Following Wednesday’s violent conflict at the U.S. Capitol that saw a woman shot to death and several others dead of medical emergencies, teams of political science academics and students have begun circulating open letters urging President Donald Trump be immediately removed from office.
The letter from academics, initially circulated by Dartmouth Political Science Professor Brendan Nyhan, asks the administration to utilize the 25th Amendment or Congress to invoke articles of impeachment to “immediately remove President Donald J. Trump from office.”
“The President’s actions threaten American democracy,” the letter from the political scientists reads. “He has rejected the peaceful transfer of power, encouraged state legislators to overturn election results in their states, pressured a state official to change election results, and now incited a violent mob that shut down the counting of electoral votes and stormed the U.S. Capitol,” the letter reads.
“Our profession seeks to understand politics, not engage in it, but we share a commitment to democratic values,” the academics say. “The President’s actions show he is unwilling or unable to fulfill his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. He should be removed from office immediately before further violence takes place or further damage is done to our democracy,” the letter continues.
More than 1,000 political scientists have signed the letter to date.
Earlier in the day om Wednesday, thousands of pro-Trump activists gathered in Washington D.C. to protest certification of the Electoral College votes which show Trump lost in November, and which the president has repeatedly said he believes are fraudulent.
As the Senate began certifying the votes, Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, vandalizing offices, smashing windows, and taking valuable artifacts. In a speech earlier in the day, Trump had encouraged the crowd to keep fighting, telling them “to try and give [Congress] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Three hours after the violence broke out, Trump addressed his supporters, saying, “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.”
But the message also continued to justify his supporters’ actions by claiming the election was stolen. “We love you,” Trump said. “You’re very special.”
Later in the day, University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Professor Kenneth Mayer penned an op-ed for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which he called the Capitol invasion a “coup attempt,” an “insurrection,” and “sedition.”
“It will take decades to undo this damage,” writes Mayer, adding, “You must choose: either democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution — or Trump.”
The events of the day also mobilized political science students, over 1,000 of which have now signed a letter of their own calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office.
“As students and scholars of political science, we do not typically seek to engage in politics, instead our aim is to study and understand it,” the letter from the students reads. “However, we share a commitment, along with those more senior to us in the field of political science, to protect our democratic values.”
“The President’s behavior shows that he is, as phrased in the open letter from political science faculty around the country, either ‘unwilling or unable to fulfill his oath to protect and defend the Constitution,’” the students’ letter continues. “Therefore, we second the request by more senior political scientists that he should be immediately removed from office before the political violence in the United States escalates or our democracy suffers additional and irreparable harm.”
The calls for Trump’s removal were not limited to academics and students. As of Wednesday night, 84 Congressional Democrats said they supported efforts to remove Trump either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment.
The calls also came from groups that had traditionally been friendly to Trump. “Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy,” urged Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday.
Early on Thursday morning, the House of Representatives finished counting the ballots and confirmed president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.