After Donald Trump´s supporters, violently stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement that Vice President Mike Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows for a transfer of power from the president to the vice-president, either temporarily or permanently.
“What happened at the US Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said. “If the vice-president and the cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” he added.
Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee have also written a letter to Vice-President Pence urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office, saying he had stoked an act of insurrection and “sought to undermine our democracy”.
As a BBC News report explains, the 25th Amendment allows the vice-president to become acting president when a president is unable to continue his duties, if for example, he or she becomes incapacitated due to a physical or mental illness.
You can read: Capitol riots: A dark day for U.S. democracy
They would need to sign a letter to the speakers of the Houses of Representatives and the Senate declaring the president is unfit to govern or incapable “of discharging the powers and duties of his office”. At this point, Vice-President Mike Pence would automatically take over.
The president is given the chance to offer a written response, and if he contests the finding, then it falls on Congress to decide. Any vote in the Senate and House of Representatives ordering the president’s removal requires a two-thirds majority.
Until the issue is resolved, the vice-president would act as president.
Besides the25th Amendment, there have been calls for President Trump to be impeached for a second time as well. Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced she was drawing up articles of impeachment against him, with a growing number of fellow Democrats voicing their support.
To impeach means to bring charges in Congress that will form the basis for a trial.
The US constitution states a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.
It happens in two stages , articles are brought to the House of Representatives where, if passed, they proceed to the Senate for a trial.
But here, a two-thirds vote is necessary for a president’s removal and this milestone has never been reached in US history.
Questions remain as to whether there would be enough time to impeach Donald Trump before his term ends on 20 January, when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.