Shortly after President Trump took office, the Russian collusion investigation heated up and the president began displaying volatile behavior inconsistent with historical norms, political observers started talking about an obscure part of the Constitution. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment provides for a president’s replacement if he becomes disabled and can’t or won’t resign: If the vice president, backed by a majority of the Cabinet, declare the president can’t “discharge the powers and duties of his office,” the vice president replaces him.
Yahoo News reports that 25 House Democrats, including the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, are trying to get that ball rolling. One of them has introduced a bill that would create a congressional oversight committee that could declare the president incapacitated and lead to his removal. Let us repeat that: it would remove Trump.
Thursday afternoon, soon after Trump tweeted attacks against MSNBC cable host Mika Brzezinski, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the chief sponsor of the bill, emailed colleagues, urging them to get behind the measure, writing it was of “enduring importance to the security of our nation.”
Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, discovered language in the 25th Amendment which specifies that the Cabinet doesn’t have to be the group which determines the president’s incapacity. It can be “such other body as Congress may by law provide.”
Raskin proposes a commission would be a nonpartisan panel appointed by congressional leaders composed of four physicians, four psychiatrists and three others — such as former presidents, vice presidents or other former senior U.S. government officials.
“In case of emergency, break glass,” Raskin told Yahoo News. “If you look at the record of things that have happened since January, it is truly a bizarre litany of events and outbursts … The question is whether you have a sustained pattern of behavior that indicates something is seriously wrong.”
After Trump’s Thursday morning tweets, four more Democrats signed on to the bill, Raskin’s office said Friday.
Unsurprisingly, no Republicans support it. And the Constitution is unambiguous about one point: Any action under the 25th Amendment requires the approval of the vice president.