WASHINGTON — Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., joined calls from a handful of his Republican colleagues Sunday for President Donald Trump to resign for "recruiting thousands of Americans" and "inciting them to attack the Capitol building" last week.
Toomey, who said Saturday that he believed Trump has committed impeachable offenses, argued that resignation is the only realistic option for Trump's departure before his term ends Jan. 20, because he doesn't believe Trump's Cabinet would remove him from office under the 25th Amendment and believes there isn't enough time for Congress to impeach him before he is set to leave office.
"The best way for our country," Toomey said on NBC News' "Meet the Press," is "for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible. I acknowledge that may not be likely, but that would be best."
Toomey said that apart from Trump's comments around the riots, his conduct since he lost his re-election bid in November has been "madness."
"After the election, he took this to an entirely different place, orders of magnitude different," Toomey said. "Recruiting thousands of Americans from around the country to descend on the Capitol, promising a 'wild ride' and inciting them to attack the Capitol building so as to prevent the constitutional responsibility of the vice president and the Congress to complete the peaceful transfer of power."
Toomey, who isn't seeking re-election in 2022, said Trump should face consequences for the riots last week, when Trump supporters left a rally to storm the Capitol, sparking clashes that ultimately led to five deaths.
Despite Trump's track record of pushing false information and lies, his focus on settling scores with those who oppose him and allegations that he pressured a foreign government to investigate a political opponent, which led to his impeachment, Toomey said his more recent conduct was a significant escalation.
"I don't think his unbelievable behavior from Wednesday could have been reasonably expected," Toomey said.
"The president spiraled down into a kind of madness that was different," he said. "I'm sorry if people don't acknowledge that. I think what he did this past week is wildly different from the offensive tweets that were common during his presidency."
Hours before the attack on the Capitol, Trump spoke at a rally intended to correspond with Congress' counting of the Electoral College votes, and he called on Vice President Mike Pence to use his ceremonial role to declare him the winner, describing the country as "under siege" and warning that Republican lawmakers should "fight" for him or face primary challenges when they seek re-election.
Trump remained silent for hours as lawmakers, staff members and reporters sheltered in the Capitol, which was overrun by a mob of his supporters.
By Wednesday evening, he tweeted that the riot was a result of what happens "when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever." He later tweeted a video condemning the violence, and he has since been banned on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Wednesday's riots have prompted majorities of House and Senate Democrats to support Trump's removal from office, with some Republicans, including Toomey, joining calls for Trump's removal or resignation and some administration staffers resigning in protest.
"The assault on the Capitol was a violent insurrection that was incited and encouraged by Donald Trump," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a member of House Democratic leadership, said on "Meet the Press," adding that Trump is a "clear and present danger to the health and safety of the American people."
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Toomey said that even if Trump doesn't leave office early, either by removal or by resignation, he believes the episode has dealt an unrecoverable blow to Trump, who has floated the idea of running for president again in 2024.
"There's no good way to deal with this. It's a terrible situation he put us in. But it is appropriate there would be consequences," Toomey said. "He's disqualified himself. I don't think he can be the Republican nominee, and I certainly don't think he could win a general election."
Not just Trump faces criticism for Wednesday's events — many Democrats, and some Republicans, have criticized Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas for their vocal support of Trump's push to object to the Electoral College votes.
When asked whether he wanted either man to resign from the Senate, Toomey said that "that's their judgment" but that "they're going to have rough sledding ahead."
CORRECTION (Jan. 10, 2021, 7:40 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when President Donald Trump was impeached. He was impeached in 2019, not 2020.