Military Officers in Congress Join Call to Invoke 25th Amendment, Remove Trump

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks to the media, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

An Air National Guard lieutenant colonel who serves as a Republican in Congress is calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office after his supporters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a vote to affirm Joe Biden as the next commander in chief.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said top U.S. leaders must ensure that "we have a sane captain of the ship."

He is the sole Republican joining more than 60 Democratic lawmakers who are now calling for Trump's removal.

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"All indications are that the president has become unmoored -- not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself," Kinzinger said in a video message released Thursday morning. "It is for this reason that I call for the vice president and members of the Cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people."

The 25th Amendment says the vice president shall immediately assume powers and duties of acting president should the president be "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Two groups can determine that the 25th Amendment should be invoked: the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, or the vice president and a group established by Congress.

Kinzinger, a pilot in the Air National Guard who has been an outspoken critic of other Republican lawmakers seeking to overturn some states' electoral results, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Thursday that Trump "should not hold office one day longer," calling Wednesday's events an insurrection against the U.S. that was ignited by the president.

"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," Schumer said in a statement. "If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president."

Members of Trump's Cabinet met Wednesday night to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment ahead of Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration, CBS News, Axios and CNN have reported.

Several lawmakers who sit on congressional committees that oversee the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are among those calling for Trump's removal. They include Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and combat veteran and former presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

"Trump is directly responsible for this insurrection and violence. He needs to be removed from office immediately," Moulton, a veteran Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq, wrote Wednesday on Twitter. "It is the Constitutional responsibility of Vice President Pence and the cabinet to exercise the power granted them by the 25th amendment."

Others included California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, who chairs the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, and Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Rep. Mark Takano, another California Democrat.

"Trump's behavior is proof that he is unfit to serve and a threat to our democracy. I'm calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office," Takano tweeted.

Several members of the Senate committees that oversee the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs have also called for action.

Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who sit on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, support invocation of the 25th Amendment in Trump's last two weeks of office. Hirono is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also support the move. Warren has called for removing Trump from office via the Constitution since at least 2018.

Outside of Congress, the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 companies across the country in every industrial sector, also wants to see Trump removed from office. The 25th Amendment should be invoked "to preserve democracy," wrote Jay Timmons, the group's president and CEO.

"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," the National Association of Manufacturers' statement reads. "Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit."

-- Oriana Pawlyk and Richard Sisk contributed to this report.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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