How Trump could quickly be removed from office using the 25th Amendment

How Trump could quickly be removed from office using the 25th Amendment
President Donald J. Trump disembarks Air Force One Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at Steward International Airport in Orange County, N.Y., where Trump attended the Army-Navy football game nearby at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. (Source: Official White House Photos by. Shealah Craighead)

Why was the 25th Amendment added?

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved in 1967, in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It was intended to clarify succession procedures in the event that the president dies, is removed from office, or is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

What exactly does the amendment say?

It makes clear that the vice president becomes president if the president dies, resigns or is removed from office, and that a new vice president must be nominated.

There’s also a section on temporarily transferring presidential authority to the vice president, intended for scenarios like the president undergoing anesthesia for surgery.

A final section provides for transferring presidential power if the president is unable to fulfill his constitutional role but he or she cannot or will not step aside. That provision requires approval from the vice president and a majority of either the Cabinet or another body that Congress may designate. Congress has never created such a commission, though Raskin introduced legislation to do so.

The number of Cabinet officials who could be involved in such a discussion shrunk by one Thursday, when Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — resigned.

When has the 25th Amendment been used?

President Ronald Reagan invoked it once, and President George W. Bush did twice when the men underwent medical procedures. They transferred authority to their vice presidents for a matter of hours, according to the National Constitution Center.

What about impeachment?

Trump already was impeached by the House in December 2019 on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. The Senate acquitted him of those charges in February 2020.

That process is legally complex and typically unfolds over a matter of weeks or months. And Pelosi declined on Thursday to offer a timeline on what comes next. If Trump were to be impeached and found guilty, it would prevent him from being eligible for public office in the future.

Who has signed on to the efforts to remove Trump from office?

A tally from CNN shows more than 30 congressional Democrats in support of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

Some Republicans have joined. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R-Ill.), has called for Trump’s removal. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another Republican, told reporters Thursday that the country “would be better off” if Trump resigned or was removed.

Even the president of the National Association of Manufacturers has urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Biden declined to address calls to invoke the 25th Amendment on Thursday, instead of blaming the president for inciting a mob, and labeling the rioters as “domestic terrorists.”

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.