What is the 25th Amendment? If President Donald Trump could be removed from office as Nancy Pelosi questions his mental fitness

Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has called into question Donald Trump’s ability to remain in office

Friday, 9th October 2020, 4:55 pm
What is the 25th Amendment? If President Donald Trump could be removed from office as Nancy Pelosi questions his mental fitness (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
What is the 25th Amendment? If President Donald Trump could be removed from office as Nancy Pelosi questions his mental fitness (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

As speculation mounts over President Donald Trump’s health and mental state following his contracting coronavirus and receiving steroid-based treatments, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has questioned his fitness to remain in office.

The 80-year-old speaker of the house said that Mr Trump is in a state of “dissociation from reality” as she announced a press conference which will take place on 9 October to discuss the possibility of removing him from office.

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Why would the president be removed from office?

The president’s behaviour has been described by many as erratic since he left hospital a few days after testing positive for coronavirus.

In an interview with Fox, Mr Trump said: “I’m back because I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young. And so I’m lucky in that way”.

He has also said people should not be afraid of the virus, as he returned to work in the Oval Office, despite rules around self-isolating after contracting the virus.

He told Fox, “I don’t think I am contagious at all.”

Around 20 people who work in or around the White House have tested positive for coronavirus in the days since Mr Trump returned.

The president also said he thinks he didn’t need to go into hospital, saying of the virus that “I think it would have gone away by itself”.

How could he be removed?

Under the 25th amendment of the United States constitution, Section 4 provides a route through which a president can be stripped of their power if it is believed that they have become incapacitated.

The press conference will be held to discuss introducing a piece of legislation to create a “Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act”.

What is the 25th amendment?

The 25th amendment of the US constitution deals with the presidential succession, and what happens if the president is unable to continue in their role.

It’s section one of the 25th amendment which means the vice-president becomes president in the event that the head of state is removed from office, dies or resigns.

While a number of presidents have been assassinated and then replaced by their vice-presidents, as was the case with Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy, the 25th amendment was created to formalise the process following Mr Kennedy’s assasination.

Section two deals with what happens if there is a vice-presidential vacancy and section three gives presidents the ability to voluntarily transfer power to the vice president if they decide they are unable to continue in the role.

The fourth section of the 25th amendment allows for a panel to be created to review the president’s health and fitness for office, and ultimately remove them from office if they are unable to continue and unwilling to step down.

Section four is the most complicated aspect of the 25th amendment, and has never been invoked.

This is the part of the amendment which Ms Pelosi is intending to discuss.

Is it likely to work?

The plan would need the approval of the Vice-President, Mike Pence, and members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, which seems highly unlikely.

Responding to reports of the plan, Mr Trump tweeted in characteristically abrasive style, saying “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”

Mark Green, a Republican congressman said he “wouldn’t put it past” the speaker to “stage a coup”.

It would not be the first time that the Demorat-lead House of Representatives has moved to oust the President only to be knocked back by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Last year, after Mr Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the Senate did not convict him.