TWO of Donald Trump's top officials reportedly plotted to oust the president using the 25th Amendment after the Capitol riots – but Mike Pence opposed the move.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin held talks about the possibility of removing Trump after Wednesday's bloodshed in Washington DC, sources told CNBC.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also called for invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to force Trump from office before January 20.
The unprecedented step allows the vice president and the Cabinet to declare the president unfit for office.
But Vice President Mike Pence will not support the calls to expel the president from office, according to Business Insider.
Two aides to the vice president said there is "no way" he would participate in the ousting of Trump.
The aides worried taking the step "could spiral the country even further into chaos and partisan divide".
Schumer said he and Pelosi had tried to call Pence on Thursday to discuss the step, but they could not connect with him.
The top Democratic leaders have called for immediate impeachment proceedings if Pence refuses to take steps to remove Trump from power.
"If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president," Schumer said on Thursday.
"The president's dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office," the pair added in a statement last night.
At least two Republicans, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and US Representative Adam Kinzinger, have also said Trump must go.
Republicans are said to be "furious" at Trump for stirring up his supporters with false claims of election fraud, Axios reports.
Senior figures believe the brash firebrand has "disgraced" the party and encouraged the MAGA mob to "attack" American democracy, the report says.
If impeached in the House, Trump would theoretically face trial in the Republican-controlled Senate – which is scheduled to be in recess until January 19.
Trump discussed pardoning himself before he leaves the White House, two people with knowledge of the subject told the New York Times.
If Trump were to pardon himself, he would be the first president in history to do so.
Pompeo and Mnuchin spoke to their aides and staff about invoking the 25th Amendment, but ultimately decided it was not the right course of action for three reasons, according to CNBC.
The process to remove Trump would take more than a week, which the officials agreed did not make sense considering the president would step down in 13 days.
It was also unclear whether the three acting Cabinet members, not yet confirmed by the Senate, would be able to vote on the matter.
And the move would likely enrage Trump supporters and stoke tensions further, sources said.
"The general plan now is to let the clock run out," a former senior official said.
"There will be a reckoning for this president, but it doesn’t need to happen in the next 13 days."
The Treasury declined to comment and the State Department denied the conversations took place.
Sources told CNN that Trump was "ranting" and "raving" on Thursday night as he watched the 25th Amendment being discussed on TV.
As calls for his removal mounted on Thursday, he released a video in which he denounced the violence at the Capitol.
The president promised to ensure a smooth transition to a "new administration".
Congress certified Joe Biden's election victory early on Thursday, after authorities cleared the Capitol.
In a day of bloodshed on Wednesday, protesters were urged by Trump during a rally near the White House to head to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers were scheduled to confirm Joe Biden's presidential victory.
The mob smashed broke through police barriers, broke windows and paraded through the halls, sending lawmakers into hiding.
At least five people died after the siege – one protester was shot dead by police, and there were dozens of arrests.
Three other people died after medical emergencies related to the assault.
And a Capitol police officer died from injuries sustained in the siege, the force said on Thursday.
Lawmakers have pledged to investigate and question whether a lack of preparedness allowed the MAGA mob to occupy and vandalize the building.
The Pentagon and Justice Department had been rebuffed when they offered assistance.
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