Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have called for President Trump to be removed from office via the 25th Amendment.
"I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment," Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday. "If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment."
Pelosi said she does not expect they will wait long for Vice President Pence to respond. "It will be 'yes' or it will be 'no,'" she said.
The speaker said she hopes Pence would get back to legislative leaders by Thursday and that she and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer "have made our interest in this known" to the vice president.
Her remarks followed similar comments earlier in the day by Schumer.
"The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the vice president to immediately invoke the 25th amendment," Schumer said in a statement Thursday morning.
"If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president."
Schumer also gave a press conference at which he shared that he and Pelosi attempted to call Pence Thursday morning to tell him to invoke the 25th.
"They kept us on hold for 25 minutes and then said the vice president wouldn't come on the phone. So we are making this call public because he should do it and do it right away," he said.
Ex chief of staff supports
Later on Thursday afternoon, former White House chief of staff John Kelly said that he would support removing Trump from office if he were still in the Republican's cabinet.
"The Cabinet should meet and have a discussion. I don't think it'll happen, but I think the Cabinet should meet and discuss this," said Kelly, who also previously served as Trump's secretary of Homeland Security, during an interview with CNN.
"The behavior yesterday and in the weeks and months before that has just been outrageous from the president," Kelly said. "And what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds."
Invoking the 25th Amendment would require the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump from office. It was intended to be used if a president were unable to discharge the office because the chief executive had been badly hurt or incapacitated somehow — but not dead outright, in which case the vice president would step in.
The amendment has never been used in practice and is difficult to execute. It was intended as a legal mechanism for a crisis involving the president's physical condition and not as a political tool more like impeachment.
Calls for ouster follow violence
Pelosi and Schumer's comments come a day after Trump appeared at a rally at which he told supporters that the Nov. 3 presidential election "was stolen from you, from me, from the country." He urged the crowd to march to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers were meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win.
The pro-Trump extremists laid siege to the Capitol, bringing violence and destruction.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has been among the most outspoken Republican critics of the president, also called for Trump to be removed from office via the 25th Amendment.
"The president is unfit. The president is unwell," he said in a video statement.
It’s with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked. My statement: pic.twitter.com/yVyQrYcjuD— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 7, 2021
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., announced she is drafting articles of impeachment against Trump.
"Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate," wrote Omar. "We can't allow him to remain in office, it's a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath."
Such an attempt is unlikely to succeed, given that Trump's term ends in two weeks and Congress is currently not in session.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a reliable Trump ally, said that the president's actions the day before were "the problem, not the solution" but argued against invoking the 25th right now.
"I do not believe that's appropriate at this point. I'm looking for a peaceful transfer of power. I'm looking for the next 14 days to reset and we hand off power in a traditional sense, by it being a peaceful transfer," he told reporters.
But he later added: "Now, if something else happens, all options would be on the table."
Trump was impeached in 2019 by the House over accusations he tried to influence Ukraine to target Joe Biden's son, but in early 2020, Republicans used their majority in the Senate to keep him in office.