U.S. President Donald Trump stands in the colonnade as he is introduced to speak to March for Life participants and pro-life leaders in the Rose Garden at the White House on January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Congressman Jim Cooper predicted Monday the U.S. House will seek to remove President Donald Trump this week for inciting insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, either by invoking the 25th Amendment or impeaching the commander in chief as he leaves office.
Cooper, a Nashville Democrat, was set to return to Washington, D.C., Monday where he said the House will hold a vote Tuesday on a 25th Amendment resolution, which could remove the president from office for being unfit for office.
Using a procedure requiring unanimous consent, Republicans objected Monday to asking Vice President Mike Pence to start the process within the president’s cabinet. Typically, the 25th Amendment would be used in case the president suffered a medical crisis such as a stroke or coma, but it could be adopted for this situation when many people fear Trump is unfit for office, according to Cooper.
“I’ve been disappointed a number of cabinet members have already quit, basically saying they didn’t want to vote on the 25th Amendment applying to Trump,” he said.
The bigger vote will come Wednesday when the House is slated to vote on second impeachment of the president, Cooper said, predicting it will pass the Democratic-controlled chamber and go to the Senate for a trial. The impeachment resolution, which was drafted Monday, also urges Pence to start the 25th Amendment process.
“It’s really a shocking situation in which we see presidential level incitement,” he said.
Cooper said members of Congress also played a role in spurring the attack, including Congressman Mo Brooks from Huntsville, Alabama, who joined President Trump in urging protesters to go to the Capitol to take names and kick “ass.”
House Democrats sought a resolution Monday to censure Brooks. Other lawmakers participated in the insurrection by trying to deny Biden was the president-elect, he said, undermining the election process.
Capitol Police sent alerts to federal lawmakers to shelter in place that day as the mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol. Two police officers were killed, one woman was shot to death and three others died from health problems during the melee.
“It was more like barricade the doors. It was keep silent lest you draw any attention from any of the people roaming the hallways, so we quickly locked the doors and barricaded ourselves into offices. Most everybody did on Capitol Hill,” Cooper said as he described the incident in a Monday call with reporters.
The House and Senate were taking up passage of the Electoral College when the mob attacked the Capitol in an effort to stop the transition of power to a new president. Cooper pointed out Jan. 6 is designated in the U.S. Constitution as the day for approving Electoral College results, making it a time when the nation is vulnerable.
Cooper is likely to be joined by Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen in invoking the 25th Amendment and voting to impeach Trump a second time. The president was impeached earlier in his term for trying to shake down the leader of Ukraine for political purposes, but the Republican-controlled Senate refused to convict him, and getting a vote from the chamber will be difficult again.
Under the leadership of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate is unlikely to take up either the 25th Amendment resolution or impeachment. But once Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer assumes control as Senate Majority Leader, an impeachment trial could take place.
The question is whether impeachment is useful once the president is already gone, Cooper said, except to ensure Trump is unable to run for the presidency again. Cooper did predict an investigation would be conducted into the attack on the Capitol to determine how it took place.
Cooper and Cohen could be the only Tennessee members of Congress to vote for impeachment and use of the 25th Amendment. All other House delegation members are Republicans who voted to oppose approval of the Electoral College results last week, despite the attack on the Capitol last week. Rep. David Kustoff, District 8, voted to approve Electoral College votes from one state but opposed votes from another.
Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee voted to ratify the Electoral College votes after saying for weeks they would seek an investigation of the presidential election in five battleground states. Neither one has discussed publicly the reason for their change of heart.
Tennessee knows about removing its chief executive from office early, Cooper said, pointing toward Jan. 17, 1979 when then-House Speaker Ned Ray McWherter worked with the incoming Lamar Alexander administration to oust Ray Blanton three days early for his role in a cash-for-clemency scandal. Officials found out he allowed a convicted murderer out of prison and were afraid he would let James Earl Ray out as well.
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