Calls grow for Trump's removal after Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:01 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021
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8:13 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Pelosi and Schumer tried calling Pence to urge him to consider invoking 25th Amendment

From CNN's Phil Mattingly 

Getty Images
Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to reach out to Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday to urge him to consider invoking the 25th Amendment to force President Trump's removal from office.

The Democrats issued a statement detailing their phone call attempt to Pence, whom they were unable to connect with.

Read their statement:

“This morning, we placed a call to Vice President Pence to urge him to invoke the 25th Amendment which would allow the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the President for his incitement of insurrection and the danger he still poses. We have not yet heard back from the vice president.
The President’s dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office. We look forward to hearing from the vice president as soon as possible and to receiving a positive answer as to whether he and the Cabinet will honor their oath to the Constitution and the American people.”

8:37 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump's CIA director and intel chief unlikely to resign over response to violence at Capitol

From CNN's Zachary Cohen

CIA director Gina Haspel arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on January 29, 2019 in Washington DC. 
CIA director Gina Haspel arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on January 29, 2019 in Washington DC.  Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA director Gina Haspel is not currently expected to resign from her post in response to President Trump’s handling of Wednesday’s violence at the US Capitol, according to a source familiar with the situation, who told CNN there is no indication, at this time, that she intends to step down before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office, according to a source familiar with the situation.  

Haspel’s relationship with Trump has deteriorated in recent months and CNN previously reported that she was on thin ice as the President has considered firing her during his final months in office. But the source told CNN that at this time, it is unlikely Haspel will resign, the source said. 

While the situation involving Trump’s Cabinet continues to evolve after the resignation of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the source told CNN that, for now, Haspel intends to stay in her role to help oversee the CIA’s ongoing operations and a smooth transition process. The CIA declined to comment on Haspel’s plans. 

Some background: There have been calls for other Cabinet members to follow Chao’s lead amid bipartisan criticism of Trump’s response to the violence. But some of Trump’s top national security officials have received calls within the last 24 hours urging them not to resign following his widely panned response to the mob attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

The message: it is important they stay on for the continuity of government in the national security realm.

Haspel has kept a relatively low profile since the election. Sources have consistently said Haspel prefers to remain as CIA director until Inauguration Day and step down on her own terms when the new administration takes over.

As of Thursday, it appears Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is also unlikely to resign. 

At this stage, it remains unclear if Ratcliffe has been involved in any discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment but a source familiar with the issue, told CNN Trump’s intelligence chief is well aware that a growing list of Congressional lawmakers are calling on the Cabinet to take that step.

 

10:30 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Capitol Police officer on life support after pro-Trump riot, union official says

From CNN's Kristin Wilson, Evan Perez and David Brooks

A Capitol Police officer is on life support Thursday night after a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol a day before, according to Capitol Police union chair Gus Papathanasiou.

CNN reported Thursday evening, citing three sources, that the officer had died. One of CNN's sources said that Capitol Police officers were gathered and told that the officer had passed away.

Papathanasiou told WUSA — a local Washington, DC, television news station— that the officer died. Later Thursday, the Capitol Police released a statement stating no officers had died as a result of Wednesday's riot.

Papathanasiou retracted his statement to WUSA and told CNN the officer was still on life support.

"He had a stroke. I think he's on life support. We've got some misinformation on that. He's on life support from what I'm hearing," Papathanasiou told CNN.

One woman was shot and killed by Capitol Police as the crowd breached the building and three others suffered medical emergencies that proved fatal.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that the officer is on life support. 

6:48 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Biden has no interest in opening impeachment proceedings

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 7 in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 7 in Wilmington, Delaware. Susan Walsh/AP

President-elect Joe Biden has no appetite for opening an impeachment proceeding against President Trump, people familiar with the matter say Thursday, as he prefers to keep his focus on taking office in 13 days.

Sources who told CNN earlier Thursday he had no intention of weighing in on the 25th Amendment talks, they said he feels the same about impeachment.

It’s unclear whether Biden will weigh in himself – he declined to answer questions today, but might Friday – but he has made his views known that he doesn’t favor impeachment.

“Impeachment would not help unify this country,” a person close to Biden said, who added that “this is a matter to be decided by the Congress.” 

7:00 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Colin Powell dismisses calls to remove Trump as a "distraction"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks with CNN on Thursday, January 7.
Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks with CNN on Thursday, January 7. CNN

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed growing calls for invoking 25th Amendment or an impeachment of President Trump as a "distraction," saying lawmakers should instead be focused on a successful transition. 

"It really doesn't excite me," said the retired four-star general, when asked about removing Trump. "We've got about 13 days to go? Nothing will really happen in that 13-day period. Let's let it play out." 

Powell suggested the danger Trump presents to the country would mitigate itself on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden assumes the presidency.

"I would not detour in different pieces of the Constitution we think would be helpful," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I just want him out... he's going to be out." 

"I think it would be a distraction right now," he added.

Despite his opposition to removing Trump by a constitutional mechanism, Powell still suggested he believes Trump is unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

"You can't not have concerns about his mental fitness when you see the way he behaves, the way he acts and the things he does," said Powell. 

Watch the moment:

6:45 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Pence has not discussed invoking 25th Amendment with any Cabinet members

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Clare Foran

Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6 in Washington, DC.
Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6 in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence has not discussed invoking the 25th Amendment with any Cabinet officials, an administration official tells CNN. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for invoking the 25th Amendment in a news conference today, and said that if that doesn’t happen, Congress may move to impeach President Trump. 

“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this President by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment that is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus and the American people," Pelosi said.

Remember: Invoking the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump from office due to his inability to "discharge the powers and duties of his office."

Any 25th Amendment push faces an unprecedented steep hill to come to fruition with little time left before Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. The calls in Congress, however, underscore the extent to which lawmakers are reeling and furious with the President in the wake of the devastation at the Capitol on Wednesday.

6:36 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US Capitol Police chief is resigning

From CNN's Manu Raju

Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/AP Images

US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning, according to a US Capitol Police official, after facing criticism over an apparent lack of preparedness to deal with Wednesday's violent mob on Capitol Hill.

Sund's resignation is effective Jan. 16, according to a Capitol Police official.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today called for Sund's resignation and said the House Sergeant at Arms has told her he is submitting his resignation as well.

Pelosi made her comments during her weekly news conference, and follows Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying he would fire the current Senate Sergeant-at-Arms when he becomes majority leader. 

"If Senate Sergeant Arms [Michael] Stenger hasn't vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate," Schumer said in a statement.

6:14 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

FAA warns fliers against "unruly behavior" after several incidents involving Trump supporters

From CNN's Pete Muntean

As some Trump supporters leave Washington, DC, after yesterday’s attack on the Capitol, the Federal Aviation Administration is warning fliers not to act up. 

“Unruly behavior on an airplane may violate federal law,” the FAA posted in a travel alert on Twitter, warning of a possible $35,000 fine. “Always follow crew instructions.”

The warning comes after social media posts of pro-Trump passengers flying to Washington, DC, shouting down fellow passengers, flight attendants struggling to enforce mask rules, and other Trump supporters harassing GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in an airport terminal. 

On Wednesday, the head of the largest association of flight attendants said that those who participated in the assault on the Capitol should be banned from commercial flights. CNN observed a ramped up police presence at Reagan National Airport, but the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports no arrests on Thursday at Reagan or Dulles.

6:08 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump asking aides and lawyers about self-pardon power

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Jeremy Diamond

Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images
Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump has been asking aides and lawyers, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, about his self-pardon power, multiple sources tell CNN.

Some of those conversations have happened in recent weeks, one of the sources said. It is unclear if it has come up since the mayhem at the Capitol building yesterday fomented by the President’s rhetoric or after his recent controversial call with the Georgia secretary of state. Trump has asked about the legal and political consequences of a self-pardon, according to a source close to the President. 

He has also asked for legal opinions on whether he has the authority to issue a self-pardon and has been advised on the potential political fallout. This person said it was not yet clear whether the President would follow through with a pardon for himself.

Another person said it is not in the works in the White House counsel's office currently but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel is not currently reviewing the matter. 

CNN has previously reported Trump has been asking aides since 2017 about his self-pardon power and has been “obsessed” with the idea. Recently, Trump allies such as Sean Hannity on Fox have suggested publicly that he should. Trump has also tweeted that he believes he has the power to do so. 

A presidential self-pardon is untested and experts are divided on its constitutionality. A Justice Department legal memo says the President cannot pardon himself but he can step down and ask his vice president to take over and pardon him. However, that memo is not binding.