US Vice President Mike Pence told House leaders Tuesday he will not invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Donald Trump from office.
Pence said that the 25th Amendment was designed to address presidential "incapacity or disability" and accused the House of Representatives of playing "political games." Democrats still plan to vote on non-binding the 25th Amendment resolution, even though Pence said he won't meet its demand, Bloomberg reports.
He said, "I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution."
Democrats have also set up a vote as soon as Wednesday to impeach the president for the second time.
Pence's letter comes in response to a resolution House Democrats will put to a vote Tuesday night urging him to use his constitutional authority to end Trump's term early.
He also pointed out that despite intense pressure from within his party to invalidate the electoral votes from swing states won by Biden, he fulfilled his consitutional duty to certify the results.
"I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation," Pence wrote.
Earlier in the day Trump said the 25th Amendment was of "zero risk" to him.
Democrats mobilized rapidly to begin the process to have Trump removed after he encouraged his supporters last Wednesday to "march" to the US Capitol and "fight."
In a violent insurrection, the rioters stormed past outnumbered police, rampaged through and ransacked the building, and interrupted Congress as it was certifying Joe Biden's election victory.
Pence, who was presiding over the vote, as well as Pelosi and other lawmakers, were forced to take shelter. Five people died during the unrest including a US Capitol Police officer.
The vice president's letter came just hours before the House of Representatives was to vote on a resolution that calls on Pence to initiate the 25th Amendment process and "declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office."
Pelosi has said Pence's failure to trigger that process would lead to a Trump impeachment vote on Wednesday. She has described Trump as being "unhinged."
"We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat," Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues this weekend. "The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action."
Democrats had hoped that Pence - who drew Trump's ire for rebuffing his calls to reject election results, saying such a move was unconstitutional - would call on the cabinet to immediately remove Trump from power. The president has been widely rebuked for his role stirring last week's riot at the US Capitol, which left five people dead and dozens more injured.
Representative Liz Cheney, the No 3 Republican in the House, said earlier Tuesday she would join with Democrats and vote to impeach the president.
If Trump is impeached by the House, two-thirds of the Senate would be needed to convict him. Trump escaped removal from office last year when only one Republican senator - Mitt Romney of Utah - voted with Democrats.
Even though the Senate probably won't be able to conclude the trial before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, Democrats plan to push forward with Trump's second impeachment because the process could include a vote to prohibit him from again seeking federal office.