In an anonymous op-ed, a senior Trump administration official described the president as being so impulsive and unstable that there were discussions among cabinet officials of invoking the 25th Amendment to have him removed. Here’s what that entails.
In an unprecedented op end published on Sept. 5 by the New York Times, an anonymous senior Trump official changes that President Donald Trump is “amoral,” “anti-Democratic,” “impetuous” and “reckless.” The unnamed writer described himself as a senior appointed member of the Trump administration, who is also a member of the “resistance” inside the White House trying to save the country from Trump’s worst impulses. He reveals that he is not alone. “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the official wrote in the op-ed, titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis,” the author continued. “So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.” Here are five things to know about the 25th Amendment.
1. The 25th Amendment was passed by congress on July 6, 1965 and ratified by President Lyndon Johnson on Feb. 10, 1967.
It states that if the president is deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” the Vice President will take over once the Commander-in-Chief is removed.
2. The main purpose of the 25th Amendment is to give a process to remove a president when he/she can’t fulfill their duties.
It describes what should happen if the president resigns, dies while in office, or is removed by congress. The amendment can be invoked by the Vice President, principal officers of the executive departments and cabinet such as the president’s Chief of Staff, and Congress.
3. After the 25th Amendment is invoked, it would then take a two-thirds vote by the House of Representatives and the Senate to remove a sitting president.
It would take a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate to remove a sitting president. Since Republicans currently control both chambers, it would be unlikely that they would vote to remove Trump. But things could change after the 2018 midterm elections if either chamber flips Democrat.
4. The 25th Amendment has never been used.
No sitting president has had the 25th Amendment invoked against them, although there was a close call with Ronald Reagan. In 1987 his new Chief of Staff Howard Baker was advised by outgoing staff that Reagan was “inattentive, inept,” and “lazy” and that Baker needed prepared to be prepared to invoke the 25th Amendment according to the PBS program American Experience. In 1994, Reagan was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
5. The author of the op-ed makes it seem like things are dire within the White House and only getting worse.
“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic,” the official writes. “That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” It sounds like the author is hoping he is voted out in 2020, but saying “until he is out of office” could also mean if the 25th Amendment is invoked against Trump.