As lawmakers prepared to impeach President Donald Trump over his alleged role in the deadly riot on Capitol Hill last week, Vice President Mike Pence was facing calls to speed up the removal process on his own accord.
But according to the Washington Examiner, Pence shut down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her allies’ hopes of quickly forcing Trump out with a letter arguing that such a move “would set a terrible precedent.”
Pelosi and company had called on Pence to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that allows for the removal of a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” if the vice president and a majority of the president’s Cabinet agree to it.
The House moved Tuesday to issue a resolution formally urging Pence to get the ball rolling on such proceedings, NPR reported. But before they could do so, Pence made clear that he wasn’t interested.
“Not a means of punishment”
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence said in a letter to Pelosi earlier this week, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation,” the vice president added.
Pence went on to note that the 25th Amendment was meant to be used in cases where a president has been incapacitated due to a medical condition, and there is no evidence that Trump has one.
The vice president also referenced a statement from Pelosi in which she is said to have remarked that a “president’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts,” rather than “on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like.”
“Madam Speaker, you were right,” Pence reportedly acknowledged. “Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation.”
“The passions of the moment”
Pence concluded his message by calling on “every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”
“Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States,” he implored, as the Examiner reported.
Seeming to ignore Pence’s pleas, the House voted 232–197 on Wednesday to impeach President Trump a second time, according to USA Today. A trial in the Senate likely won’t conclude until after Trump leaves office, however.