Vice President Mike Pence quoted Scripture and called for national unity Tuesday in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying he won’t invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.
Pelosi over the weekend had urged Pence to take the first steps in invoking the 25th Amendment, which also could require approval by a majority of the cabinet. Pelosi says Trump should be removed from office for his speech and actions preceding the mob attack on the capitol building.
“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote in the letter. “Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.”
The 25th Amendment, he said, does not apply to the current situation. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment says the president can be removed from office when the vice president and a majority of the cabinet declare in writing that the “President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The vice president would become acting president. The president could then challenge the declaration in Congress, which would vote on the issue. A two-thirds vote of the House and Senate would be required to keep the vice president as acting president.
“As you know full well, the 25th Amendment was designed to address Presidential incapacity or disability,” Pence wrote. “Just a few months ago, when you introduced legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, you said, ‘[a] President's fitness for office must be determined by science and facts.’ You said then that we must be ‘[v]ery respectful of not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don't like, but based on a medical decision.’ Madam Speaker, you were right. Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent.”
Pence urged the nation to come together and heal.
“After the horrific events of this last week, our Administration's energy is directed to ensuring an orderly transition,” Pence wrote. “The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven … a time to heal, ... and a time to build up.’ That time is now. In the midst of a global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6th, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal.
“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment,” Pence concluded. “Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. I pledge to you that I will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mark Wilson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.