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Sen. King backs impeachment effort

King: "Donald Trump’s campaign to undermine our democratic system is the single most irresponsible act ever committed by a United States President in our history."
Credit: AP

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Maine Independent Sen. Angus King on Tuesday said he will officially back the effort to remove President Donald Trump from office, citing Trump's "dangerous rhetoric" in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

King, who caucuses with the Democrats, argues that national unity cannot be achieved by ignoring assaults on the democratic system. 

“I agree that unifying our country to move forward together must be our highest priority – but I also believe that any effort to build national unity cannot simply paper over assaults on our democratic systems and the lies that made them possible," King said in part. "To put our nation on the path towards healing, we must tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. Let’s start with this clear and obvious fact: Donald Trump’s campaign to undermine our democratic system is the single most irresponsible act ever committed by a United States President in our history. He must be held accountable.”

RELATED: King blames Trump for rioters' assault on Capitol, calls out Republican colleagues in '60 Minutes' interview

In the days following the insurrection, countless Democrats in Congress, including Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, and a handful of Republicans have called for Trump's removal, either by invoking the 25th Amendment or by impeachment. Republican Sen. Susan Collins has not commented on impeachment, "because of the Senate's constitutional role in those proceedings, which includes sitting as a jury," her office said.

King initially merely suggested Vice President Mike Pence consider invoking the 25th Amendment but has now made his stance clear: "President Trump should be immediately removed from office – either through his own resignation, the 25th Amendment, or, if necessary, impeachment."

King's full statement:

“For the past nine weeks, in the midst of a pandemic costing thousands of lives each day, President Donald Trump has focused his energy on a baseless, dangerous effort to undermine the results of a democratically-held election. These blatant lies, amplified by Congressional enablers who seemed all-too-willing to neglect their oath for short-term political gain, have caused millions of Americans to lose faith in our elections – the beating heart of our democratic system. This crisis built until January 6th, when President Trump incited a frenzied crowd to head to the Capitol to ‘fight much harder’ and ‘show strength,’ while his top surrogate in this effort, Rudy Giuliani, took to the same stage to call for ‘trial by combat.’ A short time later, the crowd followed their marching orders by invading the Capitol brandishing zip ties, using the American flag on a flagpole as a weapon, and leading to several deaths – including at least one Capitol Police Officer. 

Even this morning, the President refused to acknowledge the severity of last week’s events or his role in fomenting the attack. This pursuit of personal gain over the good of the American people isn’t particularly surprising to anyone who has watched Donald Trump operate over the last several decades, but it is unprecedented behavior from anyone who has occupied the Oval Office. After the events of January 6th, it is more clear than ever that President Trump poses a danger to the Republic, and that if he is allowed to remain in office for the next eight days, this intemperate and impulsive person could use his powers in ways that further jeopardize our national security and the safety of the American people. That is why President Trump should be immediately removed from office – either through his own resignation, the 25th Amendment, or, if necessary, impeachment. 

Many of my Republican colleagues who have spent the last two months undermining the results of a free and fair election are now trying to reject any conversation of impeachment by wrapping themselves in the cloak of unity. It is, frankly, absurd; as if they themselves lit a fire and then sought a firefighter’s protective suit as blowback puts them in peril. The validity of the 2020 election has been supported by the President’s hand-picked Attorney General, the nation’s election security agency, and election officials in each of the nation’s 50 states – but even with this clear knowledge, 8 Senate Republicans and nearly 140 House Republicans voted to object to the will of American voters. Even worse: they cast these votes after the President’s supporters assaulted the Capitol. They saw firsthand the harmful consequences of their lies, but they kept telling them. That is shameful.

I agree that unifying our country to move forward together must be our highest priority – but I also believe that any effort to build national unity cannot simply paper over assaults on our democratic systems and the lies that made them possible. To put our nation on the path towards healing, we must tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. Let’s start with this clear and obvious fact: Donald Trump’s campaign to undermine our democratic system is the single most irresponsible act ever committed by a United States President in our history. He must be held accountable.”