The Democratic-led US House of Representatives has officially approved a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, and declare President Donald Trump “unfit” for office just eight days before his term ends on January 20.
The US House members voted almost on party line, 223-205 to approve the resolution, but it is unlikely to influence Pence, who has already indicated earlier that he is not in favour of removing Trump.
Mr Pence told House leaders before the vote that he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment process to remove President Donald Trump, all but guaranteeing an imminent impeachment vote against the president.
“With just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment,” Pence wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, referring to the process that would declare Trump unable to fulfill his duties and install him as acting president for the remainder of the term.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he added.
He also defended his decision by pointing out that he had also refused the president’s demands that he overturn the official confirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority … and I will not yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation,” he added.
The vice president also vowed to work together with the incoming Biden administration to “ensure an orderly transition of power.”
All Democratic members voted unanimously for the resolution. At least one Republican voted to support the Democratic-backed move.
The vote sets the stage for a separate vote later on 13th January to impeach President Trump, who is accused of inciting insurrection, following the attack by his supporters of the US Capitol on January 6.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed Congressman Jamie Raskin, a former Professor in constitutional law, to lead the second impeachment of US President Donald Trump.
Mrs Pelosi said that the January 6 attack by supporters of President Donald Trump on Congress would “forever stain” US history.
She added that the “facts are clear” that Trump bears responsibility for inciting his supporters to carry out the violent incident, which left five people dead.
The House Speaker also intimated that the president “fanned the flames” and “he and his family cheered and celebrated the desecration of the Capitol.”
“The president’s actions demonstrate his absolute inability to discharge the most basic functions and duties of his office. The president must be removed from office immediately,” she said, urging other Republicans to support the move.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump had dismissed moves by the Democrats to impeach him for a second time as a “hoax” and part of the “greatest and most vicious witch-hunt” in US history.
The president, who is due to leave office in a week, said he was not concerned, saying the 25th was “of zero risk to me”.
He however warned it would “come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration”.
Speaking in Alamo, Texas where he inspected the construction of a section of the border wall with Mexico, Mr Trump warned, “As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch-hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand.”
Before the Texas visit, he also told reporters that the speech Democrats claim “incited the riot” has been deemed appropriate by experts.
“If you read my speech, and many people have done it and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analysed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.”
“Everybody to a tee thought it was totally appropriate,” Mr Trump added.