This past week has been more of a trash fire than normal, even for the Trump administration’s standards. Not only is he threatening a government shutdown over building a border wall, but Trump also announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria via Twitter, a move Secretary of Defense James Mattis defied by sending in his resignation. And let’s not forget the recent disputes over Trump’s potential (probable?) involvement with Saudi Arabia in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, either. Reacting to this show of poor leadership, CA. Representative Eric Swalwell said he thinks it may be time to enact the 25th Amendment. After Trump tweeted that Mitch McConnell should use the “nuclear option” to get his $5 billion in border wall funding, Swalwell quote-tweeted only this:
Section four of the 25th Amendment would, with the compliance of the vice president and members of the cabinet, strip the sitting president of his power, allowing the vice president to act in his stead. This section of the amendment has never been used, likely because of the rigorous steps it requires officials to go through. Mike Pence and a majority of cabinet members would have to find Trump “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Trump would then dispute the claim, which would send the decision over to Congress, resulting in a removal from office if two thirds of the House and Senate found him unfit.
Time will tell whether Swalwell is serious about his claims or not, but odds are it’s unlikely. The 25th Amendment has been whispered about for as long as Trump has been in office and many say it’s an ineffective, if not futile move to try and persuade so many in the Trump camp to flip sides. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman suggested in a September interview with MSNBC that it’s treated mostly as a joke, saying, “Whenever he [Trump] did something that was just so insane and so crazy and unhinged, when he would flip positions from one hour to the next, we’d just hashtag it ‘TFA’ [25th Amendment] and keep moving.”
At this point, the most likely avenue through which Trump may be removed from office lies with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team in the Russia probe. It’s unlikely that Democrats would invoke the 25th and risk interfering with Mueller’s continually growing case against the president.