A New York Times op-ed has renewed talk about the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8) is using the op-ed to push for a bill he is sponsoring that would create a body to review the President’s fitness for office in case of a 25th Amendment removal attempt.
After a White House staffer anonymously wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, stating that President Donald J. Trump was so unstable in the early days of his presidency that White House staffers discussed a constitutional removal process through the 25th Amendment.
“Congress has a constitutional duty under the 25th Amendment to define the process by which a judgment of presidential incapacity can be made if circumstances render such a judgment necessary, in this administration or any other,” Raskin said. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in co-sponsoring this bill, which is of pressing and enduring importance to the security of our nation.”
The op-ed makes claims that members of his own administration believe Trump is mentally and morally unfit to be President and work behind the scene to sway his decisions to more agreeable positions. Trump has denied all the allegations in the op-ed, calling the anonymous writer of the op-ed “gutless.”
The writer of the op-ed states that members of Trump’s administration considered invoking the 25th Amendment on President Trump, but instead decided to try to influence the administration’s policy decisions from behind the scenes.
The 25th Amendment was created after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While the Constitution outlines that the vice president would succeed the president if he or she were to die in office, the 25th Amendment outlines a procedure for the vice president to take over if the president were physically or mentally incapacitated.
While the 25th Amendment allows for temporary removal of presidential powers, which has been previously used while president have been under anesthesia while in surgery, it has never been used or attempted to be used to remove a president. The 25th Amendment is a second way to remove a president after impeachment.
Under the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and a majority of the members of the Cabinet or another body Congress sets up declare the president is unfit to serve, the powers of the president transfer to the vice president. Raskin’s bill would help set up a permanent standing body made up of former presidents, vice presidents, secretaries of state and doctors to review challenges to any president’s fitness for office.
Raskin said the body of his bill would serve only to conduct medical evaluations of the President’s fitness and would operate at the discretion of Congress.
“But this official [who wrote the op-ed] says his or her White House group has decided instead to work covertly to subvert the President’s ‘detrimental’ impulses, and bizarre and erratic decision-making,” Raskin said. “But the 25th Amendment, adopted in 1967, does not leave this judgment solely to the Cabinet.”
However, even under a 25th Amendment process, two-thirds of Congress would still need to vote to remove the president.
Raskin’s bill has 65 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. While Raskin contends that his bill intends to help set up the process in case the 25th Amendment was revoked during any presidency, critics have noted that the bill takes indirect aim at Trump, who many people have called unfit to be president. Raskin’s bill would be the first among many steps to remove him from office.