WASHINGTON — Former Attorney General William Barr on Thursday accused President Trump of betraying his office and “orchestrating a mob” to attack Congress in a sharp rebuke of his former boss.
“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable. The President’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters,” Barr said in a statement to the Associated Press.
It comes as members of the GOP begin to break rank and turn on the president in the wake of the violent siege on the US Capitol which left one woman shot dead and dozens injured.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Thursday became the first Republican to call for Trump to be removed via the 25th Amendment.
In a video released on Twitter which has so far been viewed 2.7 million times, Kinzinger, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, held Trump entirely accountable for the ugly episode.
“Here’s the truth: the president caused this. The president is unfit and the president is unwell. And the president must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntarily,” said Kinzinger, a frequent critic of Trump.
“All indications are that the president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, nor even his oath, but from reality itself,” Kinzinger continued.
“It’s for this reason that I call for the vice president and members of the cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people and that we have a sane captain for the ship,” he said.
“Until the president is able to himself, it’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment and to end this nightmare.”
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment says a president can be involuntarily stripped of his powers if he’s unable to fulfill his duties.
It would allow Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump’s cabinet members to vote to install Pence as the commander in chief.
According to various reports, some cabinet members have begun discussing this but it’s unclear whether they would take such a dramatic step with only two weeks remaining in Trump’s presidency.
Dozens of Democrats have already called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and on Thursday morning were circulating drafted articles of impeachment.
Thousands of the president’s supporters rushed to the Capitol on Wednesday after attending a rally outside the White House where Trump delivered a fiery speech claiming the election had been stolen from him.
“We will never concede,” Trump told the cheering crowd. “You don’t concede when there’s theft.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” he said.
“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” he went on.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who will soon be named majority leader, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Thursday also called on Trump’s Cabinet to remove him from office.
In a statement, Schumer said the attack on the Capitol “was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president.” He added, “This president should not hold office one day longer.”
Schumer said Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Trump from office. He added, “If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”
Pelosi called for his immediate ouster. “If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” Pelosi threatened.
The Republican Party — once unconditionally loyal to Trump — dramatically split from the president on Wednesday during a joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the president of spreading “sweeping conspiracy theories” and rejected the effort to overturn the election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s closest allies on the Hill, also declared “enough is enough” when the Senate returned to finish their work after the violent melee.
Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement officer and one of Trump’s most loyal cabinet members, resigned his post at the head of the Justice Department last month as Trump ratcheted up pressure on Barr to investigate his political enemies.
Several White House staffers, including former press secretary Stephanie Grisham and former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, also handed in their resignations overnight following the Capitol chaos.