A call for action

Officials seek Trump’s removal after Capitol events

AP Photo Police in riot gear walk out of the Capitol on Wednesday in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud.

New York’s statewide elected leaders did not mince words about what they think President Donald Trump’s punishment should be in the wake of Wednesday’s actions at the United States Capitol — removal from office.

U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, each made clear their opinion on the president’s remaining days in office Thursday one day after violent mob, loyal to the sitting president, stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding, in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House.

In a statement issued to the media, Schumer, the state’s senior senator who is poised to become Senate Majority Leader after respective victories by Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff on Tuesday, called Wednesday’s events at the Capitol “an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.”

“This president should not hold office one day longer,” said Schumer, who has served as the Democratic leader since 2017 and has represented the state since 1999. “The quickest and most effective way –it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment.”

Should the Cabinet not choose to invoke the removal measure, Schumer said that “Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”

According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, The 25th Amendment, was proposed by Congress and ratified by the states in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and “provides the procedures for replacing the president or vice president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation.”

Section 4 of the amendment, which has been highly cited by lawmakers in the aftermath of a pro-Trump attack on the nation’s capital, gives the Vice President and “a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress” the authority to declare that the president is unable to do his job. If they agree the president is unfit, the vice president would take over. But Congress has never set up the body.

Gillibrand did not limit her suggestion of punishment to solely removal from office.

“Every option from the 25th Amendment to impeachment, from removal to criminal prosecution should be on the table,” she told reporters in a press conference held via Zoom on Thursday afternoon.

“These options will require the vice president, Cabinet members and Republican members of the Senate to hold the president accountable in a way they never have before,” she added. “When they fail to do so, history will rightfully judge them as complicit.”

That includes Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, who represents the 23rd district in Congress. Reed, during a meeting with reporters said that removal prior to Jan. 20 would be divisive and that Trump’s statement — made early Thursday via advisor Dan Scavino — acknowledging that a peaceful transfer of power will occur, suffices for the next 12 days.

“Unfortunately Congressman Reed has been complicit throughout the entire Trump presidency,” Gillibrand said. “Defending the president’s actions in any way is not only misguided, but irresponsible.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also condemned the president’s action during a late afternoon conference call with reporters and called for his removal, saying he believes “a statement should be made.”

“This was a failed coup,” he said. “This was a clear violation of the Constitution.”

A former secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, Cuomo said “If I was a Cabinet member in this administration, just for the history books, I step forward and say ‘The president should be removed.”

“People said President Trump started this yesterday,” Cuomo added. “I disagree. President Trump started this four years ago. When you spread hate, distrust and division, don’t be surprised at the ugliness.”

“History will ask: where were you when the mob moved through the window?” he said. “Were you with the mob or were you with democracy?”

James P. Kennedy, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, released a statement late Thursday that his office has received a “number of leads and tips regarding yesterday’s events at the Capitol.”

“Working with our law enforcement partners, we are actively investigating the information we have obtained,” said Kennedy. “Should we determine that there is a legal nexus between the crimes committed at the Capitol and our jurisdiction, we will not hesitate to charge those responsible.”

Kennedy added, “Violence is never an acceptable means of protest. We are one Nation, and as such, the unity which comes from a shared respect for both the rule of law and one another represents our only hope for lasting solutions to the challenges we face. Escalating hostility and violence diminishes us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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