25th amendment: what is the US Constitution amendment and could Mike Pence invoke it to remove Donald Trump?

Lawmakers are calling for the removal of Donald Trump from office, with impeachment and the invoking of the 25th amendment both supported

Astonishing scenes of Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building gripped the US and the world on January 6.

The charge on the nation’s capital while lawmakers were approving the election of president-elect Joe Biden turned violent with four dead, including one women by gunshot.

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The outgoing president’s charged rhetoric and his subsequent failure to call rioters from the Capitol has been blamed by many for the violent scenes in the country’s capital.

Rioters stormed the Capitol Building on Wednesday night (Getty Images)
Rioters stormed the Capitol Building on Wednesday night (Getty Images)

Fears of further insurrections in the lead up to Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20 has led to many calling for the removal of Mr Trump from office.

One of the more extreme methods being floated by some lawmakers and members of the cabinet is the invoking of the 25th amendment.

What is the 25th amendment?

The 25th amendment contains passages detailing procedures for the removal of a president from office if they are no longer able to do their job, and are unwilling to leave voluntarily.

Section 4 of the amendment states: “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.

Ratified in 1967, the 25th amendment was introduced over fears of presidential disability during the Cold War, following the assassination of President John F Kennedy and the ill health of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Who has called for use of the 25th amendment?

Congressman Ted Lieu was one of a swathe of Democrats who called for use of the 25th amendment.

He tweeted: “This is why the 25th amendment exists, when the president has ‘lost it.’ If Trump doesn’t resign, then [vice president] Mike Pence needs to start the process to remove [Donald Trump] ASAP.”

Congressman David Cicilline also supported its usage, tweeting: “I am sending a letter with [Ted Lieu] and our colleagues on the house judiciary committee, calling on vice president Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to remove Donald Trump from office after today’s events”.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence tweeted: “I cannot fulfil my duties as a member of Congress if I do not stand up and call for the removal of Donald Trump from office to save our country. The vice president and cabinet should invoke the 25th amendment, or Congress should impeach and remove the president.”

Delaware Senator hinted at its use, tweeting: “I have said repeatedly today that Donald Trump should resign immediately. If he refuses, then we must find ways to safeguard our democracy for the next 14 days and remove him from office.”

Vermont governor Phil Scott, a Republican, also called for the president to be removed from office. He tweeted: “Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress”.

How else could Trump be removed from office?

Some lawmakers have called for Trump to be impeached and removed from office.

The House of Representatives can impeach Mr Trump if they bring forward charges of “high crime or misdemeanors”. Some have accused the president of sedition which would fit the definition of “high crime”.

If a majority of the House approves bringing forward charges, the president would then be tried by the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress. For Trump to be removed from office two-thirds of the Republican controlled Senate must vote in favour of convicting and removing the president.