U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke on the floor as the Senate reconvened after a fa…
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called for President Donald Trump to be immediately removed from office Thursday afternoon on the heels of violent protests and attempted insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that left four dead.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” Schumer said in a statement. “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
Schumer, who is slated to become the next Senate majority leader after Democrats won control of the chamber in two Georgia runoff elections Tuesday, called for Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members to immediately take action.
“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,” the senator said. “If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., supports every available avenue to remove Trump from office, she said during a virtual press conference Thursday.
“Every option available — from invoking the 25th Amendment to impeachment and removal to criminal prosecution — should be on the table,” she said. “I will support all of them. 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. If they fail to do so, history will rightfully judge them as complicit.”
Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice must commence a thorough investigation of Wednesday’s events over the next two weeks until President-election Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, Gillibrand said, including why the rioters were not treated as criminals and the involvement of radical white supremacist websites and groups inciting the violence.
Gillibrand expressed doubt that the Republican Senate will hold Trump accountable and take action to remove him from office.
“I don’t think Republicans will convict the president,” she said. “I do not think the Cabinet has the guts or the spine to use the 25th Amendment. I do not think the Republican senators have the guts or the spine.”
The senator said Trump should be criminally prosecuted after The Washington Post released a recording of a phone call last weekend where the president asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” thousands of votes needed to flip the state in his favor.
“That is absolutely illegal — it is a violation of the law,” Gillibrand said. “I think the president can be criminally prosecuted for the phone call he had.
Officials must address the continuing battle of misinformation, unchecked powers of social media platforms and fake news stories riddled with false information, photos and conspiracy theories — many of which Trump perpetuated, which riled his base over the last four-plus years, culminating in Wednesday’s chaotic attack on Capitol Hill, she said.
“Many members must look at themselves in the mirror, and understand the cost of indulging conspiracies — four people lost their lives yesterday, and we are lucky it wasn’t more,” Gillibrand added.
Representatives returned to the chamber to certify the remaining electoral votes Wednesday evening after several hours of lockdown — showing strength in the threat to the nation’s democracy, the senator said.
“In the days ahead our duty will require us to push for accountability — for every rioter who desecrated the Capitol, for the president who incited them,” she said. “President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in on January 20, and we will turn the page on this dark chapter of American history. When we do, we can begin the necessary work of repairing the damage done by the current administration and rebuilding our democracy.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a brief telephone call with reporters Thursday afternoon about Wednesday’s events on Capitol Hill.
“President Trump didn’t start it yesterday — President Trump started this four years ago,” the governor said. “When you spread hatred and distrust and division, don’t be surprised at the ugliness. ... This is a man who has spent four years touching the darker side of humanity, exploiting fear, exploiting fear of people who are different, praying on insecurity. That’s what yesterday was. It was an explosion of hate that he created over four years.”
Hatred is Trump’s legacy, Cuomo said.
“The American people reject hate, reject violence, reject division, and they do it now with one clear voice,” he said.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.