After a pro-Trump mob stormed the United States Capitol Wednesday, 10 politics professors at the Claremont Colleges joined more than 1,500 political scientists in an open letter calling for the immediate removal of President Donald Trump from office.
Claremont McKenna College government professors Jennifer Taw, Lisa Koch, Jon Shields and John J. Pitney, Jr., Pomona College politics professors Amanda Hollis-Brusky, David Menefee-Libey, Heidi Nichols Haddad and Mieczysław Boduszyński, Scripps College politics professor Sumita Pahwa and Pitzer College political studies professor Rachel VanSickle-Ward are among the ever-growing number of signatories.
One woman was shot and killed by U.S. Capitol Police inside the Capitol yesterday after attempting to gain access to the area where members of Congress were sheltering. Three other people died from “separate medical emergencies,” according to Washington Police Chief Robert Contee.
The attack came after President Trump instructed his supporters in a rally Wednesday to march towards the Capitol and said “you’ll never take back our country with weakness.”
“Trump and his enablers fomented and encouraged the violent attack on our nation’s Capitol,” Van Sickle-Ward said in an email. “Yesterday’s attack was rooted in white supremacy,” she added.
Hollis-Brusky implored students in an email to TSL to not become “desensitized to this violence” that she described as “shocking and unsettling and frightening and disgusting.”
“Pressure your representatives for anti-corruption measures, for a stronger and renewed Voting Rights Act, for stricter enforcement against domestic terrorism, and never let up,” Hollis-Brusky said. “Get involved. Run for office. Encourage your friends to do the same.”
The letter calls on Vice President Mike Pence, the Cabinet, and Congress to either begin the impeachment process or invoke the 25th Amendment.
“[President Trump] has rejected the peaceful transfer of power, encouraged state legislators to overturn election results in their states, pressured a state official to change election results, and now incited a violent mob that shut down the counting of electoral votes and stormed the U.S. Capitol,” the letter said.
Pitney, the author of “Un-American: The Fake Patriotism of Donald J. Trump,” said in an email that he and his fellow signatories are “citizens as well as scholars.”
Hollis-Brusky, a professor who teaches constitutional law, noted that political scientists “have specialized knowledge and that knowledge gives us a special obligation to inform and influence the public conversation and political decision making if and when we can.”
While Menefee-Libey said in an email that he believes Trump has violated his oath of office since his inauguration, he said Trump’s “violations now sharply threaten the United States, our constitution, and our people.”
In addition to having the authority to remove Trump from office with a two-thirds majority if the House impeaches him, the Senate can also permanently bar him from serving as president again.
Shields noted in an email that, as a center-right academic, he felt “a particular responsibility to repudiate Trump” and prevent him from running again in 2024.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that invoking the 25th Amendment was the “quickest and most effective way” to remove Trump.
However, Schumer said Congress should reconvene and impeach Trump if Pence and the Cabinet refuse to invoke the 25th Amendment. This would become the first time in American history that Congress will have impeached the same president on two separate occasions.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi agreed with Schumer and called on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to take action.
Under the 25th Amendment, a majority of President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries and Vice President Pence would have to agree that Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” for Pence to immediately become the acting president.
This would initiate a protracted struggle between Trump, the Cabinet, Pence, and Congress, but it is unlikely that Trump could resume his position before his term expires at noon on January 20, according to constitutional law professor Josh Blackman. At that point, President-elect Biden would assume the presidency.
Shields said that “conservatives in any position of influence should stand together to defend our democracy against this tyrant.”
Looking forward to the next four years, Pitney said, “As a conservative, I won’t agree with some of his policies. But Joe Biden is a good man who loves our country. Donald Trump is not.”
In an email, Taw said, “Yesterday’s events were predictable, the result of deliberate mobilization, and unlikely to be the last domestic terrorism we see.”
“We can expect that [yesterday’s events] invigorated those Americans who have bought into disinformation, fear, and conspiracy, and that they have longer-term implications for the political health of the country,” Taw added.
Pahwa cautioned in an email against “complacency in the US about the exceptional robustness of its democracy and democratic norms,” noting that “[this complacency] is simply not justified from a historical and comparative perspective.”
“We want to lend our voices and experience to encourage those in power to realize the importance of applying constitutional provisions to sanction this attempt and stop further attempts,” Pahwa said. “Because there will be further attempts.”
Thirteen days remain in Trump’s term, and Menefee-Libey said he expects the president “will become even more dangerous in coming days.”
After President Trump’s social media accounts were frozen by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for safety policy violations, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino tweeted a statement attributed to Trump Thursday morning.
While the statement said that “there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” it repeated false claims about the integrity of the election results.
“The President’s actions show he is unwilling or unable to fulfill his oath to protect and defend the Constitution,” the letter concluded. “He should be removed from office immediately before further violence takes place or further damage is done to our democracy.”
This article was last updated on Jan. 9, 2020 at 1:19 p.m.