The Twisted Hell of a 25th Amendment move against Trump — and how he will beat it.
Trump is unstable, but Pence with the cabinet could pull a Caine Mutiny with the 25th Amendment and get him out of office.
Well, progressives, that would be twisted hell for our country. And it will not work.
There is a flaw in the 25th Amendment that will allow Trump to circumvent its intent if invoked.
Let us walk through the relevant section 4.
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 it will take Mike Pence AND a majority (8 out of 15) executive department cabinet officials to sign Declaration #1. An unlikely lift considering this sycophantic weight, but assume Pence and the cabinet prayer group get a word from Jesus and they move forward. Mike Pence is 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
There is no waiting period after Declaration #1. Trump will immediately send Declaration #2 stating no inability exists. Pence is Acting President for fifteen minutes, then Trump is back and now knows exactly who tried to dump him.
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.
Trump is President again starting from Declaration #2, leaving Pence and the principal officers to move the disability decision to Congress with Declaration #3.
The Flaw is this troubling space between Declarations #2 and #3. Newly re-instated President Counter-Punchy will immediately fire conspiring cabinet members. And he will keep firing their next-in-lines until he finds acting secretaries who will swear blood oaths.
The ability to fire secretaries is an interesting question in itself. Common practice is for secretaries to resign when asked. There would be a fight over the firings. Cabinet officials could refuse to leave, insist on removal through impeachment. Andrew Johnson, though, cleared a way for presidents to fire secretaries. Then, are any acting secretaries truly principal officers of an executive department as the amendment intended? So with the status of fired secretaries and any replacements in question, who, outside of unfireable Pence, is left with the constitutional authority to sign Declaration #3 after Trump fires everyone else.
And there is a 4 day window to sort out who can sign Declaration #3. Otherwise, you are back to Step 1.
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.
Up to 21 days with an endless news cycle saturation about Step 3 fights over fired secretaries, acting secretaries and whether the disability question should be in Congress in the first place. A continuous roaring exchange on competence, narcissistic personalities and sociopathy for Step 4. President Counter-Punchy moving through the world like a wounded bull elephant. Republicans in full-coward retreat. Democrats needing to choose between the devil they know and Pence, politically the same and willing to push the button for Jesus.
Welcome to hell.
The 25th amendment was meant to be difficult. Its drafters were concerned about disloyal vice-presidents and other House of Cards machinations. But it cannot work as it stands in dealing with Trump. The problem is current law relies on Secretaries he can fire between Steps 2 and 3 and monkeywrench the entire process.
Congress can fix this by designating the other body the amendment refers to as judge for presidential disability. People Trump cannot fire. Or they can just impeach him for all the offences he has committed that have nothing to do with any disability.
For more information, here is the Congressional Research Service article I read to help me understand the problem.