New Pelosi-Raskin bill would establish panel to study Trump’s capacity to lead under 25th Amendment

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) plan to introduce legislation Friday creating a panel to study whether President Donald Trump is fit to execute the duties of his office under the 25th Amendment.

According to a media advisory, Pelosi and Raskin plan to introduce the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act, which would create a panel aimed at determining whether the president is capable of continuing to lead the country.

Pelosi teased the move in a press conference on Thursday, veering away from discussing President Trump’s decision to cut off negotiations for a new pandemic stimulus bill after the Speaker has refused for weeks to strip out a host of unnecessary measures including nationalizing mail-in voting.

“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment. But not to take attention away from the subject we have now,” said the California Democrat.

The 25th Amendment deals with presidential succession. The amendment was proposed by Congress and ratified by states following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and “provides the procedures for replacing the president or vice president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation,” according to an explainer by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.

The amendment was utilized in the early 1970s when then-President Richard Nixon nominated then-Rep. Gerald R. Ford (R-Mich.) to become vice president after his VP, Spiro Agnew, resigned amid scandal. Ford would go on to replace Nixon after the Watergate incident engulfed his presidency and Congress began efforts to impeach him.

Democrats have considered removing Trump under the 25th Amendment before. Less than a month after the president took office, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced on Twitter he was “starting the process of fixing a fatal flaw” in the amendment, charging that Trump was “unstable.”

“The erratic behavior of Donald Trump has raised new questions about his mental and emotional capacity to discharge the tremendous burdens of the most powerful position in the world,” he wrote in an accompanying op-ed for an Oregon newspaper.

“It is the president who has the ability to launch nuclear weapons, unleashing untold devastation on the world,” Blumenauer continued.

“Presidents can create diplomatic chaos or move markets with the most carefully crafted declarations, let alone late-night tweets with the grammar and misspellings of a fifth-grader and decidedly unpresidential tone,” he wrote, noting the “flaw” in the amendment.

He argued that “in the case of a president who is suffering from mental illness and is emotionally unstable or irrational, there is no fail-safe to prevent him or her from simply firing the entire cabinet to prevent the application of the amendment.”

He proposed empaneling previous presidents and vice presidents “to make that determination.”

Blumenauer’s efforts didn’t go anywhere, but Democrats returned to the 25th Amendment narrative in September 2018 following The New York Times’ publication of an op-ed submitted anonymously by an alleged official within the Trump administration.

In the op-ed titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the alleged official claimed “there were early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment,” however “no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Pelosi’s pivot to the amendment now has some speculating that Democrats believe Trump is on the path to reelection, despite national polls which suggest otherwise, and are desperate to remove him.

https://twitter.com/srotzin/status/1314318573846712325

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Jon Dougherty

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