In the hours since pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol building, violently interrupting procedures to certify the election of Joseph Biden as the next US president, a growing number of legislators are calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. And Oregon’s senators and representatives are joining the chorus. According to Section 4 of this constitutional amendment, which dates from 1967, the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet can declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and have him temporarily removed from exercising power, which would mean appointing Pence in his stead as acting president.
This temporary removal of Trump from exercising his presidential duties could then be followed by articles of impeachment and hearings which have the potential not only to remove him permanently from office, but also could ultimately disqualify him from holding office in the future.
Here’s where our local lawmakers stand on the subject.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden offered the most blistering remarks of our local lawmakers taking to Twitter last night after being evacuated from the Senate floor. He wrote:
“Today's riots by insurrectionists in the nation's Capitol caps off four years of Donald Trump fanning the flames of fanaticism. Every Republican lawmaker who supported his efforts to overturn a legitimate election shares responsibility for today's violence.”
This morning, he added, “As I return to work today, I’m more grateful than ever for all the U.S Capitol staff who work so hard every day to keep this place running. The threats each of you faced yesterday from domestic terrorists were horrific. That must never happen again.” He then called for the Cabinet to act. “As I said last night Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy. His Cabinet must use the 25th amendment to act. And if Mike Pence and Trump’s 'see-no-evil' Cabinet don’t have the stomach to do their duty, Congress should re-convene to impeach this dangerous man.”
As I said last night Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy. His Cabinet must use the 25th amendment to act. And if Mike Pence and Trump’s “see-no-evil” Cabinet don’t have the stomach to do their duty, Congress should re-convene to impeach this dangerous man.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 7, 2021
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley took to Twitter on Thursday to clarify his position on the matter, declaring his support for impeachment and strongly advocating for the 25th Amendment, adding: “Justice demands accountability.”
Trump is absolutely unfit and should be removed from office. If we can do it by Jan 20 by impeachment, I am all for it. The cabinet and VP can and should invoke the 25th Amendment TODAY. And there should be criminal investigations and prosecutions. Justice demands accountability.— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 7, 2021
His position marked a change from his public statements the day before when he had been asked about impeachment. “The president will be gone within days,” he told members of the Oregon media, “and we should put all our effort into preparing to partner to make this effort to lead our nation successful.” He reiterated this position in an interview with the New Yorker.
“To take these critical few weeks and spend them on a President who is going to be removed on January 20th would be a disservice to our nation,” he said, later adding: “I would like to see a resolution of this body rejecting the President’s behavior. Several of us are pondering whether there is any way to get it on the floor of the Senate. It can only get there through McConnell, and McConnell generally doesn’t facilitate such efforts. But possibly.”
Representative Earl Blumenauer
Representative Earl Blumenauer was quick to voice his support both for impeachment proceedings to begin, and for the 25th Amendment. Just hours after the Capitol was stormed, he took to Twitter to make his support for impeachment clear, and followed up with a declaration backing the invocation of the 25th Amendment. “This madman must be removed as soon as possible and we can’t allow him to burn the house down as he goes out the door,” he said on Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning, he was back on Twitter:
We should be in session today impeaching Trump!— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 7, 2021
I’m here and ready.
Representative Suzanne Bonamici
In a video posted from their safe zone while waiting for the Capitol building to be secured, Congresswoman Bonamici called for an end to Donald Trump’s presidency. “Donald Trump has encouraged the rioters and he must be held accountable as they must be held accountable. It is time for him to resign or be removed from office. This is completely unacceptable that he has encouraged these acts of violence and this terrible, awful, terrifying takeover of the capitol here today. I hope everyone who has broken the law here is held accountable.”
I'm preparing to return to the House floor to resume fulfilling our Constitutional duty to certify the presidential election. We won't let domestic terrorists stop us from doing our job.— Suzanne Bonamici (@RepBonamici) January 7, 2021
Trump has encouraged these rioters. It is time for him to resign or be removed from office pic.twitter.com/kw78MY6JEg
In a follow up this morning with her Communications Director, Natalie Croft, she confirmed to Portland Monthly: “The Congresswoman does support all constitutional methods of removing Trump from office, including the 25th Amendment.”
Representative Peter DeFazio
Yesterday after tweeting about his safety and decrying what he called "a direct assault on our democracy," Representative Peter DeFazio put out a statement before returning to the House floor to vote.
“I strongly believe President Trump should be impeached and legally removed from office for his seditious actions and violation of his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution—the very same oath that I and every other Member of Congress have taken.”
The statement continues: “I call on all Members of Congress, the President, and Vice President to stop promoting the lie that the election was fraudulent, denounce the destructive behavior by the insurrectionists, and honor their oath of office by upholding the will of the people and supporting the peaceful transfer of power. I am looking forward to working with the incoming Biden administration and am hopeful that we can get back to fighting the COVID-19 crisis, creating jobs, and providing real relief for America’s working families.”
Representative Kurt Schrader
Representative Schrader has not released an official statement on his website on the subject, nor directly tweeted about the issue. But when asked about removing President Trump from office in an interview today on OPB's "Think Out Loud" today, he discussed the topic.
"I don't see a path for that. I understand emotions are raw and this is heartfelt. Members were on the floor of the house literally cowering in place, fearful for their lives. I didn't feel too great in my office, to be very honest with you. But we've got to turn the page. We have two weeks. I urge my colleagues to stand down and wait two weeks. There's going to be a new president in the United States, a new chapter. This President has been beaten down, he lost his election decisively, and Republican secretaries of state and election officials have rebuked his nearly criminal behavior when he tried to get them to change results." He went on to say, "If the Cabinet wants to remove him, I wouldn't be against that, but that's not Congress's decision—that's up to the Cabinet."
Representative Cliff Bentz
Representative Cliff Bentz was sworn into office just four days ago, taking over the seat Greg Walden occupied for over 20 years. The Congressman is an ardent supporter of President Trump and was one of seven Republican senators and 138 Republican representatives who voted to sustain the objections to certifying the Electoral College count for Pennsylvania. This count was among those the Trump administration had tried unsuccessfully to overturn in multiple lawsuits where no issues were found with the voting system and count.
“As the Representative of Oregon’s Second District, I am committed to listening to the opinions of my constituents, upholding the Constitution, and engaging in the deliberative process entrusted to the United States House of Representatives. I have heard many speak of distrust in the elections that were facilitated by several states,” Bentz said in a statement released this morning.
“As we conclude the Electoral College certification process, we can accept that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. I am committed to a peaceful transfer of power, but I continue to empathize with those whose frustrations with the electoral system remain unresolved. I share their frustrations, and as the Representative of Oregon’s Second District, I will do my best to address their concerns.”