Bay Area members of Congress who had to flee from the House chambers Wednesday as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., are among those calling for Vice President Mike Pence to gather Trump's cabinet in order to invoke the 25th Amendment and deem the president unfit for the office.
Trump gave a speech earlier Wednesday, falsely claiming he won the election and calling for his supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress was holding hearings on the certification of the Electoral College vote following November's election of former Vice President Joe Biden as president over Trump.
During the insurrection, one woman died in a shooting by police inside the Capitol building and three other people died in the area around the Capitol grounds as a result of unspecified medical emergencies, according to local police. At least 52 people were arrested, and videos went viral on social media of people ransacking congressional offices, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, both called for the invoking of the 25th Amendment, which states that the vice president "and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments" can write to Congress to say the president "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
The vice president, in that event, would assume the powers of the presidency, but the president could also write to Congress that no inability exists, and would then resume the powers. The decision would ultimately go to Congress to decide, with two-thirds votes needed in both the Senate and House to remove the president.
Speier wrote on Twitter, "Trump has given us no choice. The 25th Amendment must be invoked NOW. We need to immediately wrest control of the country from him. He is not the commander (in) chief of the US. He is commander (in) chief of the Trump mob & proud boys. @VP Pence must step up & defend our democracy."
Thompson, also calling for invoking the 25th Amendment, wrote, "On this dark day for our nation, we need to stand up and end this immediately. Nothing less than the future of our democracy is at stake."
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and other members of Congress have joined that call, but a local politics professor said such an action is unlikely at this point.
Jeremiah Garretson, associate professor of political science specializing in political psychology and media at California State University East Bay, said given that the president's cabinet is stacked with loyalists who are unlikely to vote to remove him and that enough Republican members of Congress also support the president, the 25th Amendment seems like a long shot to remove Trump ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden.
Garretson said he unfortunately wasn't surprised by the storming of the Capitol given that the president's rhetoric about election fraud -- which earned Trump temporary suspensions Wednesday on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- has been spread widely on right-wing media and was preceded last year by similar actions at statehouses, including in Michigan over COVID-19 protective measures.
"It just took a few nudges with these people believing that they are trying to restore democracy to get them to act in a way that is completely contrary to democracy itself," Garretson said.