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Turmoil at the Capitol was a ‘direct assault on American democracy:’ Duke professor

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Alexis Keenan discuss the 25th Amendment with Duke University professor, Edmund Malesky.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: My next guest is a political scientist who joined dozens of his colleagues in writing an open letter to Vice President Pence and the cabinet, asking them to immediately remove President Trump from office. I want to welcome Edmund Malesky. He is Duke University Professor of Political Economy and Director of the Duke Center for International Development. We are also joined by Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan.

Professor, lay out for us why you and your colleagues believe President Trump has got to go.

EDMUND MALESKY: Yeah, well, it's an honor to be here. Thank you so much for inviting let. Me just say that I agree with the previous experts that the political feasibility of this is very difficult. But I think there's three critical reasons why this is important.

First, I think we all saw the horrifying situation yesterday, which was a direct assault on American democracy and hollowed institutions. And the incumbent president still retains an enormous amount of power and the platform to continue that type of activity over the next 13 days. So I think that remains a major concern.

But stepping back from that, I think there are two larger issues that we need to be worried about. The second one has to do with the stability of the economy. So-- it's not just the immediate next 13 days that we need to be worried about, in terms of political instability affecting markets. It is the fact that what happened yesterday was based on a lie.

And as long as that lie continues to persist, as long as the incumbent president continues to-- continues to proffer that lie, it will continue to burden the next administration. And it will lead to future problems with political stability that will help-- that will make long-term investors feel quite uncertain.

And then, the third thing is, you know, over the next 13 days, not only is there potential for a lot of damage, there's potential for a lot of danger. We're dealing with tremendous threats, international relations threats, the hacking issues with Iran, and also in terms of the pandemic, in terms of our ability to address COVID, to roll out-- to roll out the vaccines, and to deal with the new variants.

And we have a president right now that is extremely distracted from those important efforts and is not interested in-- in managing the government to deal with these critical threats.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Professor Malesky, I want to ask you about the other side of that coin. With just less than two weeks to go before Biden's inauguration, is there also a risk, though, where more instability could be created by moving forward with the 25th Amendment avenue? Because we all know that if the president objects to that removal by the vice president and the majority of his cabinet, whatever cabinet might be remaining, the Congress still must convene. And there has to be a 2/3 vote of that body in order to ultimately get President Trump out.

So based on what we saw yesterday, do you see that as a threat where we could see more rioting, perhaps?

EDMUND MALESKY: Well I think it's a great question. I think this gets to a critical issue, which is this absolutely has to be a bipartisan effort. It can't just be Democratic elites calling for it. And in fact, mechanically, Republican elites have to be part of it. It has to be Trump's cabinet. And I-- and the reason why that's so important in terms of this process is it has to be seen to-- to Trump's followers, to the people that were engaged in this yesterday, that Republican elites also believe that the electoral fraud line needs to be ended, right?

So I think if that doesn't happen-- if you don't have bipartisan support for this, you're not going to have the 25th Amendment. And then, this is all just an academic exercise. So-- so the threat of increase-- the threat of increased crisis really depends-- would be, I think in some way, allayed by the fact that Republican elites absolutely have to be part of this process.

I want-- let me speak to just a second part of your question, Alexis, which was the-- sort of the process of doing this. It is possible-- the way this would work, clearly, the president would object. Then, the House has to convene. There's political effort in getting it to convene. Then, it would take to-- then, they have 21 days before they have to vote on it.

So it is process-- it is possible for-- for after the powers have been transferred to the vice president-- to Vice President Pence to wait those 21 days after the Biden inauguration. So that remains a possibility, though I think a very rare possibility.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Doctor-- I mean, Professor-- sorry, Professor Edmund Malesky of Duke, thank so much for being with us.