WASHINGTON – Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called President Donald Trump “unfit” and “unwell” a day after pro-Trump rioters rampaged through the Capitol, disrupting a rare joint session of Congress and sending lawmakers scrambling for cover.
In a two-minute video posted to social media, the Illinois lawmaker, who has frequently criticized Trump in recent weeks, came out in favor of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
Wednesday’s insurrection led to the deaths of four people and more than 50 arrests.
Kinzinger’s comments came amid other talk of potentially invoking the 25th Amendment.
Several media outlets, including the Washington Post, NBC and CBS, have reported that informal and preliminary conversations have been taking place among senior officials. The reports cite sources familiar with the conversations who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Washington Post said that, according to one person involved in the conversations, there are fears that Trump could take further actions that might result in violence if he remains in office. Trump’s term ends in 13 days when President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated.
Under the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could declare the president unable to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.” If the president disputes that determination, two-thirds of both the House and the Senate must vote in favor of keeping Pence in charge as acting president.
In addition, lawmakers can designate through legislation an alternative group – other than the Cabinet – that the vice president could work with to declare a president unable to serve.
The Post described the conversations as preliminary and informal.
NBC News filed a similar report, saying it’s unclear whether Cabinet-level officials themselves have discussed the matter. Two sources told NBC the issue hasn’t been broached with Pence.
NBC said the conversations have been fueled in part by concerns of unrest and insurrection. But a source also told the network it was unclear whether it would be legally possible to invoke the 25th Amendment in so short a time.
On CNN, former national security adviser John Bolton warned such an effort could make matters worse.
“We ought to bear in mind the adage ‘do no harm,’ because you can make this worse if we’re not careful,” Bolton said.
CNN, however, quoted a former senior official it did not name saying said Trump’s actions were egregious enough to remove him quickly.
“I think this has been a huge shock to the system,” said the former official. “How do you keep him in place for two weeks after this?”
For weeks, Trump had urged his supporters to come to Washington for the rally on Wednesday, the day Congress met to certify the results of the Electoral College. As the protest turned ugly, Trump took to Twitter urging the crowd to go home. But he also described the mob as “great patriots” who were reacting to an election victory “viciously stripped away.”
The amendment, ratified in 1967, allows for replacing the president when he or she is disabled or dead. It also formalized a system for the vice president to permanently take over if the president dies or resigns. It also gives the president and Congress shared power to replace the vice president.
Outside the administration, the idea has drawn a lot of support. The head of the National Association of Manufacturers said Trump incited the violence in an attempt to retain power and Pence should consider triggering the amendment to preserve democracy.
“This is sedition and should be treated as such,” said Jay Timmons, the group’s president and CEO.
The head of the left-leaning advocacy group Public Citizen, the head of the NAACP and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, all have made similar statements.
And some congressional Democrats, laying the blame at Trump’s feet for inciting the riot, called for his removal from office or impeachment for a second time.
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., the fourth-ranking House Democrat, seemed to endorse invoking the 25th Amendment in a Wednesday night statement saying Trump needed to be removed from office.
Some centrist Democrats called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked too. Rep. Susan DelBene, D-Wash., the chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, said Wednesday the 25th Amendment needed to be invoked “for the good of the country.”
And on MSNBC, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a close ally to President-elect Joe Biden, said “This is a fire that he first lit in Charlottesville, and that has only been building in intensity in the last few years, and will only be solved by the removal of President Trump.”
Contributing: Maureen Groppe