Pressed again on the subject of the 25th Amendment, Azar said: “It would not be appropriate for me to discuss — and I never have — my conversations with colleagues or with the president and vice president.”
Azar’s refusal to back Trump by definitively shutting down speculation about the Cabinet’s 25th Amendment deliberations represents a notable departure for the secretary — who has repeatedly sought to curry the president’s favor amid the coronavirus pandemic and has been reliably loyal to the White House.
But Azar’s remarks on Tuesday underscore the dire threat Trump’s presidency now faces in the aftermath of last week’s violence at the Capitol, which resulted in the deaths of at least five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
Scores of Democratic lawmakers, several former federal officials, some governors and at least one Republican House member have all demanded Trump’s immediate removal from office. A number of administration officials have resigned in recent days, including three members of the Cabinet: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
If Vice President Mike Pence does not initiate procedures to remove him, House Democrats have warned, the chamber is poised to impeach Trump on Wednesday for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. He would be the only president in American history to be impeached twice.