Multiple sources told ABC News that there have been discussions between some Cabinet members and allies about using the amendment as a vehicle to remove the president from office. It was not clear how extensive those conversations have been, or if Vice President Mike Pence supports such action, according to ABC News.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which was enacted after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1967, provides a process for the involuntary removal of a president from power. It has never been tested.
If the vice president and a majority “principal officers of the executive departments” were to decide Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” they could send a written declaration to Congress and install the vice president as acting president.
There are 15 executive departments — so, it would take Vice President Mike Pence and eight federal department heads to agree to go forward. The 15 are: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, and Justice.
What constitutes being “unable to discharge powers/duties” is not spelled out and is open to interpretation.
If the president were to challenge his removal, the amendment stipulates that Congress must vote within 21 days to uphold the removal, requiring two-thirds vote in both chambers. If the vote fails, the president remains in office.
In October, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled legislation that would allow Congress to intervene under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove the president, insisting at the time it was not about President Donald Trump but inspired by the need for greater congressional oversight of his White House after the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Pelosi raised questions about Trump’s mental fitness soon after his COVID-19 diagnosis and demanded more transparency about his health. The bill in October would have set up a commission to assess the president’s ability to lead the country and ensure a continuity of government. It came one year after Pelosi’s House launched impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Just weeks before the Nov. 3 election, with no hopes of the bill becoming law, the rollout was quickly dismissed as a stunt by Trump’s team and top allies.
The legislation that would create a commission as outlined under the 25th Amendment says the vice president and a majority of principal officers of the executive departments “or of such other body as Congress” may by law provide a declaration to Congress that the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” At that point, the vice president would immediately assume the powers of acting president.
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