Presidential Removal and Trump

 

The 25th Amendment

Article I Section 2 clause 6 of the original Constitution:
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President...

Proposed amendment introduced Jan. 6 1965; passed by Congress July 6, 1965; ratified Feb. 10, 1967.

  • Section 1: [Clarifying Article II, the VP becomes President upon the latter's removal, resignation, or death]
  • Section 2: [Filling a vacancy in the Vice Presidency -- note confirmation by majority in both houses]
  • Section 3: [Voluntary, temporary relinquishing of powers by the Pres to the VP]
  • Section 4:
    Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

    Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Instances in which Section 4 might have come into play

  • Garfield assassination
  • Wilson stroke
  • Eisenhower heart attack
  • (note also: worries prompted by Cold War, JFK assassination)
  • Reagan?

From Jane Mayer, "Worrying about Reagan" (The New Yorker (Feb 24, 2011): "By early 1987, several top White House advisers were so concerned about Reagan’s mental state that they actually talked among themselves about invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment."

 

Previous Presidents subjected to impeachment proposals in Congress

Seven times (counting Truman twice) in the first 183 years

  • John Tyler (vetoes)
  • James Buchanan (corruption scandal)
  • Andrew Johnson (Reconstruction/Tenure of Office Act)
  • Ulysses S. Grant (corruption scandal)
  • Herbert Hoover (treatment of the "Bonus Army" demonstrators)
  • Harry S. Truman (MacArthur firing and steel seizure)

In the past 45 years

  • Richard M. Nixon (Watergate)
  • Ronald Reagan (Grenada; Iran-Contra)
  • George H. W. Bush (Gulf War, from Henry Gonzales (TX))
  • Bill Clinton (foreign campaign funds, 1997; Lewinsky, 1998)
  • George W. Bush (35 articles in one resolution, from Dennis Kucinich (OH) & Robert Wexler (FL))
  • Barack Obama (re Drone program, by Walter Jones (NC); verbal advocacy of impeachment on many issues, including by Kucinich re: Libya intervention)
  • Donald Trump (see below)

 

Trump impeachment possibilities

Resolutions submitted by a small group of Democrats -- Al Green (TX), Steve Cohen (TN), and others) during 2017, over the following issues

  • Muslim ban
  • Obstruction of justice (Comey firing)
    • Some Republicans mused about impeachment following Comey firing, and occasionally thereafter: Justin Amash (MI), Walter Jones (NC), Carlos Curbelo (FL) (see this article from The Hill).
  • Violation of the foreign emoluments clause
    • Article I, Section 9, Clause 8: "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."
  • Violation of the domestic emoluments clause
    • Article II, Section 1, Clause 7: "The President...shall [receive a salary], and he shall not receive...any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.""
    • proposed rental of space in Trump Tower by DoD; facilities in Mar-a-Lago by the Secret Service.
  • Undermining the independence of the federal judiciary (comments about courts)
  • Undermining the freedom of the press ("enemies of the people")

A nice discussion of the emoluments issues: Constitutional Rights Foundation, "The Emoluments Clause and the President."

Other possible discrete issues:

  • Campaign finance violations? (e.g. Stormy Daniels payments)
  • Financial or tax law violations in connection with Trump Organization, Trump Foundation? Especially relevant if ongoing corruption is involved.
  • Foreign business & political entanglements => conflicts of interest (not necessarily crimes)
  • Conspiracy in Russia election interference?
    • hacking and email thefts
    • foreign (in-kind) campaign contributions
    • whether instigating; helping to carry out; or knowingly using fruits of criminal action
  • Obstruction/perjury in connection with any of these

 


This page compiled by Randall Calvert ©2018. Email comments and questions to calvert at wustl