(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Joe Biden declined to endorse lawmakers’ push to oust President Donald Trump, saying he was instead focused on taking office in less than two weeks.
Biden repeated his longstanding claim that Trump is “unfit” for the presidency but said the fastest way to remove him was to move forward with his own inauguration.
“I think it’s important that we get on the business of getting him out of office,” Biden said at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “The quickest way that will happen is us being sworn in on the 20th. What action happens before or after that is an action for the Congress to make but that’s what I’m looking forward to -- him leaving office,”
Biden said that instead of impeachment, he was concentrating on controlling the coronavirus pandemic and reviving the U.S. economy.
Despite the symbolism of one president handing power off to another at the inauguration, Biden said it was a “good thing” Trump is declining to attend the ceremony at the Capitol, which this week was attacked by mobs of Trump supporters.
“One of the few things he and I agree on,” Biden quipped. He added, however, that Vice President Mike Pence would be “welcome to come.”
Biden spoke later Friday to both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the president-elect’s transition team said in a statement. Biden discussed his legislative agenda, though the statement did not specify whether they also talked about impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from office.
Pelosi said Friday that House Democrats were prepared to impeach the president a second time if he didn’t immediately resign.
In excerpts from an interview with CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that will be broadcast on Sunday, she calls Trump “a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president.”
Lawmakers are outraged that Trump encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol, where groups of them overwhelming law enforcement and broke into the building, forcing evacuations and sparking mayhem that left five people dead, including a police officer. Even though the president has only a few days left in his term, many have called for him to be stripped of power as soon as possible.
Pelosi has been calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and said the House would move forward with articles of impeachment if nothing is done. The chamber’s top Republican warned such a move would further divide the country.
Those documents have already been drafted, but in a conference call Friday with House Democrats Pelosi didn’t say whether she’s made a decision about proceeding, according to people who listened in on the call.
Biden also declined to add his name to the list of those calling for the the resignation of senators who objected to his win being certified.
“I think they should just be flat beaten the next time they run,” he said of Texas’s Ted Cruz and Missouri’s Josh Hawley. “They are part of the big lie. There are decent people out there who actually believe these lies because they’ve heard it again and again.”
Biden went so far as to compare them to Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.
Hawley slammed the comparison in a statement as “undignified, immature, and intemperate behavior from the President-elect” and demanded Biden retract the comments.
(Updates with Biden calls with Pelosi, Schumer, beginning in seventh paragraph.)