Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he has had no part in any discussions with other cabinet members about invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to oust President Donald Trump from office and doesn't anticipate such conversations will take place.
“I’ve had no contact with other cabinet members in that area nor do I expect to have any,” Perdue told reporters Thursday at a USDA event in Georgia on expanding high-speed broadband.
Reports emerged Wednesday of government officials discussing using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office following a mob of the president's supporters breaching the Capitol building after the president addressed them in a rally near the White House.
Section four of the 25th Amendment states that if the vice president and a majority of cabinet members declare to Congress the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” then “the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that she is resigning, effective Monday, citing the mob takeover of the Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Chao is married to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who rebuffed Trump's demands on Congress to reject the results of the November election.
“Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside," she said in a statement to department employees.
Perdue appeared to criticize Trump's behavior in connection with Wednesday's event.
“As you know, I’ve been a supporter of the president based on his policies,” Perdue told reporters. “I think inciting people to not have a peaceful transition of power is not the right thing to do and I’m disappointed in that.”
Trump, speaking Wednesday at the rally, said, “We will never give up. We will never concede.”
Still, when asked directly if Trump was responsible for inciting the mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, Perdue was noncommittal.
“Again, I haven’t read the tweets and I don’t know that,” Perdue said. “Say what you want about President Trump, but he did love the United States of America and he wanted the best for America.”
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Separately, Perdue lamented the attack on the Capitol by the “gathering of the people who were very supportive of the president.”
“I think all of us are sad about the events of yesterday,” Perdue said. “Each of us would have preferred that that not happen and it did and we’re going to go forward as America. We have a new president and we’re going to work together as Georgians, as Americans and continue to make this country great.”
Meanwhile, calls from Capitol Hill for Trump's removal intensified on Thursday, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of New York.
At an afternoon news conference, Pelosi demanded Pence initiate the 25th Amendment process, even though Trump had less than two weeks left in office. "Any day can be a horror show for America," she said, describing him as a "very dangerous man." She said Congress could impeach Trump a second time if Pence and the Cabinet don't act.
Earlier Thursday, Schumer tweeted, “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by President Trump. This president must not hold office one day longer. The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rejected the calls to remove Trump but also appealed to Trump's key advisers to stay in their jobs rather than to resign in protest. He singled out National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien as one who should stay.
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