Congress must reconvene to impeach Donald Trump if Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Trump's cabinet don't "stand up" and take action, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has declared.
In a statement Thursday, Schumer said Trump shouldn't be president for "one day" more, and suggested that the best way to get rid of him would be for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president to be declared unfit for office.
"What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president," Schumer said. "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 stressed.
Schumer's statement follows a tweet late on Wednesday in which he called the Capitol protesters "rioters, insurrectionists, thugs" and "domestic terrorists" who "must be prosecuted to the full extent" of the law.
Those who performed today's reprehensible acts were rioters, insurrectionists, thugs, domestic terrorists— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 7, 2021
They don't represent America
They were violent extremists who tried to take over the Capitol
They must be prosecuted to the full extent
But tonight Democracy will triumph
Later Thursday, Schumer told Politico that he would fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger later this month when Democrats take control of the chamber if he doesn't leave voluntarily first. "If Senate-at-Arms Stenger hasn't vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate," the presumptive Senate majority leader said.
Stenger was appointed by outgoing Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2018. The Sergeant-at-Arms is tasked with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings.
Trump is set to leave office less than two weeks from now, which would make any attempt to remove him tricky. The 25th Amendment provides a legal mechanism by which a new president is designated in the event that the sitting head of state is incapacitated or dead, and specifies that the vice president is first in line to take up the post. However, the amendment is open to interpretation, because while it allows the vice president and the cabinet to remove the president should he/she be in a coma or suffer a stroke, it does not offer a clear characterisation of what qualifies as an inability to serve.
This isn't the first time that Democratic lawmakers have sought to invoke the 25th Amendment against Trump, having done so in mid-2017 after expressing doubts about the president's mental state.
As for impeachment, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives did already successfully impeach Trump in late 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but the president was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate in February 2020. Under the Constitution, a two-thirds majority of the Senate would be needed to convict the president, with possible penalties including removal from office and being barred from holding office in the future.
Talk of Trump's removal comes after Wednesday's events in Washington, DC, which saw Trump loyalists in the capital to support the president in a "stop the steal" rally before they marched on Congress and stormed the Capitol building. The attempted act of insurrection led to the deaths of four protesters, multiple injuries, and dozens of arrests.
Democrats have since characterised the violence as a "coup attempt," while supporters of the president claimed that it was Democrats who carried out an electoral "coup" by rigging the election against Trump in November.