Seven ASU faculty members sign letter demanding removal of President Trump

The open letter calls on Vice President Mike Pence, US Congress and the Cabinet to immediately remove Trump from office

On Thursday afternoon, seven ASU faculty members joined university professors from around the country in co-signing an open letter calling for Vice President Mike Pence, the U.S. Congress and the Cabinet to remove President Donald Trump from office.

The letter comes after rioting Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday as an act of insurrection and interfered with Congress' counting of the electoral college ballots.

"We, the undersigned political scientists, call on the U.S. Congress, Vice President Mike Pence, and the Cabinet to immediately remove President Donald J. Trump from office through the impeachment process or by invoking the 25th Amendment," the letter stated.

ASU faculty members Heather Smith-Cannoy, Cameron Thies, Scott Barclay, Audrey Comstock, Paul G. Lewis, Brian J. Gerber and Irasema Coronado co-signed the open letter alongside hundreds of faculty from universities across the nation.

In an email to The State Press, Smith-Cannoy said she signed the letter out of the importance of speaking out "against Trump inciting a riot that threatens our democracy." 

"Democracy is fragile and his (Trump's) actions yesterday demonstrate a total disregard for democratic norms," Smith-Cannoy wrote in the email. "I cannot speak for my colleagues but as a scholar that studies human rights violations around the world, I felt compelled to sign the letter as I believe that Trump’s actions are a direct threat to the persistence of our democracy."

The mob, which was addressed by President Trump prior to their storming of the Capitol, overwhelmed police and breached the Capitol building's doors, breaking windows and forcing congressmen, congresswomen and senators to be evacuated from the House and Senate floors.

After watching the rioters, Coronado, who has taught politics and American government for 28 years, said she felt compelled to sign the letter to stand up for democracy.  

“I cried, I was so upset,” Coronado said. “I’m not one to cry easily, I have to tell you.”

Lewis wrote in an email that he signed the letter citing multiple elements of democracy were in danger, including officials in power willing to step down from their positions when defeated in a popular election, the legitimacy of a free press and a peaceful transition of power.

"After what happened yesterday, can we really say we are witnessing a peaceful transition of power?" Lewis wrote.

One protestor was shot and killed by police, and according to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee III, three others died as a result of medical emergencies during the riot.

President Trump posted a video during the riot, continuing to assert the "election was stolen from us" and asking rioting protestors to "go home," adding, "We love you, you’re very special." The video has since been removed by multiple platforms it was posted on, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“How can we love someone who’s done this kind of damage?” Coronado said. “I’ve never heard him say ‘we love our school teachers, we love our nurses.’”

On Thursday, President Trump posted a video to Twitter denouncing the "heinous attack" on the Capitol building, and for the first time, explicitly acknowledged that there will be a new administration. 

Despite objections to the validity of the ballots from a few senators and a number of congressmen and congresswomen, there was a widely held expectation that Congress would confirm the votes and declare President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. 

Congress returned to the House and Senate floors once the rioting protestors had been cleared from the Capitol building, resuming the count of the electoral college ballots and finishing the process just after 1:40 a.m. MST.

Editor's note: This article was updated Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. to include quotes from ASU professors Irasema Coronado and Paul G. Lewis.


Reach the reporter at kbriley@asu.edu and on Twitter @KokiRiley.

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