Northern Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger first Congressional Republican to call for 25th Amendment to remove Trump in aftermath of chaos in Capitol

‘It is with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked,’ Kinzinger tweeted

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who represents northern Illinois’ 16th District in the House, became the first Congressional Republican to call Thursday morning for President Donald Trump’s removal in the aftermath of a dark day in Washington that saw a mob of protesters breach the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were in session.

“It is with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked,” Kinzinger tweeted with an accompanying video statement.

“When pressed to move and denounce the violence, he barely did so, while of course victimizing himself and seeming to give a wink and a nod of to those doing it,” Kinzinger went on to say of the president. “All indications are that the president has become unmoored not just from his duty, or even his oath, but reality itself.”

His comments come a day after protesters, some armed, broke into the Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers. A woman who was shot by U.S. Capitol Police in the Capitol building died Wednesday, and three others died in “medical emergencies,” Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said.

U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten, who represent northern Illinois Congressional districts, also called for Trump’s removal.

More of the state’s Congressional delegation supported exploring Trump’s removal throughout the day. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, cited Trump’s role in inspiring the violence and called for his impeachment for the second time.

“President Trump’s actions since the election, including fomenting the violent insurrection at the Capitol yesterday, have only made the case for removing him from office stronger,” Foster said in a statement on Facebook. “I voted to impeach the President before, and I would do so again.”

Foster voted to impeach the president in 2019, charging him of abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, D-La Grange, made multiple statements on social media Wednesday decrying the violence.

In response to Gov. JB Pritzker’s call for Congress to impeach and remove Trump from office, Newman tweeted, “Couldn’t agree more. We’re on it.”

She also backed an effort by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, to expel their Republican colleagues who she said “have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election” and “must face consequences.”

Former Attorney General William Barr said Trump’s conduct as hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Barr said Thursday that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

Barr, who had been one of Trump’s most loyal and ardent defenders in the Cabinet, resigned last month amid lingering tension over the president’s claims of election fraud and the investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Current and former government officials are not the only parties seeking to limit the reach of Trump’s platform ahead of the scheduled Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts would be locked through at least Inauguration Day.

“We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg said in a statement on his personal page. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Congress reconvened late Wednesday, after the Capitol was cleared, to certify the counting of the electoral college votes showing Biden defeated Trump in the November election, making the incumbent the only president ever to lose the popular vote in the election that sent him to the White House, get impeached by the House of Representatives, and not win a second term.

After Kinzinger’s statement Thursday morning, more Republicans began to consider removing Trump from office through impeachment.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are reportedly set to announce articles of impeachment for Trump, according to a tweet by Rep. David Cicilline, R-Rhode Island. Ted Lieu, D-California, and Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, have helped the Rhode Island congressman author the articles, according to the tweet.

That announcement came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said in a statement that Trump should be “immediately” removed from office through either the 25th Amendment or impeachment, a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday.

The articles of impeachment Cicilline posted to Twitter claim that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting the protesters who illegally entered the Capitol.

“In all of this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the proposed articles of impeachment state. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

In an interview Thursday, Casten said officials should move forward with impeachment and with invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

“It’s prudent to proceed on both fronts. When you have someone in a position of great power and great responsibility with the complete incapability of handling that power that we have in this moment, our democracy is far too important to preserve,” Casten said. “We need to get this guy out, and then once that is done, we need to prosecute him for crimes.”

It is regretful, Casten said, that Republicans opposed the House’s initial attempt to impeach Trump last year, and that the GOP-led Senate declined to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors after the passage of articles of impeachment in the lower chamber.

“There is nobody on Capitol Hill who is in any way surprised by who Donald Trump is. We tried to fix it early on before the damage was done, and there is a separate cohort who tried to ride this out because they were afraid of alienating Trump’s supporters because they feared they couldn’t win an election,” Casten said. “That is the opposite of leadership.”

On a local level, McHenry Township Assessor Mary Mahady, a Democrat, supports Trump’s removal from the presidency by any means.

To help heal the nation’s political divide displayed so vividly in Washington this week, she said elected leaders in the area must do better at listening to and respecting the desires of their constituents expressed at the ballot box, even when those may not align with the agenda of a particular official in power.

Other Republican leaders in the area have supported a deeper look into the November election irregularities alleged by Trump.

“Those who peacefully assembled represent a large segment of our country wanting answers and verification. Both sides believe examination and verification of states ballots could end the questions that remain,” state House Rep. Marty McLaughlin, who represents the 52nd District, which consists of parts of McHenry, Lake, Kane and Cook counties, said in a statement.

McLaughlin declined an interview request.

“Violence during protests and assemblies is never acceptable,” McLaughlin said in the statement. “We must make certain all states including Illinois adopt the same checks and balances Florida did after the Bush vs. Gore (election) so that this never happens again.”

What’s the difference between impeachment and invoking the 25th Amendment?

Who starts the process: The 25th Amendment can be invoked by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet by sending a written declaration “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” to the leaders of the Senate and House. Once that is done, the vice president immediately becomes the acting president.

With impeachment, the process is started in the U.S. House of Representatives, where articles of impeachment are drawn up after an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, to be voted on by the full House.

Why it’s done: The 25th Amendment is to be done when the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The amendment also addresses who becomes president if the sitting president dies.

Impeachment is a way of removing the president, vice president and all federal civil officers from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

How does it work: After the 25th Amendment is invoked, the president can take back the powers and duties of the office by also sending a written declaration to the Senate President pro tempore and House Speaker. The vice president and the Cabinet can attempt to block this.

Should that happen, Congress is tasked with deciding the issue. It is required to assemble within 48 hours if not already in session, and it would take a two-thirds majority of both houses to keep the vice president as acting president.

If Congress does not make a decision within 21 days, the president would resume the powers and duties of his office.

With impeachment, after the House votes on articles of impeachment, the process moves to the Senate where a two-thirds vote of members present is required to convict.

Has it been done before: The 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has been used a handful times, though Section 4 – the section that would be used to remove the president without his consent – has not.

Two presidents – George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – have used the 25th Amendment to temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to the vice president during surgeries and other medical procedures.

Three presidents have been impeached but none convicted. The most recent was Trump, who was accused in the articles of impeachment of attempting to pressure the Ukrainian government into opening investigations Joe Biden, as well as obstruction of Congress.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry covers local government, business, K-12 education and all other aspects of life in McHenry County, in particular in the communities of Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and Johnsburg.

Emily K. Coleman

Originally from the northwest suburbs, Emily K. Coleman is the associate editor for the Northwest Herald. She spent about seven years prior to that with Shaw Media, first covering the town of Dixon for Sauk Valley Media and then various communities within McHenry County from 2012 to 2016.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.