Dem launches panel to review presidential removal procedures

Anne Wernikoff

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday launched a working group to review the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which outlines how a sitting president can be removed from office.

Blumenauer said he became concerned about the amendment’s potential shortcomings after growing worried over President Trump’s behavior. 

He pointed to Trump’s claim that there was sunny weather during his inauguration when, in fact, it rained. Trump and his aides have also repeatedly issued baseless claims about the inauguration’s crowd size and voter fraud in the presidential election.

{mosads}“Like many people, I’ve noticed renewed interest in the 25th Amendment, as we’ve seen erratic behavior out of the White House and inability of Donald Trump to even tell whether it rained on him during his inaugural speech and repeating false statements that are demonstrably wrong,” Blumenauer said in a House floor speech.

The 25th Amendment, established 50 years ago after President Kennedy’s assassination, states that the vice president assumes the Oval Office in the event that the president is removed from office, resigns or dies.

It stipulates that the vice president and a majority of Cabinet officers may declare the president unfit to serve. The vice president would then take over as president.

If a president refuses to step down from office, two-thirds of both the House and Senate must then agree in order to force the president out.

Blumenauer was skeptical, however, that the procedure would work in cases of mental or emotional incapacity, especially in the modern, highly polarized political environment. He noted that Cabinet members might not know the president well or would feel partisan pressure not to go against him, despite their own misgivings. 

Instead, Blumenauer suggested that a bipartisan panel comprised of former living presidents and vice presidents could determine whether a president is fit to serve instead of the Cabinet.

“For a mentally unstable, paranoid or delusional president, the 25th Amendment has no guarantee of its application. In fact, it’s likely that it would fail,” Blumenauer said.

“I submit that the best fail-safe to a president who is emotionally unstable would be to impanel our previous presidents and vice presidents to make that determination,” he said. “We need to have a mechanism that can be reliable, command public confidence and be above politics.”

Blumenauer didn’t explicitly suggest that Trump has a mental disorder. But his case specifically focused on how a president could be removed if it becomes apparent there is a problem with how their mind functions.

“We’ve made real progress with mental illness,” Blumenauer said. “We’re making real strides in terms of treatment and acceptance. But all of this requires access to help. And this drama should not play out with somebody whose fingers are on the nuclear buttons and whose every pronouncement can unsettle diplomatic conditions, affect war and peace, and the global economy.”

He’s not the first Democrat to raise the topic of Trump’s psychological condition. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) claimed during a Sunday interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that “a few” Republican colleagues have expressed concern to him about Trump’s mental health.

“We all have this suspicion that, you know, he lies a lot. He says things that aren’t true. That’s the same as lying, I guess,” Franken said.

“That is not the norm for a president of the United States or actually for a human being.” 

Tags Al Franken Donald Trump Earl Blumenauer

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