Reacting to the chaos and mayhem in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and members of President Trump’s Cabinet that calls for the removal of Trump via the 25th Amendment.
Despite the violence that engulfed the Capitol, Crist, in an exclusive interview with the Catalyst, has revealed that he has no plans to give up his seat in Congress for a run for mayor of St. Pete. Instead, he’s given his endorsement to Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch — “a good friend, a good man,” Crist said.
Expressing outrage over the Jan. 6 mayhem in and around the U.S. Capitol, Crist’s letter accuses Trump of using “seditious words” to inspire “armed insurrectionists” to stop the counting and certification of Electoral College votes that would confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in November’s general election.
Speaking with the Catalyst, Crist described the scene at the Capitol on Wednesday as a “nightmare.” He tried to get into his office in the Cannon House Office Building but it was being evacuated.
“We found out there had been a pipe bomb spotted right across the street,” he said. “I decided to go back to my apartment, and going down Independence Avenue, I saw this crowd coming from near the White House, where they had been together beforehand and just listened to the president tell them to fight and be strong and what have you. And then they were marching on the Capitol.”
Crist’s letter adds to a growing chorus of voices, even some on the Republican side of the aisle, to have Trump ousted from the presidency prior to the expiration of his term Jan. 20. The 25th Amendment gives Pence, if backed by a majority of the Cabinet, the power to sideline Trump and become acting president. The measure has been used sporadically over the years, but primarily when a sitting president undergoes a medical procedure that requires anesthesia, such as when, in 2002 and again in 2007, President George W. Bush was temporarily incapacitated during colonoscopies and transferred power to Vice President Dick Cheney.
“The president has successfully inspired American extremists to take violent actions in a despotic bid to cling to power,” Crist wrote. “The president took pleasure in the events … as he continued to stoke the violence with tweets and a video. The president is unfit and unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Crist told the Catalyst the actions of Trump and his supporters are “inexcusable and unconscionable … it cannot stand. Get him out now. This is not right vs. left — this is right vs. wrong.”
Despite less than two weeks remaining until Biden takes office, Crist wrote, allowing Trump to retain the “awesome powers” of the presidency is too great a risk to the country.
He “has the nuclear football, and is commander in chief of our military,” Crist wrote. “If allowed to remain in power, President Trump represents an unprecedented danger to the American people and our constitutional republic.”
Jan. 6 was a “wake-up call” for the country, Crist said. “You could see this coming, but [Trump] really lit the match. He knew what he was doing. He incited this. It’s all on him, and that’s why he needs to go — for the good of the country and, frankly, for the good of the world.”
Crist is uncertain whether he’ll attend Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. “I want to,” he said, “but we have to find out what the Biden Administration thinks is appropriate at this point. I will await what they have to say.”