Look on the bright side. At least Democrats have begun checking the Constitution first before coming up with schemes to remove a duly elected president from office. Last Friday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) suggested that Congress could remove Donald Trump through the mechanism of the 25th Amendment (via Townhall’s Leah Barkoukis and Grabien):
KEILAR: “I want to talk about something you tweeted yesterday. You said, ‘Describing POTUS as unhinged at today’s press conference is kind. This is scary. #25thAmendment.’ And the 25th amendment details the procedure for replacing the president in the event of death, removal, resignation or incapacitation. Can you explain that in more than 140 characters for us, what you want to see there?”
SPEIER: “The 25th Amendment is there to, you know, you provide a backstop if in fact the president becomes incapacitated.”
KEILAR: “Do you believe he’s incapacitated?”
SPEIER: “I think that we have got to be very careful. He needs to start acting presidential. He needs to start recognizing that as president you don’t go around and shoot down the media as if it’s, you know, some kind of a game you’re playing. You don’t take on people saying nasty things about them. You don’t take foreign leaders and hang up the phone with them or besmirch them as he has with some of the European leaders. He has got to get a grip. So the 25th Amendment is there if a president becomes incapacitated. Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated, his wife actually was the president in waiting for most of the end of his term. Certainly Eleanor Roosevelt played a role. I don’t believe that Melania Trump is in a position to do that but certainly —“
KEILAR: “Is this a quip or are you very serious about this?”
SPEIER: “I’m serious about conveying to the President that he has got to get serious. That we have efforts under way around the globe attempting to exploit our dysfunction right now. He’s got to act presidential, he’s got to stop being a campaigner.”
It’s not just Speier floating this strategy, as Byron York points out. Fellow Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer has launched a “working group to clarify and strengthen the 25th Amendment” in anticipation of its use in the near future. York also points out how the media has taken a sudden interest in presidential succession.
Well, there are only a few problems with that approach, one of which is that Congress would have to have the Vice President in on the action. The language of the 25th Amendment allows Congress to take some role in that process, but is much more specific about the VP requirement:
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.
This language was included in anticipation of a disabling event so sudden that the president could not certify it himself, at which point the temporary authority would need to shift to the Vice President immediately. It’s clear that a declaration of incapacitation has to come from the Vice President and also a majority of the Cabinet, or and also another body selected by Congress to litigate the matter. Note too that Republicans hold control of Congress and aren’t likely to agree to a separate body other than the Cabinet for that declaration.
The odds of Mike Pence calling for an involuntary removal of Trump from office over rhetorical style are basically nil, as it should be. Without that, the process simply doesn’t start. If Congress wants to remove a president, the Constitution provides another mechanism for that purpose — impeachment and removal, which Democrats also have no hope of invoking.
But even if Pence started the process, what would be the ultimate outcome? As Amanda Carpenter noted on CNN Sunday in the video below, it would be President Mike Pence, who would then appoint a Republican vice president to succeed him. Jason Kander, who ran for the Senate and lost to Roy Blunt, isn’t exactly making a case for a rebound in Missouri, where Trump won 57/38 over Clinton while Blunt edged by Kander 49/46. Rick Santorum does all he can to keep from bursting out in laughter.
Democrats are doing themselves no favors with all of these efforts to find exotic ways of dealing with a lost election. They want to paint Trump as unfit, but to most Americans looking from the outside in, it’s Democrats who are losing their minds over having been cast into the political wilderness. After all, Trump is performing about the same as he did on the campaign trail, and that was good enough for a 306-232 Electoral College victory. And nothing says “in touch with the common people” like career Beltway politicians cooking up backroom schemes to remove a duly elected president 30 days into his term, for being exactly who he was during the campaign.
Trump might need to rein in his rhetoric a bit at times, but it’s clearly the Democrats who need to “get a grip” on themselves. Their desperation has exposed them as the “unhinged” party.