No doubt you’ve heard the media flurry about President Trump and the I-word. We’re talking impeachment, here. But despite all the media blather, the fact is there’s not much of a case for ousting the President.
News reports of whispers of impeachment in Washington aren’t new. It seems that since Inauguration Day, some folks have been plotting ways to usher Trump out of office. Recent reports are linked to allegations of a private conversation between Trump and the former FBI director James Comey. According to the allegations, President Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Trump officials are adamant that the conversation never happened.
Without delving into the he-said, she-said, it’s important to consider whether there is any basis to impeach Trump over his actions thus far. Has he been accused of any crime? The answer is no.
So, now, some people are turning to the 25th Amendment to the United States’ Constitution in an effort to oust Trump.
I’m no constitutional law scholar, but this argument seems a bit thin to me. Are we grasping at straws? Maybe. Maybe straws are the only things Trump opponents can get their hands on. Let’s break it down.
The 25th Amendment was enacted in 1967 and gave guidelines for what happens if the president is removed, resigns, becomes incapacitated, or dies during office. Section 4 addresses what happens if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” – meaning that the president has been deemed unfit.
Here’s the rub. Some folks want to hang their hats on this section and declare Trump unfit to hold office. But this won’t happen. For perspective, this section of the 25th Amendment has never been invoked. And the section is aimed to address things like strokes, heart attacks, or Alzheimer’s disease – not simply unpopularity among some Americans.
So where does that leave us? Right now, there is a lot of sensationalism surrounding Trump and impeachment. It feels like we’re living in an episode of “Veep” or “House of Cards,” instead of in the real world.
At the end of the day, talks of impeachment and the 25th Amendment seem desperate. Just last week, Ross Douthat from The New York Times wrote that Trump should be removed, in essence, because he is childish and mentally unfit to serve our country. Like I said, I’m no constitutional law scholar, but that argument seems much more lodged in emotion than in the law.
When we look at the law, here’s how the 25th Amendment works. The Vice President and a majority of the cabinet would have to first vote to remove the president. Then, if the president disagrees, he can declare that “no inability exists” and resume power. If that happens, the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet would have to repeat the vote, and Congress would have to get involved. Both houses would have to vote, with a two-thirds majority, to get the president out of office.
What’s the takeaway? There’s almost a zero chance that Pence would make such a move, let alone Trump’s cabinet members. And remember, we also have a Republican Congress. So, as it stands, the odds are in Trump’s favor. Our President’s opponents can huff and puff all they want, but they won’t blow the White House down.