Mike Pence had his chance to rid America of Trump on Jan. 6 and blew it: conservative
Former President Donald Trump and Former US Vice President Mike Pence (AFP)

In a column for the Daily Beast, Cato Institute editor Andy Craig suggested that, while Mike Pence deserves a modicum of respect for not allowing Donald Trump to bully him into an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, he missed his chance to put a knife in Donald Trump's political future.

As Craig notes, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was made just for cases like Donald Trump where he could have been removed from office on that day after he had already 'usurped' the now-former president's authority as the Capitol building was being stormed.

As Craig explained, the House select committee co-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) stated, "Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. But Mike Pence did each of those things,” with the columnist adding that the former vice president had another -- and legal -- tool at hand that he should have used.

Craig's new column was published as the Jan. 6 committee was set to focus on the pressure campaign mounted by Trump against his vice president to help the defeated Republican leader overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat.

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Craig said that Pence was well aware that Trump was out of control and needed to be sidelined -- and yet he chose not to do it.

Writing, "Faced with a president who was clearly unable to carry out his responsibilities, Pence exercised those powers himself. His actions amount to invoking the 25th Amendment in practice but not in name, with none of the legitimacy and transparency the amendment was intended to create," he added, "As understandable as his motives were, Pence’s actions should be repudiated as a precedent. The next time a vice president feels that the president is incapacitated, power should be transferred the right way, following the part of the Constitution written for that purpose. No matter how uncomfortable the political optics, the vice president’s first obligation is to follow the Constitution. Pence did that when it came to presiding over the electoral count in Congress, and he should have done it when dealing with a president deliriously out of touch with reality."

Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, said its third June hearing would address Trump's "relentless effort" on January 6 2021 and in the days beforehand to cajole Mike Pence into rejecting Joe Biden's victory.

"As a federal judge has indicated, this likely violated two federal criminal statutes. President Trump had no factual basis for what he was doing and he had been told it was illegal," Cheney said on Twitter.

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"Despite this, President Trump plotted with a lawyer named John Eastman and others to overturn the outcome of the election on January 6."

An aide to the committee said the hearing would look at Eastman's role in developing a plot for Trump to pressure Pence into subverting the election, backed by a bogus legal theory that represented a "grave danger to American democracy."

Cheney's tweet featured a clip of testimony from Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann who told Eastman the day after the insurrection: "Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it."

With additional reporting by AFP