certifying the election results in at least one state late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, even after the violence interrupted their proceedings earlier in the day.

Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, Saratoga County; Chris Jacobs, R-Orchard Park, Erie County; Lee Zeldin, R-Suffolk County; and Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island, all objected to certifying Pennsylvania's results.

Jacobs, Zeldin and Malliotakis also voted to object to Arizona's results; Stefanik did not.

Republican calls Trump's conduct 'reprehensible'

Other New York Republicans voted to certify the Electoral College vote, including Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko, who called Trump's behavior "reprehensible" and said the president encouraged the "unlawful, unpatriotic attack" on the Capitol.

But Katko stopped short of backing the effort to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment, casting doubt on whether it could be carried out in time to force Trump out before his term ends Jan. 20.

"It's kind of a moot conversation because I don't think it would be done in time for this to happen," Katko said Thursday. "Be that as it may, I'm looking very forward to Jan. 20. The president, his conduct was completely reprehensible."

Katko continued: "When Jan. 20 comes, I think America will be happy and I will be happy."

Trump, meanwhile, remained silent Thursday morning in the aftermath of Congress' certification of the vote.

Both Twitter and Facebook had suspended his accounts at least temporarily after he continued to repeat unfounded claims about the election Wednesday, freezing Trump out from his preferred methods of communication.

By the end of Thursday, Trump issued a video acknowledging a new administration would soon take over and conceding for the first time that he would leave office at the end of his term.

After tweeting messages to the rioters that bordered on sympathetic Wednesday, Trump called the attacks "heinous" in his Thursday video and vowed that those who broke the law "will pay."

"My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power," Trump said in the video. "This moment calls for healing and reconciliation."

More:Who voted against certification? Why these GOP lawmakers did even after Capitol riot

More:Timeline: How a Trump mob stormed the US Capitol, forcing Washington into lockdown

Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.

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