Removing Trump priority for NY Democrats in Congress

Senator Chuck Schumer on his way to ratify the election
Senator Chuck Schumer on his way to ratify the election
Win McNamee/UPI/Shutterstock
Senator Chuck Schumer on his way to ratify the election on January 6.

Removing Trump priority for NY Democrats in Congress

Here’s one thing Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez agree about.
January 7, 2021

Every Democrat in New York’s congressional delegation has come out in support of removing President Donald Trump from office, after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday at his urging, in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Trump’s loss in the Electoral College. And several have gone further and called for expelling the members of the House of Representatives who have supported Trump’s election-theft schemes. 

Among those calling for Trump’s removal is Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, who called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment to oust 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 cabinet do not choose to do it, Schumer recommended Congress reconvene to impeach Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California soon after voiced support for removing the president from office as well. 

Some New York representatives have joined in introducing and co-sponsoring a resolution to impeach Trump, including Reps. Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velazquez. On Thursday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, called for Trump to be “impeached, convicted and removed from office immediately” today after hinting at the possibility the day before. “The reason yesterday occurred is because Trump thought he could get away with murder,” Jones, a freshman who represents Westchester and Rockland County, told City & State. 

Sean Patrick Maloney, a comparatively moderate member of Congress from the Hudson Valley, told City & State said “all options are on the table” when it comes to considering impeachment, invoking the 25th Amendment or censuring the president, as long as it ensures the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20. “I'm willing to support impeachment to hold him accountable if that's what it takes. But I want to understand why that is going to protect our country.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand similarly said in a statement: “Every option available – from invoking the 25th Amendment to impeachment and removal to criminal prosecution – should be on the table.”

No matter how many Democrats endorse using the 25th Amendment, that process depends on the cooperation of a majority of Trump’s own cabinet. To remove Trump via impeachment would require 18 Republican senators to vote to convict the president of “high crimes and misdemeanors” to attain the two-thirds majority required in the upper chamber. And Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to defect during the impeachment proceedings last year, has been reticent to back similar efforts being proposed by Democrats now, saying there’s too little time to begin impeachment proceedings before Trump exits office. 

At least three New York Democrats – Ocasio-Cortez, Jones and Velazquez – have also supported a resolution to be introduced by Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, which would expel from the House Republicans who supported Trump’s attempts to overturn the presidential election results. Expulsion from either house in Congress requires a two-thirds majority vote, which is usually reserved for criminal behavior or disloyalty to the country. Though there is no evidence of widespread election fraud, 121 Republicans in the House objected to certifying Arizona’s election results, including four Republican representatives from New York: Elise Stefanik, Nicole Malliotakis, Chris Jacobs and Lee Zeldin.

Both Jones and fellow freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres, from the Bronx, told City & State that investigations should take place to examine whether any Congress members helped fuel the riots. “It depends on the findings of an investigation, but if a member of Congress is found to have instigated a violent mob, then expulsion is an appropriate response,” Torres said. Upstate Rep. Brian Higgins also agreed investigations and possibly expulsion could be a necessary step. “I think that members may have been complicit in this.”

Maloney disagreed that the Republicans’ conduct rose to that level. “Look, they’ve got a constitutional right to be dumb,” he said.

Also at the top of Democrats’ minds is investigating the security failures that led to terrorists bursting into the Capitol in the first place. “We did not have enough police protection to keep terrorists from entering the Capitol of the United States,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who hails from Manhattan and chairs the House Oversight Committee, told City & State. She and four other House committee leaders – including Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, also from Manhattan – requested an immediate briefing on the steps the Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking to investigate the rioters and “those who incited and conspired with them.”

“Why weren’t they involved earlier in trying to stop the violence and how did it get so out of hand?” she said. “We want to understand the involvement of the National Guard. Why did they come in so late?”

The security stakes are high for members of Congress, who had to don gas masks yesterday after tear gas was dispersed in the rotunda of the Capitol and stayed in a secure location to avoid the chaos that led to four deaths.

“As a member of Congress, I feel less safe today than I did the day before,” Torres said.

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Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at City & State.
20210119