Using the 25th Amendment against President Trump is delusional because every step of the process gives the president the benefit of doubt, says a constitutional expert.
The 25th Amendment, ratified after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, provides the procedure for replacing the president in the event of “death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation” – and the anti-Trump movement is hoping to overthrow the president through the “incapacitation” clause.
“The procedure is laid out in stages, and every stage gives the president the benefit of the doubt,” wrote the Tenth Amendment Center’s Rob Natelson. “A president with a minimal ability to respond can probably defeat any effort to remove him from power.”
“If he has support from a significant minority in even one congressional chamber he certainly can defeat any such effort.”
In other words, provoking the 25th Amendment is better suited for anti-Trump fundraising than actually removing the president.
“This procedure is much tougher than impeachment-and-removal,” Natelson continues. “Impeachment requires only a majority of the House, and there are no constitutional time limits.”
“Under the 25th Amendment, however, if a minority in either single chamber can stall proceedings for about three weeks, the president wins.”
But the procedure could die long before then; the first step, for example, would require the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet to send Congress a “written declaration that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
If the president responds by sending a written declaration of Congress that “no inability exists,” then the VP and the Cabinet has four days to counteract.
That would give a non-incapacitated president plenty of time to fire those cabinet members and stop the proceedings because newly-hired replacements wouldn’t presumably fit the 25th Amendment’s requirement for “principal officers” who can discharge the president.
Simply put, the “incapacitation” clause was written specifically for a president who is physically incapacitated and thus cannot easily respond to 25th Amendment proceedings which are stacked in his favor, according to Natelson.