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Adam Kinzinger is first GOP congressman calling for invoking 25th Amendment to remove Trump

CBS News logo CBS News 1/7/2021 Kathryn Watson
Adam Kinzinger wearing a suit and tie: kinzinger1.png © CBS News kinzinger1.png

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has become the first GOP member of Congress to publicly call for the removal of President Trump from office with the invocation of the 25th Amendment, after Mr. Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol and failed to condemn the violence when those supporters carried out an assault on the U.S. Capitol. 

Kinzinger, who has been critical of the president at times, said Mr. Trump is "unfit" and "unwell," and it's time for the vice president and Cabinet to step up to the task at hand. The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to relieve the president of his duties.

"It's time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare," Kinzinger said in a video he posted to Twitter Thursday morning. 

Kinzinger was among the minority of House Republicans who did not vote to object to states' election results overnight. 

A growing number of Democrats are also calling for the invocation of the 25th Amendment, or for impeachment, removal and a permanent ban from running for office. As CBS News has reported, some Cabinet members have begun to whisper about whether to invoke the 25th Amendment.

It was Vice President Pence, not Mr. Trump, who was most visible during the violence Wednesday and worked with the Pentagon and various entities to help secure the U.S. Capitol after pro-Trump rioters stormed it. Mr. Trump lashed out at Pence on Twitter while the Capitol was under siege because Pence didn't try to stop Congress from counting states' Electoral votes. Pence ultimately announced President-elect Joe Biden as the winner in the early morning hours of Thursday.

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Here is the transcript of what Kinzinger said in his video statement:

Yesterday was a sad day, as we all know. It was the day where fires stoked by the president and other leaders finally leapt out of the pit, and it lit the trees. Thankfully, the strength of our Constitution and democracy help, and we emerge today a little battered, but resolved. 

What happened yesterday is a wake-up call to many, but it's a call to accountability for others. In the past few presidencies, the administrations have been so concerned about even a moment of weakness that the 25th Amendment was invoked during minor surgeries, passing the duties to the vice president while the president was under anesthesia, 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. 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, all indications that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself. It is for this reason that I call for the vice president and 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. 

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows a majority of the Cabinet and the vice president to assume the duties of the office of presidency until the president is able to himself. It's time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare. We will rise from this, but we cannot forget what led us here. The liars and the conspiracy authors are already at it again this morning with false narratives about yesterday's disaster. 

Here's the truth — the president caused this. The president is unfit and the president is unwell, and the president must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntarily. God bless you, and God bless our enduring democracy. 

— CBS News' Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

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