Spurs’ Gregg Popovich says Donald Trump should be removed from office after Capitol riots

As one of the leading voices on social justice issues in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich did more than express outrage about supporters of President Donald Trump rioting inside and outside of the Capitol on Wednesday.

Before Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Popovich called out Trump, Vice President Mike Pence as well as Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.

Popovich said he believes "in all my heart that Trump enjoyed” his supporters storming the Capitol to disrupt the final certification of electoral votes that determined Democratic candidate Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

“He’s incapable. He’s incompetent,” Popovich said of Trump. “While that was going on, 4,000 of our other citizens died due to the pandemic yesterday. We still have the cyber attack that was way worse than Pearl Harbor that hasn’t been talked about by him. He doesn’t care. He loved those people hitting the Capitol because that’s what he cares about. He’s incapable of caring. In one way, it’s sad because he’s a deranged and really flawed individual. But he’s also dangerous.”

Added Popovich: “I don’t think it’s so far fetched for people to start talking about the 25th Amendment.”  

That amendment allows the vice president to determine that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

“We know it probably won’t happen. Mike Pence isn’t going to do it. He’s been an obsequious man for four years,” Popovich said. “He’s not going to do it. I think he tried to take credit because he didn’t try to overturn everything in the Congress last night. He can’t! He doesn’t have the power to! But people acted like he did some kind of good thing. Their job there by the Constitution is to count the ballots. That’s it. That’s all they do. So he didn’t do anything to help any situation whatsoever.”

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. (Photo: Scott Wachter, USA TODAY Sports)

Popovich also criticized Graham, Cruz and Hawley and other Republican senators who supported Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. Cruz and Hawley participated in last-ditch efforts to block the election from being certified.

“They are worse than Trump because they’re not sick,” Popovich said. “They’re not deeply flawed. Mr. Trump is not a well man. These people are sane. But their self-interest and their greed and their lust for power outweighs their love of country or sense of duty to the Constitution or to public service. One would’ve thought with those incidents yesterday that they might have had a mea culpa.”

Instead, Popovich said, “they doubled down and still went and did it as if we’re all stupid. Sometimes smart people think everyone else is stupid. They don’t think we can see they did this for their own personal reasons so they can keep the base. But it’s going to backfire on them.”

Popovich has been among the NBA’s most vocal critics of Trump, saying the president's divisive rhetoric and policies have negatively affected Black people, women and other minorities.

Though one white woman was shot and by police at the Capitol, the majority of rioters were left unharmed as they trespassed, looted and vandalized the building. Meanwhile, the National Guard and law enforcement used force that included tear gas on mostly peaceful protests this summer after police killed unarmed Black people, including George Floyd.

"They’re going to go after those people because those are the people that do not support Trump,” Popovich said of the protesters last summer calling for racial justice. “But if people support Trump, then it’s a free pass. They just happened to be white. That’s what white privilege does for you. That’s white privilege to the nth degree. No fear. No fear whatsoever.” 

Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. Amid concern about what further damage Trump could cause with his words or actions, Popovich argued that Trump needs to be removed from power sooner.

“Mike Pence can send a message. If he does, I hope Nancy Pelosi follows through,” Popovich said of the speaker of the House. “Even if it doesn’t work, that’s not the point. It would be great if it did. But to send that message to the world that is laughing at us, I’m embarrassed to be an American and see people see what they saw yesterday. It would send a great message and maybe help all of us heal a bit and start to feel good. I felt really good when I listened to President-elect Biden today. I started to feel we have a country that is fair and we have some good things ahead. I listened to Judge [Merrick] Garland, I was fired up, really fired up. We’ll see where it goes. But we can’t forget the miserable example of racism that was the biggest takeaway of the whole day, besides the cowardice and obsequious of our elected officials.”

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

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