The calls for Donald Trump’s removal from office are intensifying, as some lawmakers blame the president for inciting the mob who stormed and vandalized the US Capitol.
That includes a small group of mostly moderate Republican leaders who have condemned Trump and demanded that he resign or be forced out, either by invoking the 25th Amendment or through impeachment proceedings.
The number of GOP voices remains tiny compared to the growing number of Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and soon-to-be Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who are calling for Trump’s ouster.
On Monday, Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against the president, one count of “incitement of insurrection.” The House could vote as early as this week. Trump could very well be impeached a second time, but two-thirds of the Senate would still be needed to convict him before he could be removed from office — and the Senate may not conclude the trial before Trump’s term expires.
Most Republican senators have so far stayed silent or are opposed. Large swaths of the House GOP caucus stand resolutely behind Trump, and House Republicans blocked a measure on Monday demanding Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet remove Trump under the 25th Amendment.
Republicans, then, are largely closing ranks around the president. But the smattering of denouncements shows that at least some in the Republican Party want a future separate from Trump — small though that group may be.
Republican officials calling for Trump’s removal
Below are the few Republicans currently in office who have so far demanded Trump’s resignation or removal from office.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who’s retiring in 2022, became the second GOP senator to say Trump should step down. “The best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible,” he told Meet the Press on Sunday.
WATCH: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) tells Meet the Press, “the best thing would be a resignation” from President Trump. #MTP@SenToomey: “The best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible” pic.twitter.com/uBjXHaRC3s— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 10, 2021
Toomey also said in an interview with Fox News this weekend that he believed the president had committed “impeachable offenses,” though he hesitated on whether impeachment proceedings and removing him from office was the best course. “I don’t know what’s going to land on the Senate floor, if anything,” he said.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses. But I don't know what is gonna land on the Senate floor, if anything.” pic.twitter.com/5zcnGhccDG— The Recount (@therecount) January 9, 2021
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski became the first Republican senator to demand that Trump leave office. She did not mention impeachment or other methods of removal, but she was unequivocal in her censure of the president.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News in a Friday interview.
“He doesn’t want to stay there,” she added. “He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing.”
Murkowski has a reputation as one of the more moderate Senate Republicans — though she may not even call herself a Republican for much longer. She told the Anchorage Daily News that she might leave the party if it continues to organize itself around Trump. “I will tell you, if the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she said. (Murkowski has since said that if she does leave the GOP, it won’t mean she’d ever become a Democrat.)
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott
Vermont’s Republican governor, who was just sworn in for his third term, was among the first prominent Republicans to demand Trump resign “or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by Congress.”
“Make no mistake, the President of the United States is responsible for this event,” Scott wrote in a thread on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. “President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election.”
The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President.— Governor Phil Scott (@GovPhilScott) January 6, 2021
Enough is enough.
President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress. 6/6
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger
Kinzinger also called on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, the first Republican member of Congress to do so.
“All indications are that the president has become unmoored not just from his duty or even his oath but from reality itself,” Kinzinger said in a video statement posted on Twitter. “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.”
It’s with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked. My statement: pic.twitter.com/yVyQrYcjuD— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 7, 2021
Kinzinger was among the first Republicans to recognize Biden as the rightful president-elect, and has tried to debunk election fraud conspiracies. He has criticized his congressional colleagues who had planned to object to the Electoral College results, calling them “not serious people.” Kinzinger did not specifically mention impeachment in his statement, though he told MSNBC he has not ruled out supporting such a move.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
Maryland’s governor may be the most prominent GOP figure to demand Trump’s removal. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Hogan said “there is no question that America could be better off if the president resigned or were removed from office.”
#BREAKING: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan calling for President Trump to resign or be removed @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/NSN41y2t3W— Lorenzo Hall (@LorenzoHall) January 7, 2021
After the press conference, Hogan wrote, “It is clear to me that President Trump has abandoned his sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Hogan, though a Republican, is not exactly an infrequent Trump critic, and he’s broken with the president on his handling of the coronavirus and immigration. In 1974, Hogan’s father, a GOP congressman, was the first House Republican to support the impeachment of Richard Nixon.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
Massachusetts’s Republican Gov. Charlie Baker — another moderate GOPer who’s clashed with the president — also blamed Trump for the violence in Washington, DC, and for fomenting the chaos with his election fraud conspiracy theories. In a news conference Thursday, he said Pence should lead the transition.
“It’s 14 days, OK?” Baker said, according to the Boston Globe. “I think people should pursue whatever they believe will make it possible, in the most expeditious way possible, for the president to step down and the vice president to assume the powers of the office for the next 14 days so that an orderly transition can take place.”
Most of the Republican resistance stops short of removal
Still, the list of Republicans who have explicitly said Trump should go is still quite short.
Many — though certainly not all — Republican leaders have called out Trump for feeding these conspiracy theories to his supporters, and for using his platform at the rally Wednesday to radicalize the protesters present.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) did not directly call for Trump’s removal, but in an interview with CBS This Morning last week, he signaled that he was open to impeachment proceedings.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has blamed President Trump for the violent assault on the Capitol, calling it an "inevitable and ugly outcome."@SenSasse joins us now. pic.twitter.com/bZHDKuXEWx— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 8, 2021
“The House, if they come together and have a process, I will definitively consider whatever articles they might move because as I’ve told you, I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office,” Sasse told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King. “He swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. He acted against that. What he did was wicked.”
A handful of Cabinet officials have also resigned in protest, most notably Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, and Betsy DeVos, the education secretary. Others considered resigning, including National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, though he was reportedly persuaded to stay on.
Condemnation came from former officials, including those who served under Trump. Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who resigned last month not long after he denied the president’s allegations of widespread voter fraud, said in a statement that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.” Barr said, “The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.” John Kelly, former White House chief of staff and former homeland security secretary, said on CNN that he would, if still in the Cabinet, vote to remove Trump.
Some of these denouncements come a bit late, as many of Trump’s Republican allies did little to stop or condemn Trump and his falsehoods about election fraud in weeks prior to the insurrection at the Capitol.
And so far, few Republicans with actual power to remove the president from office — i.e., those in Congress or leading a Cabinet agency — have said they would definitely do so. Pence is reportedly opposed to invoking the 25th Amendment, and many other lawmakers look like they’d rather move on, echoing the president’s statement Thursday night, where he recognized that a “new administration” would take over and tried to distance himself from the Capitol assault.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of Trump’s biggest defenders in the Senate, said Friday that, as Trump stated, “it is time to heal and move on.”
“If Speaker Pelosi pushes impeachment in the last days of the Trump presidency, it will do more harm than good,” he said.