MFor at least the third time in Donald Trump’s term of office, the American media have been excitedly discussing the “25th Amendment” since Wednesday evening: the constitutional amendment passed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which regulates how a president can be declared incapacitated. Is there really a new dynamic in the cabinet after Trump not only not condemned the insurgents for storming the Capitol, but honored them as “patriots”? Is it suddenly conceivable that Vice President Mike Pence will take over office for a few days until Joe Biden takes office on January 20? Or is it just wishful thinking by some Trump critics?
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CNN spoke of “four Republican officials and cabinet members” who were in favor; two others are calling for a new impeachment process in Congress, according to CNN. Names were not mentioned.
With the approval of a majority of the 15 cabinet ministers, Pence could tell Congress leaders “that the president is incapable of exercising the rights and duties of his office.” From that moment on, Trump’s duties and powers would pass to him; but he would remain president. As soon as Trump wrote a letter saying that he could exercise his office, he would be in charge again.
It would be different if Pence and the majority of ministers, for their part, insisted on their opinion and sent another letter. Then Congress would have to decide, but the hurdle is high: two thirds of all MPs and all senators would have to approve the transfer of office to pence.
But that would hardly matter this time. Because according to the constitution there is three weeks time for the vote. In theory, Trump would therefore remain a president without powers until January 20; Pence would command the armed forces. The Senate could also decide later that Trump may never hold office again. There is, of course, no constitutional practice for all of this. The clause has never been applied.
It would be different with an impeachment: The hurdle would be a little lower, since the House of Representatives can resolve an impeachment charge with a simple majority, “only” the Senate would have to declare Trump guilty with a two-thirds majority. In practice, however, only a large majority in Congress could change the rules for impeachment proceedings so that they could be carried out within a few days.
Such an anti-Trump majority is not emerging in Congress, even after the Capitol was stormed and the President praised the perpetrators. Several hours later, 138 Republican MPs and seven Senators supported the Trump friends’ motion not to confirm the Pennsylvania election result.