De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you are no doubt aware of the Anonymous OpEd piece published by the New York Times last Wednesday, September 5th.  Anonymous claims to be a ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ who is part of a group within the White House attempting to quell the worst of Trump’s inclinations.  One line in the letter stirred a great deal of conversation:

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Early on in the Trump presidency, I mentioned the 25th Amendment a few times as a possible means for removing the madman, and at that time, I saw some hope.  But, just as I have cautioned you that impeachment is absolutely not going to fly, I must now do the same regarding the 25th Amendment.

A quick explanation of how the 25th Amendment is supposed to work:

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send a letter to the president pro-tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House notifying them that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” When that happens, the vice president will assume the role of “acting president” and the president is (temporarily) relieved of his duties. The president can notify congressional leadership that no incapacity exists and unless the vice president and the majority of the cabinet disagree, the president will reassume his duties. Otherwise, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would be required to vote to permanently bestow the title of “acting president” upon the vice president.

The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with a situation in which the president was incapacitated but still alive. Imagine a scenario in which the president has suffered a massive stroke. The stroke has put him in a persistent vegetative state. He is unable to discharge the office but, because he has not died, the vice president cannot assume the presidency in the normal manner. Prior to the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no constitutional remedy for such a situation. Such a scenario is real—such a medical crisis happens to Americans every day—and if it afflicted a president, the stakes would be profound.

The intent of the 25th Amendment was not to remove presidential powers because people disagreed with the president or because they questioned his judgment. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

Look at Mike Pence last Sunday, making the rounds of the morning talk shows and licking Trump’s boots at every stop.  Is this a man who is going to invoke the 25th?  Check out his cabinet members … find even two who would be willing to take the risk, let alone a majority.  And think about this … if they did grow a pair of cojones and take that first step … all Trump would have to do is fire the lot of them.  Ridiculous, you say?  Remember who we’re talking about here.

And then, even if all the above obstacles were overcome, we come back to the same argument I made to prove that an impeachment is not feasible:  it requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress.  The Senate, again, will be sort of a democratic majority even if every single seat that is open in November is filled by a democrat.  The republicans in Congress are not going to risk their necks, their ‘good standing’ with their voters to remove Trump from office.  Period.

So, no, Trump will not be impeached nor removed via the 25th Amendment in the foreseeable future.  My best guess is that, barring a true meltdown such as him removing all his clothing and running naked through the White House brandishing a flaming sword and screaming, “Burn, baby, burn!!!”, he will be in office until 20 January 2021.  The only way I can predict that changing is if the 36% or so who still support Trump can be convinced to listen to reason, to consider facts, to realize the dangers of him remaining in office.  As I have noted before, the republicans in Congress will move against Trump just as soon as their voters tell them to, and not one moment sooner.   It’s gonna be a long 783 days until election day 2020.

62 thoughts on “De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

  1. Dear Jill,

    I loved your post and all the comments. LOL. All I know for sure is not he’s crossed the line to where he’s delusional. The republican leaders had hoped they could keep the lid on the US president but that’s been mission impossible.

    They had better pay big time for putting all of us through 18 plus months of Hell and with our national security interests at risk, for the republicans to be able to put their man / stooge in the White House.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Gronda! I agree with you … they OWE us. They owe us for all the sleepless nights, the high blood pressure, the loss of appetite, the extreme angst. I even told my daughter that if I die of heart failure while he is in office, I want her to hire a lawyer and sue Trump and the GOP, for it will have been their fault!

      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great job exploring the possibilities here, there’s so much confusion about the 25th Ammendment. I agree it’s unlikely Trump will be removed from office but I disagree about impeachment. Keep in mind Clinton was impeached but stayed in office. I think it’s likely the Democrats (assuming they control the House after the midterms) will vote to impeach in the House, probably on the basis of obstruction of justice. This would only require a simple majority. Of course, the vote woild never clear the two-thirds majority hurdle in the Senate so there’s no chance of any further action. Even so, it would be a great way for the Democrats to show their base they are “resisting” and to put pressure on the administration.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! You are quite right that he could be impeached, yet not removed from office, as Clinton was. But, in my opinion, that would be even worse, for it would cause an uprising by his base, and he would be even more belligerent than he already is. I think that unless he can also be removed from office, impeachment by the House should be left alone. Just my opinion, of course 😉

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  3. Well. We shall see shan’t we?
    This small bag of petulance and appetites has to try and steer his way through unseen storms and upheavals, things which his childish ego cannot manage, trying to relying on approximately a small percentage of the adult population.
    I’ll give you to possible scenarios:
    1. He can’t hack it any longer and retires through ill-health, strain of leading the nation yadda-yadda.
    2. He realises he is out of his depth, gets scared ****less or bored with the whole thing and hands the running over to his courtiers
    3. Mr Flab drops down dead.
    4. He really looses it and does get 25th’d.
    5. He gets a civic version of the Julius Caesar treatment . (Remember a lot of these guys have to consider careers way beyond Trump)
    Unlikely?
    Well yes in the case of a President of the USA, but you don’t have a President. You have an incumbent in The Whitehouse.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think #3 and #4 are the only ones that are remotely possible. He is too much of a megalomaniac to go for #1 or #2. Personally, I am rooting for #3, because it is the cleanest and would cause the least amount of chaos. There is one scenario that you didn’t mention, however … #6 – an assassins bullet. It would be messier and cause more chaos than if he did us all a favour and keeled over on his own (remember my scenario of the potty and the cell phone?), but I’d rank it as my 2nd favourite option. 😇

      Liked by 2 people

      • That is the one I dread. Him getting the bullet. For a start off his devoted following would raise him to martyr and they deification. While the backlash against innocent members of the minorities does not bear thinking about.
        The think about megalomaniacs is they have trouble with Reality when it truly hammers on their door after a while of ranting and raving, they flee the whole think.
        You might find #1 or #2 come to pass.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I would be eternally grateful if #1 or #2 came to pass. Perhaps you’re right and if he truly sees the handwriting on the wall, he will find an excuse to exit before he is wearing orange behind bars. Fingers crossed, because I know you are right about the ramifications of #6 … 😨

          Liked by 2 people

              • Interesting Jill. A good account of the blundering foolishness and irresponsibility of the fellow.
                From the long historical perspective and the way the USA political system operates with an-anti-Trump vote mobilised, you could have an administration and a legislative co-operation which could roll-back a lot of his nonsense in a relatively quick time, dependant on The People’s willingness to take their side.
                Thus in the long term Trump gets consigned to one of the least of presidents known only for being a quirk of the voting system (and possibly a move to dismantle the Electoral College)

                Liked by 1 person

                • I agree with you that IF we can united behind a candidate who has a social conscience, much of the damage he has done and is doing could be turned around fairly quickly. Problem is, there is NO unity in this nation at all right now, and the great divide keeps getting bigger by the day. I would love to see Trump be but a mere blip in the annals of history … it would be such a slap-in-the-face to him! And I have long advocated getting rid of the electoral college … after 2016, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a hue & cry for doing so.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Trouble with things like the Electoral College is that whoever its purpose suits will go on at great and insincere length at it being a bastion etc, etc.
                    Just to illustrate how peculiar this can get.
                    Back in the Age of Queen Thatch when the Labour Party was in one of its regular bouts of vitriolic civil war, it was noted the only effect opposition to Thatcher’s Govt was the unelected House of Lords (supposedly a conservative outfit) who kept giving the govt all sorts of grief with the bills they were trying to get through. Constitutionally (British style) The House Lords cannot actually block forever a govt’s legislation but they can make things awkward. So in the 1980s at one stage the effective opposition to Thatch was The House of Lords (go figure)

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • You make a good point … whomever is currently the beneficiary of such as the electoral college is not likely to allow it to be denigrated. Never mind that it allowed the very thing it was intended to prevent!!! So, does the House of Lords have no ‘real’ power, then, rather like whichever party is in the minority in Congress here? One of these days, if I survive the Reign of Trump, I want to learn more about your Parliamentary system. I even picked up a bio on Thatcher not long ago, mainly because our conversations about her have piqued my curiosity.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I’m sure you’ll find a book about ‘Thatch’ interesting Jill, being detached and all. Enjoy…
                      Yeh the House of Lords is a funny institution, they can actually create bills (laws, amendment etc,) and they can block them (Except for the important ones, although they can make a fuss which attracts public attention, which annoys the govt of the day)…So they are a very British thing!.
                      The problem we both have is getting our system mixed up with ‘the other system’.
                      For instance LBJ used to say about British Prime Minister…’All that power. All that power….’

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah, I’m detached, but mostly I have learned from you that she wasn’t the beloved P.M. that we all thought she was at the time. I’ve gotten a different perspective from you and want to learn more. I’ve also an interest in learning more about the British Parliamentary system, for despite the Brexit upheaval, it seems to work more efficiently than ours. At least you have options for getting rid of a bad seed, whereas ours are pretty much useless at the moment.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It was said of Thatcher there was no one who didn’t care if she was leader or not. She was either a Godsend or a Blight upon the nation.
                      In itself it can be a robust system; currently though we’re in a bad place, the two main parties are riven with internal battles. One is usual, two very bad.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ah yes, there are people like that, people about whom it is impossible to remain indifferent. But tell me … are the internal battles solely over Brexit? I can’t help wondering if some who voted for Brexit are now regretting their choice?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Brexit looms over everything like one of those storm and cloud heaving skies which are oppressive and somehow just aren’t breaking…..yet.
                      In terms of the public both sides’ wings are locked into a strident and sometimes fanatical battle over their rights (think Gun Control in the USA). Remain insist the whole panorama has changed and there should be another vote. Leave says we’ve had a vote and that is that! There does not seem to be a massive groundswell demanding an other vote, although there is quite a formidable movement. But unless P.M May goes nuclear to force her own rebels, an’t gonna happen.
                      Both Parties Labour and Conservative are basically hopeless on the subject and the Govt aside from PM May a sorry spectacle of the divided, self-serving, waiting-to- jumpers and ‘Duh..Gee Georges’.
                      Basically I think most folk are going around in WTF mode.
                      29th March 2019 the UK leaves the EU with no strategy that any ordinary person can make out.
                      Me, I’m going to have a T-Shirt with the slogan..TOLDJA!🤬

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks for the clarification! Leaving the EU with no strategy … what could possibly go wrong, eh? 29 March is not all that far away. I think you probably should have a few thousand of those t-shirts made — might be the hottest selling item of the year!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It started pouring down with rain. So I went outside for a few minutes to put out the garbage for tomorrow’s collection, just to clear my head.
                      Got to make sure I don’t catch whatever it is that’s going around. My own insanity suits me just fine!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Good idea … a nice fresh rain always seems to clear out the cobwebs and other detritus. In the case of this particular insanity, my theory is that you should be safe so long as you don’t drink the water … drink only bottled water, but be sure to recycle the plastic bottles. 😀

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ah yes … Welsh water is surely safer than ours. We don’t even use tap water for coffee or tea, because there are so many chemicals in it that it tastes horrible. See, it’s a diabolical plan. First, they pollute the water with coal sludge and runoff from crops that were treated with poisonous chemicals, then they filter the water with a few hundred more chemicals in order to make it “safe” to drink. But it tastes so bad that we buy bottled water to drink, so everybody is happy and making money … except the lowly consumers.

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

    A medical assessment is not necessary to invoke the 25th Amendment. Here is the relevant text:

    Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
    Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sure, but you and I both know that Pence and a majority of cabinet members are not going to move to invoke the 25th. They don’t have the guts, plus their futures are tied to his, or so they see it. It just ain’t gonna happen, unless the situation becomes significantly more dangerous or the republican ‘base’ finally wakes up and appeals to their representatives to “throw da bum out”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know that, Jill. President Trump’s ultimate fate depends upon events which haven’t yet occurred or which haven’t yet fully transpired. The November midterms will be key, and Republican leaders are now fretting that they might even lose control of the U.S. Senate (my blog will cover this story later today). We also must remember that the GOP establishment despises Trump and his minion. They reluctantly embraced this populist movement only when Trump’s nomination became unavoidable. This alliance is strictly transactional (i.e. you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours). But, it is also fragile and subject to changing political fortunes. Should the widely anticipated blue wave come to fruition, Trump will become a great liability for the GOP.

        In May 2017, I wrote a speculative piece about the possibility that the GOP might dump Trump – under the right circumstances – and install Pence as President. This would essentially be a civil coup d’état, and the 25th Amendment would be the perfect tool because it would avoid an embarrassing impeachment process and allow them to look like the “good guys.” You might find it interesting reading: https://thesecularjurist.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/conning-the-con-man/

        Liked by 1 person

        • I must admit that you give me something to think about. I did go read your post from May 2017, and interestingly, in the beginning my thoughts closely mirrored your own. I thought the GOP felt backed into a corner, but thought he couldn’t possibly last a year, and they would still be in charge, albeit with a more qualified person at the helm. But now, I’m not so sure, as he has proven to be teflon-coated thus far. However, I am going to give it some thought, and frankly I hope you are right. I dislike Pence immensely, mostly for his bigotry, but I still believe him to be saner and more reasonable, less likely to do us real harm in the global community, whereas Trump seems determined to ensure we have no allies! Thanks for your view … I really hope you are right. It would be a lovely Christmas present, wouldn’t it?

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’d rather see Pence as President hamstrung by a Democratic controlled Congress than what we have now; but, that wouldn’t make me happy either. Still, Trump must go. He is just too irrational, too volatile, and too corrupt to be president and that makes him a great danger to our nation and to the world.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, your next to last sentence speaks volumes for what will it take. I find it interesting that the last few days, the White House is parading out its financial folks to say it is Trump alone responsible for the percolating economy. The fact the economy has been in its second longest growth mode for over 112 consecutive months (nine + years) and the bull stock market traces back to March, 2009. Job creation of over 2 + million per annum is in its 8th consecutive year. And so on.

    Yes, the tax cut added some as did the deregulation, but to me, both went way too far and will harm our debt and environment, which have future costs well beyond the accretive aspects in 2018.

    Presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. But, one thing is for sure, if people are going to credit Trump, they better credit Obama as well. Yet, those last words won’t be coming from Fox and Friends. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mother used to have a saying: “Those who can, do … those who can’t, talk”. Seems that if Trump’s policies were really so great, if he himself was really great, his actions would speak for themselves and he wouldn’t have to toot his own horn and roll out his paid puppets … er, advisors … to praise him. Sometimes silence is golden … I wish he would try it for a change. 😉

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  6. Aww, don’t you go all countdown on me too. my brother in law is on a daily countdown to Christmas, and just so you know it’s 105 days. Let’s wish ourselves a nice Christmas resent, the not so sad demise of the Beloved Leader and that includes the one in South Korea too.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, like the music you share which stays with me for the entire day, the visual of “burn, baby, burn” and a fat-assed gob of naked orange flesh running through the WH is not nice, not at all pretty, and I will spend my day trying to dislodge the visual from my brain. THANKS ALOT!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh heh heh … You are so welcome, my friend! Glad to be of assistance! 😀 Actually, had time permitted, I would have gotten Miss Goose to design a visual of that scenario, but lucky for you, it was 1:00 in the morning and there simply wasn’t time. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I gather there is a movement to form a committee made up of psychiatrists, among others, who might make a recommendation to the Congress about the president’s capacity to hold office. But, as you say, I don’t see this Congress voting him out of office any time soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a way to mandate an independent medical and psychological evaluation of Trump. And there is nothing We the people can do except pressure a Congress that has its selfish agenda. Surprisingly this gap in the constitution was not filled. Trump shows signs of psychopathology, but there is little that can be done to help him or the country from reckless decisions. Each day more Americans question his mental capacity yet Congress and Americans are unwilling to act forcible and have him evaluated. Do Americans want a mentally unstable person for POTUS?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unfortunately, the minority are in charge at the moment, and about the only thing we can do is change that on November 6th. Do we want a mentally unstable person at the helm of our ship? Well, the majority of us, some 60% don’t, but the minority … the Trump supporters … don’t really much care about his mental state, his past crimes and transgressions, his lack of honesty, his lack of education and knowledge. They drank the Kool-Aid, bought his rhetoric that he will make their lives somehow better, and nothing else matters to them. If the rest of us want to have a voice, we simply must get the boot-lickers who are joined at the hip to Trump out of Congress. Even then, we will not be able to remove him from office, but at least there will be constraints on his actions.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you Jill! You will not believe, but now I recognize parallels to what has happened here since 2016 against Pope Francis.
    They –our Germans–were probably too much involved in the US state law than in the Vatican. They wanted to dismiss Pope Francis with this so-called “Dubia” against his encyclica in a similar way as according to the 25th Amendment, and to use Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller as his deputy. ***lol*** But the Vatican isnt the USA. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

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