On Sunday, Michael Wolff, the author of the explosive new book “Fire and Fury,” told Meet the Press that the White House has been using the 25th Amendment as an adjective when it comes to President Trump. In fact, they apparently use it a lot.
“They would say … we’re not at 25th amendment level yet. And then this went on (to) ‘Okay, this is a little 25th Amendment,’ so the 25th Amendment is a concept that’s alive every day in the White House.”
The 25th Amendment, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a constitutional mechanism that allows the vice president, cabinet members and Congress to basically stage an intervention when they believe a president is physically or psychologically unfit to govern.
“At the very least, these individuals are authorized to call a temporary timeout,” NBC News explains.
The amendment was ratified in 1967, as Congress looked for a legislative way to assure checks and balances following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. It was created as a way to finesse the procedure for when a vice president must unexpectedly become president — as was the case with Lyndon B. Johnson after JFK. A key provision of the amendment is a declaration that the new president should swiftly nominate a VP, who would assume office after passing a vote in Congress.
Another component of the amendment is a clause that saying that should the President be “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet can step in to have him involuntarily removed.
According to Politico, the 25th Amendment requires two-thirds of both houses and the vice president’s consent to actually occur. Back when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the reasoning behind creating the 25th amendment was that if Kennedy had survived but been too incapacitated to lead the country, a provision needed to be place to appoint a new leader. When it comes to using the 25th amendment to oust President Trump, the situation is a bit different, as it would be based on his psychological wellbeing, not a physical or life-threatening injury. This could be harder to prove.
The White House has called Wolff’s book pure fiction, but reports that the administration had lawyers researching impeachment procedures go as far back as May. That would be a different ouster than calling in the 25th Amendment, but it amounts to possible evidence that a Trump exit has been on the mind of staffers for a while.
As medical experts and lawmakers continue to ring the alarm about Trump’s mental health, it’s likely that the 25th amendment debate won’t be going away any time soon.