Election 2016

There Might Be One Way We Can Get Rid of Trump Before He Does Too Much Damage

Now is a good time to study up on the 25th Amendment.

Photo Credit: FlickR/IoSonoUnaFotoCamera

Hillary Clinton campaigned on Donald Trump's unfitness for the office of the presidency. Millions of Americans agreed with her, but he won anyway. Every day since then, he continues to demonstrate his utter unfitness.

In a scathing column in the Washington Post titled, "How to remove Trump from office," Richard Cohen offers a sliver of hope in the form of a fairly obscure constitutional amendment.

First, Cohen lays out an accurate case for why Trump is entirely deserving of a constitutional coup. "Donald Trump is a one-man basket of deplorables," he opens. "He is a braggart and a liar. He is a bully and a demagogue. He is an ignoramus and a deadbeat, a chiseler and either a sincere racist or an insincere one, and his love for himself is matched only by my loathing of him."

There is zero reason to think Trump will change given his behavior since the election, given his stunningly bratty tweets about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep, and more outright lies about his own troubling statements about Russian attempts to sway the election in his favor. "As always, Trump made this about himself — not, as it should be, about a foreign power meddling in our democracy," Cohen writes. He also points out that there is also the truism that at 70, very few people change, especially not Trump, who sees his election victory as proof that he was right all along.

Trump and his coterie of enablers and sycophants, like Reince Priebus, happily turn truth upside-down, with Trump saying the intelligence community's report on Russian hacking was "fake news," and Priebus calling it "politically motivated." This is madness.

Expect more of the same, and for things to get worse and worse. So what is the solution to this horrifying situation? Cohen writes:

One remote remedy is impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate. It is, as it should be, a laborious process and requires provable acts of treason, bribery or other “high crimes and misdemeanors” — very high bars indeed and difficult to define. In fact, no president has ever gone the whole way: not Andrew Johnson and not Bill Clinton.

There is, however, another way. Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the vice president, together with a “majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can remove the president for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” No doubt the mere mention of incapacitation would summon a horde of lawyers to Washington to contest it or the meaning of every term.

But it is plain that the 25th Amendment does give a role to Cabinet members that is not generally considered when they are up for confirmation. This time, however, they should all be asked whether they are aware of the 25th Amendment and, if need be, whether they would be willing to implement it. Some would say that they do not respond to hypotheticals, but a willingness to abide by the Constitution is not a hypothetical. It is, instead, a grave duty.

Cohen does not put a lot of stock in the possibility of this coup happening, though it certainly should given the fact that Trump has shown utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution with assertions that by definition anything a president does is legal. And doesn't the fact that he was the most prominent birther, and his willingness to mock Serge Kovaleski, the New York Times reporter with phsyical disabilities who dared question him, and then absurdly deny that he had done what the whole world saw him do, demonstrate again his manifest unfitness for office? Decent people think it does.

Forget Pence. Cohen thinks the Cabinet might hold the key: "Trump goofed," he writes. "There are some good people in that room."

He leaves it to us to figure out who they might be.

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