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Health secretary declines to say if he's discussed 25th Amendment to remove Trump

Health secretary declines to say if he's discussed 25th Amendment to remove Trump
© Bonnie Cash

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declined to say early Tuesday if he has discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE from office after violent rioting at the U.S. Capitol by the president's supporters.

Azar during an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" did not defend Trump, who spoke to supporters before they stormed the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE's victory, but did not say he thinks the president is unfit for office.

"The rhetoric last week was unacceptable," Azar said when asked if the president is able to "discharge the duties of his office," the standard for removal under the 25th Amendment.

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"I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here," he added.

Azar also declined to say if he had discussed the 25th Amendment with other Cabinet members or Vice President Pence. A majority of the Cabinet and the vice president is needed to remove the president. 

"It would not be appropriate for me to discuss, and I never have, my conversations with colleagues or with the president and vice president," he said.

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Azar said he is not going to resign and will serve the remaining eight days overseeing the coronavirus response.

"I'm committed, I've wrestled with this, I'm committed to see this through in my role as health secretary during a pandemic to ensure that vaccines and therapeutics get out to the American people and to ensure a smooth handoff to President-elect Biden's team," he said.

The House is preparing to vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, given that it does not appear that the 25th Amendment will be invoked before then.