Warren: Time to use 25th Amendment on Trump

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), seizing on the New York Times' op-ed from an anonymous administration official, says it's time to use constitutional powers to remove President Donald Trump from office if top officials do not think he can do the job.

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 2:06 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 2:06 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.

Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, said Thursday 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. ... Everyone of these officials have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It's time for them to do their job."

Her call follows the revelation by an anonymous senior administration official in The New York Times that early in his presidency, some officials actually discussed it.

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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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