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Calls for Trump’s removal from office grow louder across the political spectrum

Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, is among a growing number of lawmakers calling for President Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, or for Congress to impeach him again, and this time convict him. She joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat from Pennsylvania, is one of a growing number of lawmakers calling for President Trump's Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove him from office, or for Congress to impeach him again, and this time convict him.

    She's a member of the Judiciary Committee, and she joins us now from Washington.

    Congresswoman Dean, thank you so much for joining us.

    And before I ask you about that, I do want to ask how you are. We saw your own tweets and those of your son yesterday while you were in hiding. It was such — it seemed like such a deeply harrowing experience.

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    Thank you for asking.

    And I am fine. I am well. I am safe. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my family was so worried. I'm sorry that staff was put at peril and risk. I'm sad for our country that yesterday's disgraceful actions took place.

    But I am fine. And, if anything, Judy, I am more determined than ever to make differences to the good.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And why is that? What was it about yesterday that gives you that determination?

  • Madeleine Dean:

    You know, we saw — in the morning, we saw the president at a rally at the White House, what I think of as lighting a fuse, a fuse that was built along lies and disinformation that he spewed for the last four-plus years and that others, both in the legislature, the House, and the Senate, contributed to and in his administration.

    It made me so sad to sit in — I was in the gallery at the time of all the insurrection and the attempted coup. It made me so sad for our country.

    But I will tell you, over the course of the hours of the day, I and everybody else was determined to get back into that chamber that had been so violently pierced, that — I call it a cathedral of our democracy. I was so determined to get back there and finish our civic duty and make sure that we certified the election of Joe Biden, which we did.

    Judy Woodruff And now we see, Congresswoman Dean, you and I — as of now, I see 50-some other Democrats in the House calling on the president to be removed by the 25th Amendment or by impeachment.

    But when it comes to the 25th Amendment, what's — what's — is that something that you think is realistic? I mean, why focus on that at this point?

  • Madeleine Dean:

    Well, if I think of the 25th Amendment and the invoking of it, I can think of no worse scenario that would call upon us, demand us, command us to invoke the 25th Amendment.

    He is unable, unfit to discharge his duties as president, as horrifically evidenced yesterday. What more do we need? He put this democracy — he has over time put this democracy at peril.

    Last night on the floor, in defending the Pennsylvania slate of electors, all of the Pennsylvania delegation had a chance to make very eloquent arguments.

    But I chose to quote the words of John Lewis. He said that democracy is not a state. It is an act. What we do as citizens, elected or otherwise, the acts that we take to build our democracy matter.

    And what this president has done was the exact opposite. He's working to tear down our democracy. He is a threat to our peaceful existence. And the world is watching.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, at this point, given there are just 13 — 12, 13 days left in his time as president, I guess my question is, is it realistic?

    We're hearing — we just heard our Yamiche Alcindor reporting the vice president leaning against invoking the 25th Amendment. If you don't have him on board, more than half the Cabinet, you can't get it done. That means you would be talking about Congress impeaching.

    We know what a long, drawn-out process that is.

  • Madeleine Dean:

    Well, we know that we're very handicapped by the failed leadership of this administration.

    Vice President Pence has been close up to this administration and knows better than you and I how unfit this president is. In fact, we also have the complication of a Cabinet that is in disarray. People are jumping ship. Many of them are not confirmed by the Senate.

    But the Congress can play a role in invoking the 25th Amendment, if only we had some leadership from Vice President Pence. But what you heard from Speaker Pelosi today was, there are other tools at our disposal, emergency, urgent tools, break-the-glass tools like impeach this president again.

    We can move with greater speed. I'm still here in D.C. I'm hoping we will be called back into session very, very quickly to move forward with either the 25th Amendment or impeachment. If not, I don't know the legal possibility — the possibility of both.

    This man is an extraordinary, grave threat to our democracy. I have to tell you how terrifying yesterday was, terrifying for us as a nation, not so much terrifying for me. It didn't seem quite real, even though it was quite real, when they pierced the chamber of the House.

    But it was terrifying for our nation. The threat is now. It is urgent. It is past due. I call upon Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Failing that, we should immediately impeach.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What is your fear that the president might do between now and January 20?

  • Madeleine Dean:

    Well, I never imagined, Judy, frankly, yesterday.

    We all imagined disruption and chaos and protests. But, clearly, that was not protest. It would be wrong to call it that. That was insurrection. That was an attempted coup incited by the president.

    The president has responsibilities and relationships or failed relationships around the globe. So, I worry, internationally, what mischief he might cause. Certainly, I worry about his pardon power. He's irresponsibly invoked it already. This man is desperate.

    He knows that he is criminally liable in many other places when he walks out that door. So, I don't even want to think of the nightmare scenarios of the havoc he could wreak. He's already wreaked great havoc in our institutions, in our law enforcement, in the Department of Justice.

    There's much, much more damage he can do at his fingertips. We need to move swiftly.

    And we — I'm calling upon my colleagues in the House, our colleagues in the Senate, Vice President Pence, and this Cabinet, do what is right for this country. Protect our democracy. It's precious. It's fragile. It's up to us.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What do you see — how do you see the culpability of Republicans in the Congress who are supporting this president, who went so far in last few days to object to Joe Biden's electoral vote success?

  • Madeleine Dean:

    Thanks for asking me that.

    I have tried really to process it, Judy. Over the course — I have been in Congress just one term, just beginning my second, and, of course, served on Judiciary through impeachment and so many other important pieces of legislation. I have tried to process it.

    So, yesterday, as I went into the chamber a little after 1:00 in the afternoon and the arguments began around Arizona, I stood there almost with my hand over my mouth, hearing their arguments that were so false, and they know it. They were willingly spewing untruths, stoking fear, stoking ignorance, smearing others.

    And all I could say — and I stood next to my colleague Dean Phillips, and I said, shame. And I heard him say, shame. And we said, shame, shame. That's before the insurrection, before the attempted coup.

    I do not understand my colleagues. One thing I read about was Margaret Chase Smith. If you remember, she was an important figure, a Republican congresswoman, who stood up during the McCarthy era. And she called upon her — and I'm going to paraphrase this — she called about her Republican colleagues and said, you can't search for victory, political victory, by riding the four horsemen of calumny.

    She called them fear and ignorance and bigotry and smear. You can't want to ride to victory on that four horsemen.

    That's what I say to my Republican colleagues. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to sell your soul for political victory? I call upon them to reject that and shed that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, thank you very much.

  • Madeleine Dean:

    Thank you, Judy.

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