Since before he even entered the White House, the word impeachment has swirled around President Donald Trump. But now, after his equating of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those who oppose them, one Democrat is calling for Trump to be removed from office without the need for a lengthy impeachment process.
Representative Jackie Speier of California has advocated for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet’s use of the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unable to discharge the powers of the presidency.
“POTUS is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger. Time to invoke the 25th Amendment,” Speier tweeted Tuesday. His comments came after Trump said there was blame” and “very fine people” on “both sides” following last weekend’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer.
POTUS is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger. Time to invoke the 25th Amendment.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) August 16, 2017
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution was put in place in 1967, in the wake of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It details the succession procedure should the president die, resign or have an “inability to discharge the powers and duties” of the office.
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Section 4 of the amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of the executive branch to provide a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives that the president is unable to perform his duties. Congress must then decide with a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers that the president is unfit for office.
The amendment has been used six times, twice during the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon and three times when presidents have undergone colonoscopies, once involving Ronald Reagan and twice for George W. Bush. But Section 4 has never been invoked and never seriously proposed for the type of situation now surrounding Trump.
Yet, following Trump’s remarks over the violence in Charlottesville and his escalating rhetoric over nuclear war with North Korea, Speier claims that the country needs to be protected from the president.
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“The president day by day is becoming more erratic,” she said in further comments to NBC Bay Area. “I don’t want to send out men and women to war in North Korea because the president made such outrageous comments.”
However, any realistic hope Democrats may have of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment hits the same roadblocks as impeachment—garnering the support of Congress when both houses are controlled by Republicans.
There have been signs in recent days of Republicans being more willing to openly criticize the president. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham are among those questioning Trump’s remarks. Few, though, criticize the president by name.
And there has been no indication of Trump’s own Cabinet openly dissenting. Indeed, after his remarks on Tuesday, the White House sent out a list of talking points that began, “The president was entirely correct.”
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