As the California Democrat walked CBS's Lesley Stahl through her vandalized office, she again urged Vice President Mike Pence to remove President Donald Trump from office under the 25th Amendment - and promised that Congress will pursue impeachment if he does not.
"Sadly, the person that's running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States," Pelosi said. ". . . He has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him."
Pelosi made the case for impeachment as House Democrats are divided over the move, with some citing concerns that it could interfere with President-elect Joe Biden's early push to take immediate action on the pandemic and a foundering economy.
Speaking to "60 Minutes," Pelosi said she would prefer that Trump be removed through the 25th Amendment, which "gets rid of him" immediately. "He's out of office," Pelosi added. The amendment allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president if he's unable to fulfill his duties.
Impeachment would take longer, and it's uncertain how a Senate trial would play out. But Pelosi said that impeachment and conviction would serve as a just punishment and could prevent Trump from running for office again.
"That's one of the motivations that people have for advocating for impeachment," Pelosi said.
Another reason for the urgency, Pelosi said, would be to prevent Trump from pardoning "these people who are terrorists on the Capitol."
Pelosi said her demands for Trump's removal are informed by her own terrifying experience during the riots. The speaker told Stahl that her security detail swiftly removed her from the House chamber and rushed her to a safe location.
"I think [it] was universally accepted that what happened was a terrible, terrible violation," Pelosi said, pausing for what appeared to be an emotional moment, " . . . of the Capitol, of the first branch of government, the legislative branch, by the president of the United States."
Pelosi showed Stahl where the rioters broke down her office door and shattered an antique mirror, scattering glass. The mob stole computers and rustled through documents. One man sat at a desk, which has since been removed, and "defamed" it, Pelosi said, posing for pictures while leaning back in the chair and resting his boot on the desk.
That man has since been identified as 60-year-old Richard Barnett of Gravette, Ark. He was arrested Friday and charged with three counts of entering restricted grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct at the Capitol and theft of public property, prosecutors said.
As the vandals wreaked havoc through Pelosi's office, her staff members remained hidden under a table, listening as the mob called out for them and their boss.
"They were vocally saying, 'Where's the speaker? We know she has staff. They're here someplace. We're going to find them,' " Pelosi told Stahl.
"The evidence is now that - that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction," the speaker added. "And the direction was to go get people."
The FBI has confirmed that agents are investigating whether some rioters stormed the Capitol with the intent to kill lawmakers or take hostages.
Once the Capitol was clear, lawmakers returned to work to confirm Biden's victory. But many Republican lawmakers stuck with their original plan to challenge election results in some states that Trump lost, making baseless claims of mass fraud. Pelosi condemned those lawmakers, which included two-thirds of the House's Republican caucus.
"These people are enablers of the president's behavior," Pelosi said. "I remember when Republicans in the Senate went to see Richard Nixon and said, 'It's over.' That's what has to happen now."
Pelosi also reiterated that Trump's actions were so grave that he deserves severe punishment.
"This president is guilty of inciting insurrection," Pelosi said. "He has to pay a price for that."
Published : January 11, 2021
By : The Washington Post · Jaclyn Peiser