Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday that if he were a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet he would support using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the President from office following a deadly riot at the US Capitol.
“Yes, I would,” Kelly told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” when asked if he would be in support of invoking the amendment if he had a vote.
The comments from Kelly, who left the White House under contentious circumstances in January 2019, come as a growing list of Democratic and Republican members of Congress are calling for Trump to be removed from office either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday.
They also represent one of the strongest rebukes of Trump from a former member of his White House amid the fallout from Wednesday’s riot. Invoking the 25th Amendment would require Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove Trump from office due to his inability to “discharge the powers and duties of his office” – an unprecedented step.
“I think that the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion. I don’t think that it’ll happen, but I think the Cabinet should meet and discuss this because the behavior yesterday and in the weeks and months before that has just been outrageous from the President,” said Kelly, who has occasionally criticized Trump since leaving his post.
“What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds,” he added.
Kelly, who has mostly maintained a low profile since leaving the White House, told Tapper that he was “horrified” by the violent scene.
“Just an unbelievable scene at the Capitol. Frankly, the President’s actions and words didn’t surprise me at all, but I was very, very surprised that those people would assault the people’s house, do the damage they did and embarrass us all,” he said, referring to the pro-Trump mob.
Kelly also pushed back on comments made by his successor, Mick Mulvaney, who resigned on Wednesday from a diplomatic post he had in the administration, saying Trump is not the same as he was several months ago.
“I don’t think he’s changed one little bit,” Kelly said when asked about the comments. “Of course, he is enraged because he’s lost an election. He is a laughingstock now and he is striking it up. But again, someone needs to help, you know, manage him.”
In addition to Mulvaney, several other officials have resigned from the administration in protest of Wednesday’s riot and Trump’s reaction to it, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, one of the longest-serving members of Trump’s Cabinet who will officially leave her post on Monday.
Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Matt Pottinger, is also among the people who have left the government, as is the first lady’s chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a press aide and the White House social secretary.
This story has been updated with more from the interview.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.