Delaware delegation supports removing Trump from office

DOVER — All three members of Delaware’s U.S. congressional delegation are calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Following Wednesday’s riot, where hundreds of pro-Trump extremists forced their way into the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were in session to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, officials from both sides of the aisle spoke in favor of removing the president. Legislators could impeach and convict him, or the vice president and the cabinet could invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, declaring President Trump unfit for office.

Either way, Delaware’s two senators and lone representative, all Democrats, said they believe something needs to be done — simply waiting for President-elect Biden to be sworn in later this month is too dangerous.

“As I said last night, he should be removed from office as quickly as possible. Whether that be through the 25th or impeachment,” Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester wrote on Twitter Thursday. “He’s long been unfit for office. Now he’s a clear and present danger to the country.”

After previously saying he felt trying to remove the president ahead of Jan. 20 would be an unnecessary distraction, Sen. Tom Carper changed his tune a few hours later Wednesday.

“As elected officials, our words matter. They carry weight. And we have an obligation to wield them responsibly,” he said in a statement. “This president, and those who have continued to push the conspiracy theories to which he clings, are complicit in creating an environment that has led to the violence and destruction we saw here today.

“Our country is better than this. But, unfortunately, this is who Donald Trump is. His concern is only for himself – not for the innocent lives his rhetoric endangers, not for the democratic institutions it undermines, not for the country it further divides.

“I have said repeatedly today that Donald Trump should resign immediately. If he refuses, then we must find ways to safeguard our democracy for the next 14 days and remove him from office. It’s not enough to simply ‘turn the temperature down.’

“My Republican colleagues must unequivocally reject the conspiracy theories and extremism that fueled this attack on our peaceful transition of power. Tell the American people the truth. Choose the world’s greatest democracy over Donald Trump.”

Sen. Chris Coons said on the Senate floor around midnight President Trump “does not deserve to be president any longer, and he poses a real and present threat to the future of our democracy.” He elaborated on that Thursday evening, telling CNN he fears the president could start a military conflict somewhere, leaving a mess for President-elect Biden to clean up.

In an interview shortly after with the Delaware State News, he called on Republicans to cleanly break from the president and vote him out of office if the Cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence do not remove him first.

“Bluntly, I think the core responsibility for (Wednesday’s) tragic assault on the Capitol lies with President Trump, who for two months has indulged himself in this fantasy that he won the election,” Sen. Coons said.

Congressional Republicans have blindly supported President Trump for far too long and are now seeing the consequences of their actions, he said, expressing frustration that even after protesters broke into the Capitol, seven senators and 138 representatives still objected to certifying Pennsylvania’s election results.

Lawmakers know the election was fair, and the easiest way to move forward is for GOP legislators to stop lying to their constituents, he said, pointing to more than 60 court cases President Trump’s team has lost since the November contest.

“This is a problem that the Republican majority helped facilitate,” he said.

Many outraged Americans have called for punishing the GOP lawmakers who helped incite the violence by feeding their base lies, with Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, announcing a resolution to study sanctioning and even expelling them.

Congress has expelled members before, most notably removing 17 lawmakers in the 1860s for supporting the breakaway Confederacy.

Sen. Coons said he would be open to considering such a step, citing Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri as men who know better and yet engaged in political theater in hopes of boosting their own reputations with Republican voters.

However, Sen. Coons noted it would be a big move, saying he would want to talk to President-elect Biden before making any final decision on the matter. A spokesman for Rep. Blunt Rochester did not respond to emails asking whether the congresswoman would support sanctioning other members.

Wednesday’s incident hit close to home for Delaware state legislators, who are scheduled to convene Jan. 12 for a new session, although they will meet virtually at first because of the pandemic. In a statement, the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore said they “will be meeting with Capitol Police and the Office of Homeland Security for a thorough review of our security protocols.”