Quoting Ecclesiastes, Vice President Mike Pence urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reach above vindictiveness as he firmly rejected her demand that Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from office.
The 25th Amendment allows the vice president, working with a president’s Cabinet, to remove a president who is no longer able to perform the functions of the office.
Congressional Democrats seized upon the 25th Amendment as a way to swiftly remove Trump in the waning days of his administration after last week’s Capitol incursion. On Tuesday, the House voted 223-205 to urge Pence to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment, according to The New York Times.
Pence suggested in his letter that America needs its leaders to act for greater motives than political calculation and personal vendettas.
“Every American was shocked and saddened by the attack on our Nation’s Capitol last week, and I am grateful for the leadership that you and other congressional leaders provided in reconvening Congress to complete the people’s business on the very same day. It was a moment that demonstrated to the American people the unity that is still possible in Congress when it is needed most,” Pence wrote.
Pence noted that “unity” did not last very long.
“But now, with just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment. I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he wrote.
Pence said he would not violate the Constitution when Trump wanted him to unilaterally block the Electoral College votes of states in which Trump claimed there was fraud, and he would not do so now.
“Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation,” he wrote.
Pence said the 25th Amendment does not apply in this situation, something he said Pelosi knew was true.
“As you know full well, the 25th Amendment was designed to address Presidential incapacity or disability. Just a few months ago, when you introduced legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, you said, ‘[a] President’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts.’ You said then that we must be ‘[v]ery respectful of not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like, but based on a medical decision,’” Pence wrote.
“Madam Speaker, you were right. Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent,” he said.
Many praised Pence’s response.
Pence said the time has come to move past last week, and turn to the future.
“After the horrific events of this last week, our Administration’s energy is directed to ensuring an orderly transition,” he wrote.
“The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven … a time to heal, … and a time to build up.’ That time is now. In the midst of a global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6th, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal,” he added.
As the House moves closer to impeaching Trump, Pence said the nation needs peace, not partisanship.
“I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment. Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States,” he wrote.
“I pledge to you that I will continue to do my part to work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power. So help me God.”