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House Approves 25th Amendment Resolution Against Trump, Pence Says He Won't Invoke

Vice President Mike Pence.
Pool/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
Vice President Pence reads the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November's presidential election during a joint session of Congress early on Jan. 7.

Updated at 11:29 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives approved a symbolic resolution urging Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Trump, after the president's No. 2 has expressed that he would not exercise that option. The move comes nearly a week after violent pro-Trump extremistsbreached the U.S. Capitol.

Pence made his intention clear in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday evening, as the House was taking up a resolution calling on Pence to invoke the amendment, convene the Cabinet, declare Trump unfit for office, and assume the powers and responsibilities of acting president.

"I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution," Pence writes. He says the amendment is "not a means of punishment or usurpation," and that invoking it would "set a terrible precedent."

He says the Trump administration is committed to ensuring an orderly transition in its final days and that "now is the time to heal."

Still, the resolution passed the Democratic-controlled House, as had been expected.

Trump "widely advertised and broadly encouraged" the protests that led to last week's violence, the resolution argues, and then ignored calls to condemn his supporters' actions swiftly. It also cites his repeated efforts to delegitimize the presidential election results with false claims of widespread voter fraud.

The motion's approval comes as Democrats in the House have also filed an impeachment resolutioncharging Trump with fomenting the insurrection.

With Pence's response to the 25th Amendment resolution, the House plans to move forward with impeachment proceedings. Trump is just the third U.S. president to have been impeached. He would be the only one to have been impeached twice.

Democrats, emboldened by bipartisan outrage over last week's siege of the Capitol, are resolved in their efforts to seek Trump's dismissal even before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Speaking Tuesday in Texas, Trump said that "the 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration."

Earlier Tuesday, Trump called the move to impeach him again "ridiculous."

"For [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Democratic leader] Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country and it's causing tremendous anger," he told reporters.

Some Republican supporters of Trump were pressed Tuesday on their role in encouraging his baseless election fraud claims, and in pushing events that led to the violent insurrection at the Capitol.

"Those of us who spoke against the unconstitutional way several states conducted their election were following the process," Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said in response to criticism. "And we did nothing different than Democrats have done every time a Republican's been elected this century."

In a news conference Tuesday, Schumer said he's asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call the Senate back into session immediately to begin a likely impeachment trial.

“We could come back ASAP and vote to convict Donald Trump and get him out of office now before any further damage is done," Schumer said.

Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.