President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he was at no risk of being ousted by the 25th Amendment and called moves to impeach him following the Capitol hill insurgency another “hoax.”
Speaking in Alamo, Texas, in his first live, planned public remarks since last week’s violence, Trump shut down House Democrats’ desire for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove him for encouraging rioters who stormed the Capitol last week.
Democrats plan to vote later Tuesday to request Pence to remove the president by the 25th Amendment, and they intend to impeach the president on a count of inciting insurrection if Pence declines to do so.
Trump brushed off talk of the 25th Amendment, saying it would be more harmful to President-elect Joe Biden than him.
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” Trump said.
“As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for,” he added without elaborating.
Pence has not shown any intention on invoking the 25 Amendment, and House Democrats are lining up to vote on an article of impeachment Wednesday. The article charges Trump with inciting insurrection, which would make him ineligible for future U.S. public office should he be convicted in a Senate trial. He would become the first president in American history to be impeached twice.
Trump dismissed House Democrats’ impeachment efforts as another “hoax” and a continuation of the charges and investigations of malfeasance that have followed him since his 2016 campaign.
He also said impeachment would further divide the country in the wake of Wednesday’s attack, characterizing the measure intended to hold the president responsible for his actions as itself a spark of unrest in the country.
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this tender time,” Trump said.
Trump urged his followers Wednesday to march to the Capitol and protest against members of Congress who had gathered to certify Biden’s electoral win. Those comments play a central role in the House’s impeachment blitz that has materialized in under a week — a contrast to the 2019 impeachment efforts that built up over months.
Before arriving in Texas, Trump offered no remorse for his role in last week’s violence, telling reporters that his comments to supporters before they stormed the Capitol were “totally appropriate.”
He added during his address in Texas that “free speech is under assault like never before.” Trump and several of his supporters who have espoused election conspiracy theories were booted off of Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks in the wake of the Capitol insurrection. Sen. Josh Hawley, who was a leading voice in the Senate to contest the Electoral College results, had his book deal canceled — a move he has repeatedly lambasted as an attack on his free speech.
Trump also used the Texas appearance to ask his supporters to avoid violence. The FBI is warning of potentially violent protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington, D.C. in the coming days, and members of both parties have voiced concern about possible violent attacks during Biden’s inauguration. The Trump administration declared a state of emergency for D.C. around the inauguration.
“Millions of our citizens watched on Wednesday as a mob stormed the Capitol and crashed the halls of government,” Trump said Tuesday. “As I’ve consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in protecting America’s history and traditions, not tearing them down. We believe in the rule of law, not in violence or rioting.”
His few public comments in the days following the attack have drifted away from the relatively supportive remarks he made as his supporters stormed the Capitol. At the time, he released a video statement calling the rioters “special” and saying “we love you.” He also tweeted: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Trump was nominally in Alamo to tout his administration’s construction of border reinforcements — his cornerstone campaign promise from 2016. Trump has been performing a series of last-minute ceremonial and congratulatory acts in the twilight days of his administration, including awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his athletic heroes and to Rep. Jim Jordan. New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, turned down the Medal of Freedom Monday, citing the Capitol attack.