Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Thursday called for President Donald Trump's removal from office in the wake of violent riots at the U.S. Capitol the day before. In doing so, Kinzinger became the first Republican member of Congress to publicly call for Trump to leave office, saying that Trump "has become unmoored... from reality itself."
"Yesterday was a sad day, as we all know. It was the day where fire stoked by the president and other leaders finally leapt out of the pit and it lit the trees," Kinzinger said in a video posted on social media.
"What happened yesterday is a wake up call to many but it's a call to accountability for others," he continued, raising the topic of the 25th Amendment's provision enabling a majority of Cabinet members and the vice president to assume the duties of the presidency.
Kinzinger noted that previous administrations have used the 25th Amendment as a precaution while presidents have undergone surgery "because even for that moment to have the captain of the ship absent could cause a major catastrophe."
"Sadly yesterday it became evident that not only has the president abdicated his duty to protect the American people and the people's house, he invoked and inflamed passions that only gave fuel to the insurrection that we saw here," Kinzinger said.
"When pressed to move and denounce the violence he barely did so while, of course, victimizing himself and seeming to give a wink and a nod to those doing it," Kinzinger said, seemingly in reference to a video Trump posted on Twitter encouraging rioters to go home but calling them "very special" and saying, "We love you," as well as several tweets the social media platform later took down, locking his account and saying the messages were inciting violence.
"All indications are that the president has become unmoored not just from his duty or even his oath but from reality itself," Kinzinger said. "it is for this reason that I call for the vice president and the members of the Cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people and that we have a sane
captain of the ship."
Kinzinger said Trump "caused this" and that he is both "unfit" and "unwell," saying he "must now relinquish control of the executive branch, voluntarily or involuntarily."
With his message, Kinzinger joined more than a hundred other members of Congress in both chambers, all Democrats, who have called for Trump's removal from office either by impeachment or the 25th Amendment.
Kinzinger has spoken out against the president on several occasions and has been rumored to be considering a statewide run in Illinois, potentially for governor in 2022, according to multiple reports.
Those calling for Trump's removal include 10 Democrats from Illinois as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer said in a statement Thursday that the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president," adding, “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
“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,” Schumer said. “If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
The 25th Amendment says the vice president and a majority of principal officers of executive departments “or of such other body as Congress” may provide a declaration to Congress that the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
At that point, the vice president would assume the powers of acting president.
It was passed following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and President George W. Bush used it to temporarily transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush was anesthetized for a colonoscopy.
U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar said Wednesday she taking a different tactic, drawing up articles of impeachment.
In an impeachment, the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached official upon conviction is removal from office. In some cases, the Senate has also disqualified such officials from holding public offices in the future.
Multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News late Wednesday that there have been informal discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment among staff within the Trump administration.
It's unclear whether Cabinet-level officials have discussed the matter; two sources said the issue hasn't been broached with Pence, who would need to agree along with a majority of the Cabinet to empower the vice president under the 25th Amendment.