Ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated President, Democrats have agitated and schemed for his removal, via either impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment states:
“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.”
On Feb. 18, 2017, writing in the New York Times less than a month after Trump’s inauguration, Nicholas Kristof ruled out impeachment because “it’s hard to imagine a majority of the House voting to impeach, and even less conceivable that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict so that Trump would be removed. Moreover, impeachment and trial in the Senate would drag on for months, paralyzing America and leaving Trump in office with his finger on the nuclear trigger.”
So Kristof turned to the 25th Amendment as a more likely method:
“But the cleanest and quickest way to remove a president involves Section 4 of the 25th Amendment and has never been attempted. It provides that the cabinet can, by a simple majority vote, strip the president of his powers and immediately hand power to the vice president. The catch is that the ousted president can object, and in that case Congress must approve the ouster by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, or the president regains office.
The 25th Amendment route is to be used when a president is ‘unable’ to carry out his duties. I asked Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of constitutional law, whether that could mean not just physical incapacity, but also mental instability. Or, say, the taint of having secretly colluded with Russia to steal an election?
Tribe said that he believed Section 4 could be used in such a situation.”
“And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?”
Kristof should have defined and qualified what he meant by “we” because his observation really is about his fellow Demonrats and himself. If he were honest, he would phrase his question as follows:
“And what does it say about Democrats and me that, just one month into a duly-elected presidency, we’re already issuing death threats and discussing whether it can be ended early?”
The Democrats have moved beyond mere talk to actual action in Congress.
On April 6, 2017, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced a bill, HR 1987: Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act, the objective of which is to form a special commission in the House which will be charged with activating Section 4 of the 25th Amendment against President Trump.
Note: Democrat Jaime Raskin, 54, “was born in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 1962 to a Jewish family”. A law professor at American University who teaches constitutional law, Raskin is a former Maryland state senator who became Maryland’s 8th congressional district’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2017. Raskin’s first action as a Congressman was his objection, with several other members of House of Representatives, to certifying the election of Donald Trump as President because of Russian interference in the election, never mind the fact that to this day, neither the Democrats nor the FBI could actually produce evidence of Russia’s interference. Vice President Joseph Biden ruled the objection out of order because it had to be sponsored by at least one member of each chamber, and there was no Senate sponsor. (Wikipedia)
HR 1987 is co-sponsored by 21 representatives — all Democrats. They are, in alphabetical order:
- Earl Blumenauer (OR)
- Anthony Brown (MD)
- Judy Chu (CA)
- David Cicilline (RI)
- Steve Cohen (TN)
- John Conyers (MI)
- Lloyd Doggett (TX)
- Dwight Evans (PA)
- Raul Grijalva (AZ)
- Luis Gutierrez (IL)
- Pramila Jayapal (WA)
- Henry “Hank” Johnson (GA)
- Barbara Lee (CA)
- Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
- Zoe Lofgren (CA)
- James McGovern (MA)
- Jerrold Nadler (NY)
- Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL)
- Darren Soto (FL)
- Mark Takano (CA)
On May 1, 2017, H 1987 was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
This is what HR 1987 says:
To establish the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity, and for other purposes…. The Commission shall serve as the body provided by law by Congress to carry out section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Section 3 of HR 1987 says that the duty of the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity is twofold:
(a) In general.—If directed by Congress pursuant to section 5, the Commission shall carry out a medical examination of the President to determine whether the President is mentally or physically unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office, as described under subsection (b).
(b) Determination.—The determination under subsection (a) shall be made if the Commission finds that the President is temporarily or permanently impaired by physical illness or disability, mental illness, mental deficiency, or alcohol or drug use to the extent that the person lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to execute the powers and duties of the office of President.
The Commission will be composed of 11 members:
- The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, the House Speaker and Minority Leader each appoints two members, both of whom shall be physicians, with one of the two a psychiatrist M.D.
- The Republican Party and the Democratic Party each selects a member, who shall be a former statesman, like a retired president or vice president.
- The final group of 10 would meet and choose an 11th member, who would be the committee’s chairman.
Within 72 hours after conducting an examination of the President, “the Commission shall submit a report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate describing the findings and conclusions of the examination.”
HR 1987 ends with an Orwellian clincher. Sec. 6(a) says:
Any refusal by the President to undergo such examination shall be taken into consideration by the Commission in reaching a conclusion in the report….
Reporting for the Daily Mail on June 30, 2017, David Martosko points out that although HR 1987:
“has predictably failed to attract any Republicans . . . the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment does allow for a majority of the president’s cabinet, or ‘such other body as Congress may by law provide,’ to decide if an Oval Office occupant is unable to carry out his duties – and then to put it to a full congressional vote. Vice President Mike Pence would also have to agree, which could slow down the process – or speed it up if he wanted the levers of power for himself. […]
Raskin’s plan could have a fatal flaw, however: Legal scholars tend to agree that when the Constitution’s framers first provided for the replacement of a president with an ‘inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office,’ they weren’t talking about mere eccentricities. And when the 25th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification in 1965, the Senate agreed that ‘inability’ meant that a president was ‘unable to make or communicate his decisions’ and suffered from a ‘mental debility’ rendering him ‘unable or unwilling to make any rational decision.‘ […]
Raskin has made no bones about the fact that his intentions are specific to President Trump. ‘Trump’s mental incapacity is no laughing matter,’ he tweeted last month. ‘#25thAmendment gives us a way to deal with this problem.’ Raskin summed up his reasoning for Yahoo News on Friday: ‘In case of emergency, break glass.’ ‘I assume every human being is allowed one or two errant and seemingly deranged tweets,’ he said. ‘The question is whether you have a sustained pattern of behavior that indicates something is seriously wrong.’”
President Trump shows no signs of being insane. But if Democrats have their way, the Oversight Committee on Presidential Capacity will declare him mentally incompetent and replace him with a more palatable President Pence.
The Soviet Union — and China today — used to do that. The Communist Party would declare perfectly sane political dissidents as insane and imprison them in mental hospitals.
That is what America’s Democrats want to do with President Trump — and with you and me.
Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds