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What is the 25th Amendment, and could it be used to remove Trump?

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  • What is the 25th Amendment, and could it be used to remove Trump?

    Some people believe Donald Trump could be removed from office without impeachment by using the 25th amendment to the Constitution.

    Allegations that President Trump asked fired FBI Director James Comey to quash an investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn have caused some political analysts to resurrect a mechanism for the president’s removal from office: the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Conservative columnist Ross Douthat made waves Wednesday morning with a column in the New York Times advocating the use of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment — rather than impeachment — to remove Trump from office. And this isn’t the first time it’s been suggested. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen made a similar argument in January.

    As amendments go, the 25th is relatively exciting because it deals with the presidential line of succession. It has been referenced in Hollywood movies like “Air Force One” and popular television shows like “24.”

    And though it’s been invoked as means for ousting Trump, it’s not entirely clear that this would be possible. What is the 25th Amendment?

    Briefly, the 25th Amendment is intended to clarify what happens in the event of the president or vice president’s death, resignation or removal from office. It also outlines how an Oval Office vacancy should be filled if the president becomes disabled and cannot fulfill his or her duties.

    There are four separate sections to the amendment. Section 4, which concerns presidential disability, has gotten the most attention from Trump critics. Why was it created?

    In an interview with Yahoo News, Brian C. Kalt, a professor of law at Michigan State University, explained that the original U.S. Constitution had some small gaps concerning the presidential line of succession. Over the years, these concerns have been largely hypothetical and haven’t led to significant problems. But a consensus for the need to account for those problems intensified after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Congress passed the 25th Amendment on July 6, 1965, and was ratified on February 10, 1967. What is Section 1?

    The amendment’s first part states that if the president dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vice president will then become president.

    “That might seem obvious but it was actually a matter of quite a bit of controversy the first time it happened, when William Henry Harrison died in 1841,” Kalt said. “Vice President Tyler said that he was now president and other people looking at the Constitution said, ‘No, we think you’re just acting president.’” What is Section 2?

    Section 2 details the process for filling a vice presidential vacancy. If there is no vice president, the president shall nominate someone to fill that vacancy. He or she will take office following confirmation by a simple majority from the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    This section has twice been used since the amendment passed. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, then President Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford to be the new vice president. The following year, when Ford became president upon Nixon’s resignation, he appointed Nelson Rockefeller to take his place. What is Section 3?

    Section 3 states that should the president inform Congress that he is unable to “discharge the powers and duties of his office,” the vice president will become acting president until the president is once again capable.

    This has been used most often in situations in which the president is under sedation for a colonoscopy or a similar medical procedure. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both invoked the amendment in this way. What is Section 4?

    This is where things get a bit more complicated.

    Section 4 outlines what should happen in circumstances when the president is disabled but cannot or will not declare this fact. This might be the situation if the president is in a coma or his plane crashed, he is missing, the administration cannot communicate with him and no one knows whether he’s alive or dead.

    “In a situation like that,” Kalt said, “they thought it was important to have a process.”

    According to Section 4, if the vice president and a majority of his cabinet say that the president is disabled and cannot “discharge the powers and duties of his office,” then the vice president becomes president. Could Section 4 be used to oust Trump?

    In his New York Times column, Douthat argues that Trump’s situation is not what the “Cold War-era designers were envisioning” but that the president’s inability to “really govern” is testified to on a daily basis by his Cabinet.

    “Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor,” Douthat wrote.

    Kalt, who earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School and researches structural constitutional law and juries, argues, however, that using Section 4 in the case of Trump “would be a really bad idea.”

    He believes that commentators like Douthat and Cohen might think Trump is nuts and unfit for the office, but says that the fact that he’s still lucid and able to communicate would make problematic the use of Section 4 as a means for removing him from office.

    If Vice President Mike Pence and the majority of Trump’s Cabinet were to declare that Trump is disabled, Pence would temporarily assume the role of commander in chief, but then Trump could easily come back and declare that he is just fine. In this situation, Pence and the cabinet would then have four days to reiterate their declaration that he is disabled.

    If they failed to do this, Trump would have his power back. If they did reiterate their claim, then Congress would assemble within 48 hours and vote on whether they think Trump is able to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

    Pence would stay on as president if he could secure a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate that Trump is unable to be president.

    “If the president loses that vote he can always keep coming back and say, ‘Well, now I’m OK,’ and again Congress would have to vote,” Kalt said.

    Section 4, it bears pointing out, has never been used. The importance of the four-day period

    Kalt discusses the 25th Amendment in great detail in Chapter 3 of his book “Constitutional Cliffhangers.”

    He said that commentators often get a very important aspect of Section 4 wrong. According to his reading of the amendment, if the president were to say he is not disabled, he would not retake power immediately — because of the four-day waiting period.

    The law scholar said it would be very dangerous if the president were to regain his power right away.

    “If he took power back immediately, he would fire the Cabinet and they wouldn’t be able to say that he was disabled, and that’s not the right reading. They would say, ‘Well, you can’t fire us.’ The acting president would say that he’s president and the president would say he’s in charge. There would be two sets of people saying they are the Cabinet.” Here is the complete text of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment



    “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.”
    What is the 25th Amendment, and could it be used to remove Trump?
    Clyde Herrin's Blog

  • #2
    Based on this summation it appears that the 25th amendment basically makes it legal to perform a coup. Basically, if enough people within the government feel it necessary they can push a case that they feel the president is unfit (whether he is or not) to perform his duties, and have him replaced.

    Based on this if Trump wants to stay in office, despite the growing opposition, he will need to make sure he is surrounding himself with some truly loyal individuals. Right now it does not appear he has done that, unless of course all the reports of infighting with the White House is untrue.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Knotical View Post
      Based on this summation it appears that the 25th amendment basically makes it legal to perform a coup.
      I am inclined to agree with this. I hope that if Trump is removed from office it is by impeachment, but we should be aware of other possibilities.
      Clyde Herrin's Blog
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      • #4
        The Bible says our leaders are chosen by God. I disliked Obama tremendously, but I prayed for him and gave him what little respect I could find for him. I honestly believe President Trump would benefit so very much from our prayers. I see such hatred and rancor that is totally wrong. We now live in a time where young people refuse to serve their country, obey laws and are in favor of anarchy. I see people destroy property and laugh as if its fun.


        justme
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        • #5
          Careful what you wish for.
          Attached Files
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          • #6
            Originally posted by justme View Post
            The Bible says our leaders are chosen by God. I disliked Obama tremendously, but I prayed for him and gave him what little respect I could find for him. I honestly believe President Trump would benefit so very much from our prayers. I see such hatred and rancor that is totally wrong. We now live in a time where young people refuse to serve their country, obey laws and are in favor of anarchy. I see people destroy property and laugh as if its fun.


            justme
            I whole-heartedly agree. President Trump is showered and surrounded with powerful prayers of God-fearing, God-loving people. Psalm 91 is for him and for us who seek God Almighty. But lawless people shall be erased from the face of the earth and from the Book of Life.
            Last edited by PsalmOneCares; 06-01-2017, 06:56 AM.
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            • #7
              If anyone Should have been removed from office -- it was the Former Pres. Putting Clinton into office would have been a continuation of the past 8 yrs. God has allowed Trump to get into office. He's got a born-again believer as the Vice-Pres. Pray continually for both men and their families.
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              • #8
                Trump promotes the infighting to keep the 25th amendment from happening. The more the infighting, the less they trust one another and the less chance they will be able to come together enough of get that done.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by CatRandy View Post
                  Trump promotes the infighting to keep the 25th amendment from happening. The more the infighting, the less they trust one another and the less chance they will be able to come together enough of get that done.
                  Who are "they"?

                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CatRandy View Post
                    Trump promotes the infighting to keep the 25th amendment from happening. The more the infighting, the less they trust one another and the less chance they will be able to come together enough of get that done.
                    Just to clarify, you're promoting the assassination, removal and or death of our president?

                    William
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      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.

                      So basically the 25th amendment is carried out by the Vice President with a simple majority of the Presidents Cabinet.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CatRandy View Post
                        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.

                        So basically the 25th amendment is carried out by the Vice President with a simple majority of the Presidents Cabinet.
                        If you have qualms with Trump's agendas do you think you are going to be happy with an outspoken Christian Conservative like Mike Pence?

                        William
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Mike Pence isn't a malignant narcissist who is totally oblivious to anything other than himself and his own desires. Trump is dangerous. He would get us into a war that would kill millions of people, just to deflect attention from his administrations problems. I don't agree with Pence on many issues, but he is an experienced politician.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CatRandy View Post
                            Mike Pence isn't a malignant narcissist who is totally oblivious to anything other than himself and his own desires. Trump is dangerous. He would get us into a war that would kill millions of people, just to deflect attention from his administrations problems. I don't agree with Pence on many issues, but he is an experienced politician.
                            You know, for eight years I have suffered under Obama. I prayed for his presidency and our nation as a people. I do not think you or the liberals are ready for a true Christian conservative to be in office. I think Trump is a bridge between now and then.

                            You should feel very fortunate that a man right now is in power that even cares to entertain the liberal base.

                            William
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CatRandy
                              Sooner or later, through 25th amendment or through impeachment, your Fuehrer will be removed from office. What will you and your kind do then? Call it a coup and start a counter-coup? That seems to be the leading opinion among the far fight these days.
                              ROFL - A coup against or with what? Liberals want to take arms from the private citizens and put them only in the hands of the authorities. Surely, you are not one of those hypocrites that votes against a right that they exercise?

                              William
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