US House of Representatives passes 25th Amendment bill to remove Donald Trump

The move is a powerful rebuke to the president, but is symbolic owing to resistance from Vice President Mike Pence

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A resolution urging US Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office has passed in the House of Representatives.

The vote is largely symbolic, because Mr Pence has resisted pressure to remove Mr Trump. On Tuesday, Mr Pence sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter stating he did not support invoking the amendment.

"I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our constitution," he told Ms Pelosi.

The letter was sent to Ms Pelosi just as the House of Representatives gathered on Tuesday night to discuss the bill.

The resolution presented reasoning for Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, a constitutional action that would begin the process of removing the president from office.

It was formulated after Mr Trump spoke at a rally last Wednesday where he repeated unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud while members of Congress gathered to certify the result of the 2020 presidential election.

"We’re going to have to fight much harder," Mr Trump told the rally, right before hundreds of his supporters marched to the Capitol and engaged in a riot. Five people died, including a police officer.

The resolution read, the “House of Representatives calls upon Vice President Michael R Pence to immediately use his powers under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to convene and mobilise the principal officers of the executive departments in the Cabinet to declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

The resolution would require Mr Pence to respond to congressional leaders about his decision on putting the 25th Amendment into effect.

"Every American was shocked and saddened by the attack on our nation's Capitol last week, and I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people's business on the very same day," he wrote to Ms Pelosi on Tuesday night.

"It was a moment that demonstrated to the American people the unity that is still possible in Congress when it is needed most."

In his letter, Mr Pence wrote that efforts would be better spent on conducting a transfer of power to the new administration under president-elect Joe Biden.

"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," he said.

Mr Trump responded to the development of the resolution earlier on Tuesday on a trip to the US-Mexico wall in Texas.

"The 25th Amendment is of no risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for," he said.

The House is also putting an article of impeachment on the floor on Wednesday. Ms Pelosi supported the dual actions to place as much pressure as possible on holding Mr Trump accountable for the violence at the Capitol.

The article of impeachment charged Mr Trump with “incitement of insurrection”.

If passed, Mr Trump would become the first president to be impeached twice.

His statements at the rally on Wednesday are viewed as incitement and encouragement of the violence that took place at the Capitol.

Speaking outside the White House, Mr Trump told the rally: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Politicians referred to an article within the 14th Amendment that states anyone, including the president, "engaging in insurrection or rebellion against’’ the US will not be allowed to ‘‘hold any office".

Mr Pence's letter to Ms Pelosi did not mention his stance on impeachment.

Expectations are that the impeachment article will be debated by the House sometime on Wednesday. It is unclear when Ms Pelosi will send the bill to the Senate if it passes.

Mr Biden will be sworn in as president on January 20 with heightened security owing to FBI reports of potential protests or plans for violence in Washington, DC, and across the country in the weeks to come.

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