Former Defense Secretary William Cohen told CNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump's Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
"I don't know where his Cabinet has been all this time, but it's long overdue for the 25th Amendment because this man is no longer capable of serving the United States of America," Cohen said on "Closing Bell." Cohen, who led the Defense Department during Bill Clinton's presidency, is also a former Republican senator and congressman from Maine.
The 25th Amendment outlines how a president can be removed by the vice president and Cabinet members if deemed unable to carry out the duties of the office. In addition to Cohen's suggestion, Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement Wednesday asking Vice President Mike Pence to "seriously consider" invoking the amendment in order to "preserve democracy."
The riot at the Capitol disrupted a meeting of Congress to confirm the Electoral College results that showed President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump in the November election. Trump, who refused to concede the election to Biden, has repeatedly and falsely claimed that his loss was due to widespread voter fraud.
Trump addressed supporters who had gathered in Washington earlier Wednesday, once again vowing not to concede. "We will stop the steal!" he said at one point.
Cohen said the events that later took place at the Capitol could be traced back to Trump's actions and rhetoric. He said Trump's video posted to Twitter in which the president told rioters to "go home now" was too little, too late. "You already encouraged them to do exactly what they've done," Cohen said, referring to Trump. "You're responsible for it. You should be held accountable for it."
Trump's Twitter video also continued the false narrative of a stolen election. By continually perpetuating those baseless claims, Cohen said Trump stoked the flames that erupted and culminated in the Capitol being evacuated.
"He's been out there promoting this and stirring up the anger and then you have his supporters on Capitol Hill saying, 'The people are angry.' Well why are they angry? They're angry because he's told them to be angry," Cohen said. "He's told them that it's all a fraudulent election and therefore they have a right to be angry and to storm Capitol Hill."
Cohen said he came up on Capitol Hill with Biden, calling the president-elect the right man at the right time. Biden spoke live from Delaware before Trump's Twitter video. Biden had a message of unity, but in a veiled remarks called out Trump for indicting the rioting and to "step up" to stop it.
"When I listened to President-elect Joe Biden say, 'Mr. President, step up,' I wanted to conclude it by saying, step up or step down," Cohen said. "I think it's time for him to step down. Step away. You no longer are president. You haven't been president. You have been stoking this kind of violent action for four years now."
— Reuters contributed to this report.