Just four months after threatening to invoke the 25th Amendment unless Trump "gets a grip," it appears the President's ongoing tweet-tirades have given 25 House Democrats the ammunition to take a radical approach to impeachment - proposing the creation of an "Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity."
A group of 25 House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, have been quietly working on a bill to impeach Trump since April, Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff reports.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland is the main sponsor of the bill, which takes a radical and unprecedented approach to impeaching President Trump under the 25th Amendment.
At 12:56 p.m. Thursday, barely four hours after Trump tweeted attacks against MSNBC cable host Mika Brzezinski in crude, personal terms, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the chief sponsor of the bill, sent out an email to his colleagues, urging them to get behind the measure, writing it was of “enduring importance to the security of our nation.”
“In case of emergency, break glass,” Raskin told Yahoo News in an interview. “If you look at the record of things that have happened since January, it is truly a bizarre litany of events and outbursts.”
Asked if Trump’s latest tweets attacking Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough — which were roundly condemned by members of both parties as beneath the dignity of his office — strengthened the grounds for invoking the 25th Amendment, Raskin replied: “I assume every human being is allowed one or two errant and seemingly deranged tweets. The question is whether you have a sustained pattern of behavior that indicates something is seriously wrong.”
After Trump’s Thursday morning tweets, four more Democrats signed on to Raskin’s bill, his office said Friday.
To be sure, even Raskin acknowledges Congress and the country are in largely uncharted waters.
But Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, has seized on some largely overlooked language in Section 4 as the basis for his bill.
As a reminder, Rep. Raskin is not known for his 'honesty'...
So, what’s Article 4 to the 25th Amendment? In the abstract, the amendment itself is about presidential succession, and includes language about the power of the office when a president is incapacitated. But Digby recently highlighted the specific text of growing relevance:
“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.”
What does that mean exactly?
Well, it means Congress isn’t the only institution that can remove a president from office between elections. Under the 25th Amendment, a sitting vice president and a majority of the executive branch’s cabinet could, on their own, agree to transfer power out of the hands of a sitting president. At that point, those officials would notify Congress, and the vice president would assume the office as the acting president.
And what if the challenged president wasn’t on board with the plan to remove him/her from the office? According to a recent explainer, “If the president wants to dispute this move, he can, but then it would be up to Congress to settle the matter with a vote. A two-thirds majority in both houses would be necessary to keep the vice president in charge. If that threshold isn’t reached, the president would regain his powers.” All of this comes up in fiction from time to time, and in all likelihood, Americans will probably never see this political crisis play out in real life. And that’s probably a good thing: by all appearances, the intended purpose of the constitutional provision was to address a president with a serious ailment – say, a stroke, for example – in which he or she is alive, but unable to fulfill the duties of the office.
In other words, for the first time, the concept of a "soft palace coup" has been officially brought up on public media; we expect such speculation will only get louder with each tweet.