There are discussions among government leaders to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would remove President Donald Trump from office and allow Mike Pence to finish Trump’s term, according to ABC, CBS and CNN.
These reports are in addition to a number of House Democrats also calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked, as well as industry groups.
They come as President Donald Trump faces criticism for his role in Wednesday's violent protest at the U.S. Capitol. At least 4 people died and dozens were injured when pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol while Congress was counting the Electoral College ballots.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the 25th amendment be invoked, and if not, pointed to impeachment.
Some Florida lawmakers echoed the sentiment.
"I think all hands are on deck now. This is not right versus left now, it is bipartisan this is right versus wrong it needs to be done for America," said Rep. Charlie Crist.
Rep. Crist sent a letter to the vice president and cabinet members Thursday.
"I think invoking the 25th amendment and removing President Trump from office is important for the safety and security of American people. That’s why it needs to be done. He’s unstable, he’s unfit, that’s crystal clear. And so that’s why it needs to be done," he said.
The National Association of Manufacturers released a statement Wednesday afternoon calling on Pence and others to consider the 25th Amendment.
"The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy," their statement reads.
The process is completely different than the impeachment process but ultimately would result in the removal of the president.
What is the purpose of the 25th amendment:
The 25th amendment was ratified in 1965 following the death of John F. Kennedy. The amendment formalized that the vice president would fully become the president if the president is unable to serve.
The amendment codified a process to replace a vice president who resigns, dies or becomes president. A third section of the amendment allows the president to temporarily transfer power to the vice president, like during a medical procedure.
It also spells out that the cabinet and the vice president can remove the president, with the approval of Congress.
“It would be a first right there," said Brendan Beery, Professor of Constitutional Law at WMU-Cooley's Tampa Campus. "So far the 25th amendment has never been used for involuntary removal of the President. It would be huge.”
The process for removing a sitting president:
The amendment reads, “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
“Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
No matter the process, Pence would have to agree to the process. However, reports say that Pence has not been consulted on calls to invoke the 25th amendment.
It would also require a sizable number of Republican lawmakers to agree to the plan.
Some lawmakers pointed to impeachment if not the 25th amendment.
Constitutional law professors noted the different outcome impeachment could have.
"If the impeachment process is started and a super majority of the Senate agrees that there is a problem then the impeachment could happen after Trump has left office but one of the penalties of the impeachment could be that he is not allowed to hold public office ever again," said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson University College of Law.
How likely is it?
Given that Trump only has 13 days left in office, it would appear the likelihood is slim, but CNN reports that four unnamed members of the cabinet are calling for the 25th amendment to be invoked. It would take eight of the 15 secretaries to agree to invoke the 25th amendment. The process would then play out in Congress.
“I see all of that is unlikely, but you never know, 24 hours from now I might I might be proven wrong," said Beery.
Dr. Susan MacManus, our ABC Action News Analyst calls it a long shot.
“I don’t foresee the VP going in that direction with such a short amount of time left in the president’s term," she said.
Not all lawmakers echoed the calls for removal though.
Florida Congressman Byron Donalds released the following statement:
“Calls by Congress members to invoke the 25th Amendment are incredibly irresponsible and ring hollow, considering many of these same members have been calling for this since the President was elected. I did not support those baseless provocations then, and I do not now. The actions of the unruly mob took away from millions of Americans' real concerns regarding the election's integrity, but I refuse to bend to the mob or political pressure by evading my convictions. The Congress has certified the Electoral College vote. It's time to acknowledge the reality that President-elect Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States and there will be an orderly transition of power on January 20th not before.”
Trump has pitted the White House against each other on Wednesday, as Trump decried Pence for refusing to intervene during Wednesday’s count of the Electoral College votes.