I have been asked numerous times of late about the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Folks, believe me when I tell you that I want the madman gone just as much as you do, but I’m not going to give you false hope. The odds of the 25th being used to remove Trump are almost as good as the odds that I will sprout wings and fly. I addressed this topic just over a year ago, but I think it’s time I revisit it, perhaps with a bit more detail.
The 25th Amendment, Section IV reads …
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.
The Amendment was not intended in the first place to remove a president for cause, but to transfer power to the Vice President in the event that the president were truly incapacitated. The mechanism for removing a president ‘for cause’, is impeachment.
Now, even if you wanted to stretch it a bit and try to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, and there is some justification there, for he proves every day that he is mentally unstable, and it could be argued that this often renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties …” you still have to read that first sentence very closely. “Whenever the vice president and a majority of … principal officers …” By principal officers, it means the Cabinet. I cannot see Mike Pence being willing to invoke the 25th, but even if he were, let us look at Trump’s cabinet for just a minute.
- Vice President – Mike Pence
- Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo
- Secretary of Treasury – Steven Mnuchin
- Secretary of Defense – Mike Esper
- Attorney General – William Barr
- Secretary of Interior – David Bernhardt
- Secretary of Agriculture – Sonny Perdue
- Secretary of Commerce – Wilbur Ross
- Secretary of Labour – Eugene Scalia
- Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Alex Azar
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Ben Carson
- Secretary of Transportation – Elaine Chao (married to Mitch McConnell)
- Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry
- Secretary of Education – Betsy DeVos
- Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs – Robert Wilkie
- Secretary of Homeland Security (acting) – Kevin McAleenan
- White House Chief of Staff – Mick Mulvaney
- Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Mick Mulvaney
- United States Trade Representative – Robert Lighthizer
- Director of National Intelligence (acting) – Joseph Maguire
- Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – Gina Haspel
- Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Andrew Wheeler
- Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) – Chris Pilkerton
- Ambassador to the United Nations – Kelly Craft
Now, you all know at least something about most of these individuals. I’ve written at least a time or two about most of them. Four – Bernhardt, Perry, Wheeler, and Craft – have close ties to the fossil fuel industry. Pompeo and Barr have both proven to us that they sold their souls downriver and are willing to break the law in favour of Trump. And others, such as DeVos, got their position as a reward for donating large amounts to Trump’s 2016 campaign. These are not nice, honest people of integrity … they are self-serving people hanging onto Trump’s coattails because there is something in it for them.
I look at the list, and I see five, maybe six of the 24 who either I don’t know much about, or who I believe may have enough of a conscience to be willing to put themselves in the line of fire in order to do the right thing. Five or six out of 24 does not constitute a majority, folks.
I’m sorry to burst that bubble … I know how badly you need hope right now, for I need it too. But, what we don’t need is false hope. Amendment 25 simply ain’t gonna happen in the foreseeable future. Now, that could change down the road, but for today, for this week, next week … no, it’s not even worth wasting time thinking about. Our best hope at this point is impeachment. Focus on that … focus on contacting your senators and representatives and letting them know that you support impeachment and that you want/expect them to uphold the rule of law. That is where our best hope lies for today.