Democrats will push to form a commission to probe President Donald Trump’s health in their latest bid to remove him from office.
During her weekly press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters to come back tomorrow for an announcement about the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the President to be removed from office if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow,” Ms Pelosi said. “We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”
Ms Pelosi declined to answer further questions but returned to her attacks on the Trump administration for allegedly concealing information about the White House outbreak.
“Mr President, when was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive?” she said. “Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this spread into – made a hot spot of the White House.”
The President fired back on Twitter, “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”
Mr Trump later retweeted Republican Congressman Mark Green, who said he “wouldn’t put it past Speaker Pelosi to stage a coup”.
“She has already weaponized impeachment, what’s to keep her from weaponizing the 25th amendment?” he said. “We need a new Speaker!”
Mr Trump told Fox News on Thursday morning that he is “feeling good” and does not believe he is “contagious at all”.
In a subsequent statement, Democrats said Ms Pelosi and congressman Jamie Raskin would hold a media conference on Friday morning “to discuss the introduction of the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act”.
The legislation will create the Commission, which is “the body and process called for in the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government”, the statement said.
HOW DOES THE 25TH AMENDMENT WORK?
In this context, those raising the 25th Amendment are specifically referring to Section 4.
Section 4, which has never been invoked, outlines the mechanism by which the President can be removed against his will.
It requires the Vice President, in this case Mike Pence, and a majority of Cabinet officers “or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” to send a “written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” to the House Speaker – Ms Pelosi – and the President pro tempore of the Senate, currently Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
If that happens, “the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President”.
The Democrats’ announcement relates to the “or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” part.
Under the 25th Amendment, Congress is able to pass a law to create a body that would sign off on the declaration, but there is more or less zero chance the Republican-controlled Senate would go along with it.
And the declaration would have to be signed off by Mr Pence.
In other words, while the latest move is the furthest Democrats have officially pushed the 25th Amendment line of attack, it will ultimately amount to nothing more than a stunt.
Interestingly, Mr Pence – fresh from his debate with Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris – has abruptly cancelled a planned trip to Indianapolis where he was to cast his vote with his wife at the Indianapolis City-County Building.
His office denied the cancellation was due to health reasons, saying the couple had both tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday.
“Nobody’s sick. There’s no positive tests,” spokesman Devin O’Malley told the Indy Star. “The VP is planning on travelling on Saturday and Monday. We’ll have more information on the Vice President’s schedule next week – soon.”