Reminder: The 25th Amendment requires political apocalypse

People are again talking about using the 25th Amendment as a means to remove President Donald Trump from off...

Posted: Sep 22, 2018 4:13 PM
Updated: Sep 22, 2018 4:13 PM

People are again talking about using the 25th Amendment as a means to remove President Donald Trump from office, and they're doing it more seriously.

The New York Times reported Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wanted to record conversations with Trump after the President fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017 and that Rosenstein also discussed enlisting Cabinet members to consider using the 25th Amendment.

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Political Figures - US

US federal government

White House

Rosenstein denied the report Friday.

Earlier this month an anonymous administration official said in a New York Times op-ed that Cabinet secretaries had considered employing the 25th Amendment, but decided against pursuing it.

After that opinion piece, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said it's time to employ the US government's equivalent of a bomb blast door to get rid of Trump.

"If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment," Warren told CNN. "The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the Vice President and senior officials think the President can't do his job. It does not provide that senior officials go around the President -- take documents off his desk, write anonymous op-eds. ... Every one of these officials have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It's time for them to do their job."

We already knew that Steve Bannon, Trump's former top strategist, was at one point convinced his Cabinet would mutiny and depose him using the 25th Amendment.

But this bears repeating for the third time: We still feel a very, very long way away from the kind of political momentum it would require.

Why?

Just look at who is publicly calling for its use: Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

Who is not publicly calling for the 25th Amendment? Any serious Republicans with power. Even the anonymous senior administration official said the 25th Amendment was discussed and rejected early in Trump's presidency.

"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. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it's over," wrote the official. That does not sound like a serious effort, according to the official, whoever he or she is.

Speaking of, nearly every Trump Cabinet member has denied writing the op-ed. The piece describes officials subtly steering the ship of state around Trump, not trying to throw him overboard.

It's a majority of those Cabinet officials, under the 25th Amendment, who would have to vote, twice, to kick Trump out of office. Then supermajorities in the House and Senate would have to follow suit in short order.

What would it take to employ the 25th Amendment? As we've written before, there are a few scenarios that leap to mind (and read these articles by Brian Kalt and David Pozen for some more context) in which the 25th Amendment could be invoked:

  • The President was completely and totally incapacitated after a freak medical accident.
  • The President goes missing, walks off the job or is kidnapped.

In either of these examples, the President would be unable to dispute the action of his Cabinet, so invoking the amendment would just take the Cabinet writing to Congress.

What about something like avoidable, imminent nuclear war? It's hard to imagine all of this happening quickly enough to be effective. You'd almost need his subordinates to willfully break the law and ignore his order to launch a nuclear attack -- or be prepared to -- to delay action in the heat of the moment. There could be precedent for that, by the way. Richard Nixon's defense secretary James Schlesinger later said that in the final days of the Nixon presidency, staffers had been instructed to check with him or then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger before launching an attack.

Speaking of Nixon, impeachment, the serious idea of which also seems far-fetched at this point with regard to Trump, is written into the Constitution as a more appropriate avenue to remove a President.

This post was originally published September 6 and has been updated.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25870

Reported Deaths: 1097
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8738633
Ramsey3189134
Stearns204714
Nobles15585
Anoka147073
Dakota138859
Washington67033
Olmsted65411
Kandiyohi5051
Rice4802
Scott4552
Clay43529
Mower3662
Wright3322
Todd3300
Sherburne2482
Carver2242
Benton1813
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Martin1325
Freeborn1300
St. Louis11814
Pine900
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Watonwan780
Cottonwood770
Carlton750
Crow Wing754
Unassigned7411
Lyon711
Otter Tail710
Goodhue704
Chisago641
Polk612
Itasca5610
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison480
Le Sueur461
Meeker450
Douglas440
Becker410
Jackson400
Murray390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca270
Rock230
Mille Lacs221
Pennington210
Faribault200
Swift190
Wabasha180
Beltrami180
Brown172
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Norman140
Kanabec121
Marshall120
Cass122
Pipestone120
Wilkin113
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope90
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Lincoln60
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Redwood60
Renville50
Traverse40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Houston20
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20264

Reported Deaths: 574
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4406134
Woodbury281737
Black Hawk175946
Linn96779
Dallas92924
Buena Vista9181
Marshall90118
Johnson6169
Wapello60714
Muscatine56341
Crawford5422
Tama40828
Scott36810
Dubuque35121
Louisa34611
Pottawattamie29610
Sioux2900
Jasper26317
Wright1940
Washington1928
Warren1530
Plymouth1392
Allamakee1204
Story1181
Mahaska9712
Poweshiek918
Henry722
Bremer696
Boone670
Des Moines661
Clinton651
Clarke640
Taylor590
Guthrie533
Cedar491
Hamilton450
Benton441
Webster441
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones370
Cherokee360
Marion340
Clayton343
Osceola340
Iowa330
Buchanan330
Jefferson330
Cerro Gordo301
Madison292
Lee280
Davis270
Fayette270
Dickinson270
Harrison260
Sac250
Lyon250
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Clay210
Grundy200
Mills200
Floyd191
Emmet190
Hardin190
Lucas191
Delaware191
Humboldt181
Butler171
Hancock160
Franklin150
Page140
Pocahontas140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Appanoose143
Audubon131
Jackson130
Greene130
Kossuth130
Carroll130
Chickasaw120
Cass120
Howard120
Winnebago110
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Montgomery81
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun40
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned00
Rochester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 74°
Mason City
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 76°
Albert Lea
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 80°
Charles City
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
Another round of severe weather tonight
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events