Right now, as everyone is chattering about the need to remove President Drumpf as soon as possible in the wake of his inciting a riot on January 6th, people are getting very excited about the possibility of getting this clown out of office before Biden’s January 20th inauguration.
But hold your horses everyone.
It ain’t going to be that simple. Nor is it very likely.
The 25th Amendment was set into motion by the assassination of John F. Kennedy (and a subsequent heart attack suffered by Lyndon Johnson). It was designed to deal with questions relative to the physical disability of a President. The 25th Amendment was not really designed to deal with the mental disability of a President – like Reagan’s progressive Alzheimer’s – which was already beginning to affect him at the end of his Presidency.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, adopted on February 10, 1967, requires (among other things) that:
|The Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can declare that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”|
The President can subsequently declare himself fit again and resume the powers and duties of his office.
At that point the Vice-President and a majority of the cabinet can declare that the President is still unfit.
If the President and his VP and Cabinet are at odds about his fitness, the Congress then must decide the dueling declarations by a 2/3rds vote of both houses.
President Trump has been mentally deranged from the beginning of his Presidency. It started with his insane (and completely irrelevant) insistence that his inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s.
It continued with his compulsive and uncontrollable lying ever since, including such ludicrous claims as that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama when the National Weather Service had chartered a different path for it.
Trump has repeatedly been diagnosed as a malignant narcissist (among other things), and a group of Psychiatrists and mental health professionals deemed him unfit as early as 2017 in their book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.
The difference this time around is that Trump’s craziness almost got the leadership of the Congress and his own Vice-President killed.
When you literally risk the lives of the entire Congress with your incitement, you may finally have crossed that line, that “I could shoot someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters” line.
People have been bailing from his administration in extraordinary numbers ever since the attempted insurrection.
One of the first was Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation, who just happens to be Mitch McConnell’s wife. Maybe she didn’t appreciate the President putting her husband’s life in danger. Others who subsequently bailed include (but are hardly limited to):
- Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education;
- Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff (and now the administration’s special envoy to Northern Ireland);
- Matthew Pottinger, the Deputy National Security Advisor;
- Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff for First Lady Melania Trump.
All of which is fine and good, but (as previously noted) to invoke the 25th, the Vice-President and a majority of the President’s cabinet must vote that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
And that cabinet is rapidly being de-populated, with responsibility transferring down to “Acting” Cabinet members.
Are these acting members going to want to make that call that the President is unfit?
Doesn’t seem likely, does it?
 People realized after the fact that Kennedy could possibly have lingered in a coma for weeks, and who would then have been in charge of the United States.
 The Congress could technically also designate some other body, but they would have to do so by legislation ahead of time, before the issue of the President’s fitness is at issue.
 I guess Trump can now kiss that potential pardon from Mike Pence goodbye.
 A number of commentators have noted that these resignations may be less about moral outrage than about Trump cabinet members not having the courage to take a vote on the 25th amendment.