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First GOP lawmaker calls for invoking 25th Amendment to remove Trump

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerRepublicans, please save your party House GOP campaign chief: Not helpful for Trump to meddle in primaries Democrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump MORE (R-Ill.) on Thursday became the first GOP lawmaker to call for invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE from office.

It came a day after a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the U.S. Capitol in a futile bid to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Kinzinger, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who continues to serve in the Air Force, lay blame for the insurrection at the feet of the president himself, who had urged his supporters to march on the Capitol. 

"Here’s the truth. The president caused this. The president is unfit and the president is unwell. And the president now must relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntarily," Kinzinger, a centrist Republican and frequent Trump critic, said in a video message posted on Twitter.

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Kinzinger noted that during past administrations the 25th Amendment has been invoked when a president has been under anesthesia, passing power temporarily to the vice president, “because even for that moment to have the captain of the ship absent could cause a major catastrophe.”

The Illinois Republican said Trump “abdicated his duty” to protect Americans in Congress, “inflamed passions” that fueled the insurrection, and half-heartedly denounced the violence — what the congressman called a “wink and a nod” to his supporters trashing the Capitol.  

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“All indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, nor even his oath, but from reality itself,” Kinzinger said. “It’s for this reason that I call for the vice president and members of the Cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people  and that we have a sane captain the ship.”

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment would allow Vice President Pence and a majority of cabinet members to vote to install Pence as president for the remaining two weeks of Trump’s term. Administration officials have already begun discussing that very possibility. 

“Until the president is able to himself. It's time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare,” Kinzinger said.

By Wednesday night, dozens of Democrats had called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. And all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Pence pressing him on the issue. But until Thursday morning no Republican lawmakers had joined the effort. 

During an appearance on MSNBC later, Kinzinger explained that he made the decision to publicly support the 25th Amendment effort to oust Trump when he woke up Thursday morning and saw some GOP colleagues floating baseless conspiracy theories that left-wing rioters, masquerading as Trump backers, were actually responsible for the violence.

“I think it's obvious that there are people that their own political survival demands that they create a different narrative to what happened yesterday, and creating a different narrative is going to lead to something like this happening again, or maybe worse,” Kinzinger said.

Updated at 12:12 p.m.