Two of the Cabinet members closest to former President Donald Trump had multiple conversations about whether to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment, according to a new book released Tuesday.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin—one of the few Trump Cabinet members to last the entirety of the administration—had conversations on Jan. 6 and 7 about invoking the 25th Amendment after seeing Trump’s behavior before, during, and after the Capitol riot, according to ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl’s “Betrayal,” which was published Tuesday.
Pompeo also reportedly asked for a legal analysis of invoking the amendment, which was ratified in the years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to resolve questions of presidential succession. “The analysis determined that it would take too much time, considering that Trump only had 14 days left in office and any attempt to forcefully remove him would be subject to legal challenge,” Karl wrote.
Through a spokesperson, Pompeo “denied there have ever been conversations around invoking the 25th Amendment,” according to Karl.
Trump repeatedly fought the Jan. 6 certification of President Joe Biden’s election win, and in his speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally that morning, encouraged protesters to go to the Capitol. Trump supporters ultimately rioted at the Capitol and delayed certification for several hours; four people died that day, including a Capitol police officer and three Trump supporters, one of whom was shot by police.
More than 600 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot. Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was indicted Monday on contempt of Congress charges stemming from his refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena related to Jan. 6.
Though he reports that two of Trump’s most trusted Cabinet members discussed removing him from office, Karl says the idea of Trump’s Cabinet actually following through was “ludicrous.” The idea all but died when two other Cabinet secretaries—Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao—resigned on Jan. 7, as removal would require approval from the Vice President as well as a majority of Cabinet secretaries.
“That behavior was unconscionable for our country,” DeVos wrote to Trump in her resignation letter. “There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
Pompeo and Mnuchin, on the other hand, left office along with Trump on January 20.
Karl’s book also details the days leading up to Jan. 6, reporting that Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Vice President Mike Pence’s staff a legal memo arguing that Pence should block the certification of votes from six states and invalidate the votes entirely if the states didn’t send back another slate of electors.
And in an interview for the book, Trump told Karl that “the people were very angry” when rioters who stormed the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”
“It’s common sense, John,” Trump told Karl. “How can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that?”
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