Minnesota's Democratic members of Congress support removing President Donald Trump from office for inciting Wednesday's deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The consideration of removing a sitting president less than two weeks before he is to leave office reflected the extraordinary nature of a week that saw those same members of Congress take cover as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Trump held a rally before the rioting, making more baseless claims of election fraud and vowed he would never concede.
"I don't think he should be sitting in that office anymore," said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. "It's scary for people — he hasn't been acting as a president should."
All four of their Republican counterparts objected on Friday, saying the president should serve out his term.
"Leaders from both parties need to encourage calm and let the peaceful transition the President has committed to play out," said Rep. Tom Emmer, who was an early backer of Trump's presidency. "Pursuing articles of impeachment with less than two weeks left in this administration seems more like a political maneuver than a means to heal the tensions and raw emotion our country is experiencing."
Although each Democrat in Minnesota's delegation has spoken out in favor of removing Trump, some say his cabinet should intervene by invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and cabinet to remove the president from office if they deem him is unable to do the job. Others are calling for swift action to make Trump the first president to be impeached twice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the House would impeach Trump if he did not resign immediately.
Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith have called on Trump's cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment after Wednesday's siege. Smith also said that she would again support impeachment. Klobuchar meanwhile noted her own vote to impeach Trump during the February 2020 impeachment trial at which the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate acquitted Trump on charges that stemmed from Trump pressuring Ukraine's president to interfere in the presidential election on his behalf.
Smith said that, regardless of method, Trump "should not be president anymore."
"I believe that this president is so dangerous to our democracy and he will continue to be dangerous every day he is office," Smith said. "I believe it is essential that we have accountability in this moment."
Although Congress recessed after certifying Biden's victory early Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips was among the Democrats to stay in Washington to lobby Congress to "immediately reconvene, take steps necessary to remove the President, and ensure he never holds public office again," he wrote on Twitter Friday morning, adding that "history will condemn those who defend the instigation of sedition."
In an interview, Phillips called Trump "the de facto inspiration" for the Capitol attack. "It's an egregious offense and unforgivable."
Minnesota's Republican delegation, meanwhile, opposes impeaching Trump so soon before he is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20 and arguing that it would be a divisive process at a vulnerable time.
Spokesmen for Reps. Jim Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach said Friday that the two Minnesota Republicans would not back such a move by Congress.
"Joe Biden will take office as the next President on January 20. House Democrats simply cannot help themselves with their attempts to further divide the nation and subject the American people to more partisan battles," said Jacob Murphy, a spokesman for Hagedorn.
In an interview with MPR News on Friday, Stauber said he does not support impeachment.
"I think that the impeachment is only going to continuously divide this country and not heal," Stauber said. "We need healing in this country and the peaceful transition of power will provide that."
Fischbach and Hagedorn were among the House Republicans who still voted to object to certifying Biden's victory in certain states after Wednesday's joint session of Congress resumed after the Capitol siege. The Minnesota DFL Party has called for Fischbach and Hagedorn to be expelled from office over their votes during the joint session.
Minnesota Democrats used stark terms to underscore the danger they say Trump poses with each day he remains in office. Speaking to reporters Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar described in harrowing terms her experience taking shelter as a violent mob breached the Capitol a day earlier and underlined the need for Congress to quickly take steps toward ending Trump's presidency early.
"It was a targeted blow at the most essential process that makes us a democracy and it was intentionally and specifically incited by the president of the United States," Omar said of the insurrection, later adding: "This is incitement, plain and simple, of a coup attempt against our government."
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig has also joined a resolution for articles of impeachment, adding that Congress must take action if Trump is not removed from office via the 25th Amendment process.
"Every day that President Donald Trump remains in Office is a threat to our nation," Craig wrote on Twitter.
Some congressional Democrats have opted to wait for action from Trump's cabinet to intervene and remove the president. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum tweeted this week that if "the VP and Cabinet will not act to uphold the Constitution, then Congress must use our constitutional power to impeach and remove President Donald Trump from office."
Omar and Phillips want to see impeachment happen right away, regardless of what steps are taken or not taken by Vice President Mike Pence — whom Pelosi has tried to reach to urge invoking the 25th Amendment — and Trump's cabinet. Deeming Trump a "clear threat to our country and democracy," Omar called on her leadership to swiftly pursue impeachment and not to wait for members of Trump's cabinet to take action.
Those "complacent in [Trump's] crimes," Omar said, "cannot be relied upon to hold him accountable."
"And as much as we all know that it can be an easier process to invoke the 25th Amendment than to proceed with impeachment, we must do what we are constitutionally obligated to do as members of Congress and not delegate our responsibility to this nation onto others," Omar said.
Phillips said that the remainder of Trump's term "might not seem like a lot of time. But we saw on Wednesday how much difference one day could make."
Reporters Briana Bierschbach, Pat Condon and Jim Spencer contributed to this report.
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755