Calls grow for Trump's removal after Capitol riot

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:01 p.m. ET, February 8, 2021
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6:48 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Biden has no interest in opening impeachment proceedings

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 7 in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater on January 7 in Wilmington, Delaware. Susan Walsh/AP

President-elect Joe Biden has no appetite for opening an impeachment proceeding against President Trump, people familiar with the matter say Thursday, as he prefers to keep his focus on taking office in 13 days.

Sources who told CNN earlier Thursday he had no intention of weighing in on the 25th Amendment talks, they said he feels the same about impeachment.

It’s unclear whether Biden will weigh in himself – he declined to answer questions today, but might Friday – but he has made his views known that he doesn’t favor impeachment.

“Impeachment would not help unify this country,” a person close to Biden said, who added that “this is a matter to be decided by the Congress.” 

7:00 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Colin Powell dismisses calls to remove Trump as a "distraction"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks with CNN on Thursday, January 7.
Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks with CNN on Thursday, January 7. CNN

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed growing calls for invoking 25th Amendment or an impeachment of President Trump as a "distraction," saying lawmakers should instead be focused on a successful transition. 

"It really doesn't excite me," said the retired four-star general, when asked about removing Trump. "We've got about 13 days to go? Nothing will really happen in that 13-day period. Let's let it play out." 

Powell suggested the danger Trump presents to the country would mitigate itself on Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden assumes the presidency.

"I would not detour in different pieces of the Constitution we think would be helpful," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I just want him out... he's going to be out." 

"I think it would be a distraction right now," he added.

Despite his opposition to removing Trump by a constitutional mechanism, Powell still suggested he believes Trump is unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

"You can't not have concerns about his mental fitness when you see the way he behaves, the way he acts and the things he does," said Powell. 

Watch the moment:

6:45 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Pence has not discussed invoking 25th Amendment with any Cabinet members

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Clare Foran

Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6 in Washington, DC.
Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6 in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence has not discussed invoking the 25th Amendment with any Cabinet officials, an administration official tells CNN. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for invoking the 25th Amendment in a news conference today, and said that if that doesn’t happen, Congress may move to impeach President Trump. 

“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this President by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment that is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus and the American people," Pelosi said.

Remember: Invoking the 25th Amendment would require 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."

Any 25th Amendment push faces an unprecedented steep hill to come to fruition with little time left before Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. The calls in Congress, however, underscore the extent to which lawmakers are reeling and furious with the President in the wake of the devastation at the Capitol on Wednesday.

6:36 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

US Capitol Police chief is resigning

From CNN's Manu Raju

Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/AP Images
Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/AP Images

US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning, according to a US Capitol Police official, after facing criticism over an apparent lack of preparedness to deal with Wednesday's violent mob on Capitol Hill.

Sund's resignation is effective Jan. 16, according to a Capitol Police official.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today called for Sund's resignation and said the House Sergeant at Arms has told her he is submitting his resignation as well.

Pelosi made her comments during her weekly news conference, and follows Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying he would fire the current Senate Sergeant-at-Arms when he becomes majority leader. 

"If Senate Sergeant Arms [Michael] Stenger hasn't vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate," Schumer said in a statement.

6:14 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

FAA warns fliers against "unruly behavior" after several incidents involving Trump supporters

From CNN's Pete Muntean

As some Trump supporters leave Washington, DC, after yesterday’s attack on the Capitol, the Federal Aviation Administration is warning fliers not to act up. 

“Unruly behavior on an airplane may violate federal law,” the FAA posted in a travel alert on Twitter, warning of a possible $35,000 fine. “Always follow crew instructions.”

The warning comes after social media posts of pro-Trump passengers flying to Washington, DC, shouting down fellow passengers, flight attendants struggling to enforce mask rules, and other Trump supporters harassing GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in an airport terminal. 

On Wednesday, the head of the largest association of flight attendants said that those who participated in the assault on the Capitol should be banned from commercial flights. CNN observed a ramped up police presence at Reagan National Airport, but the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports no arrests on Thursday at Reagan or Dulles.

6:08 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump asking aides and lawyers about self-pardon power

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Jeremy Diamond

Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images
Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump has been asking aides and lawyers, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, about his self-pardon power, multiple sources tell CNN.

Some of those conversations have happened in recent weeks, one of the sources said. It is unclear if it has come up since the mayhem at the Capitol building yesterday fomented by the President’s rhetoric or after his recent controversial call with the Georgia secretary of state. Trump has asked about the legal and political consequences of a self-pardon, according to a source close to the President. 

He has also asked for legal opinions on whether he has the authority to issue a self-pardon and has been advised on the potential political fallout. This person said it was not yet clear whether the President would follow through with a pardon for himself.

Another person said it is not in the works in the White House counsel's office currently but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel is not currently reviewing the matter. 

CNN has previously reported Trump has been asking aides since 2017 about his self-pardon power and has been “obsessed” with the idea. Recently, Trump allies such as Sean Hannity on Fox have suggested publicly that he should. Trump has also tweeted that he believes he has the power to do so. 

A presidential self-pardon is untested and experts are divided on its constitutionality. A Justice Department legal memo says the President cannot pardon himself but he can step down and ask his vice president to take over and pardon him. However, that memo is not binding.

6:10 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

850 National Guard members will work in 12-hour shifts to secure Capitol grounds 

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

DC National Guard guardsmen stand outside the Capitol on January 7 in Washington, DC.
DC National Guard guardsmen stand outside the Capitol on January 7 in Washington, DC. John Moore/Getty Images

As 6,200 members of the National Guard arrive in Washington, DC, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said they would be used in 12-hour shifts, with 850 of them on Capitol grounds at a time, while others work traffic control points throughout the city.

The National Guard members, which will arrive from Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC units, are deployed for a minimum of 30 days, and they are expected to fully arrive during the weekend.

They will help erect a 7-foot non-scalable fence around the Capitol grounds as well as help support security in the area, working with other agencies and law enforcement. 

Speaking on a call with reporters, McCarthy said the rules and use of force would also be reviewed ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, which is seen as the next major milestone — and potential target — as the transition of power moves forward.

"We'll potentially make adjustments accordingly," McCarthy said of the rules and use of force. National Guard members were deployed Wednesday with protective gear and riot equipment, but without any weapons, whether lethal or non-lethal.

"We are singularly focused on putting a plan in place that we have the adequate level of capability to support this next extraordinary milestone of the transfer of power on the 20th of January,” McCarthy added.  

At the moment, McCarthy said there was 741 National Guard members on Capitol grounds, with another 93 working across 31 checkpoints to control traffic into the area. McCarthy said he has been in constant communication with Congressional leadership and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

McCarthy began the call by condemning the violence and riots, "Yesterday was a horrible and shameful day here in the Capitol and the nation at large. The District of Columbia asked for the Army to help and the National Guard responded."


5:46 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Trump cancels planned trip to Camp David this weekend

From Kate Bennett, Pete Muntean, and Betsy Klein

President Trump has canceled plans to travel to Camp David on Friday, according to a source familiar with the plans. 

Earlier Thursday a White House official told CNN that the President had planned to be away for the weekend, and a temporary flight restriction from the Federal Aviation Administration had been in place over the presidential retreat beginning Friday — meaning civilian aircraft are directed not to fly over the area. 

A separate source familiar with the President’s schedule says this trip to Camp David was on Trump's calendar, prior to Wednesday's siege of the US Capitol. 

5:44 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021

Democratic senator fears Trump may get the US "into some sort of conflict" in his last days

Senator Chris Coons testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Senator Chris Coons testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, fears that President Trump may put the US in a precarious position during his last days in office.

"After the events of yesterday, all of us have to step back and pause and say what else is President Trump capable of in the remaining 13 days of his presidency?" Coons told CNN this afternoon. "My concern would be that President Trump would get us into some sort of conflict in his last 13 days that would then leave President-elect Biden not only with the challenge of responding to a pandemic, but getting us out of or unwinding an unplanned and unnecessary and needlessly disruptive conflict somewhere in the world."

Coons remarks come after White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany walked into the briefing room and made no apology for the President's behavior, or his rhetoric, or his administration, in the wake of the riot Wednesday at Capitol Hill.