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‘Evidence of Mental Deterioration’: Trump Wrestling Tweet Sparks Call to Invoke 25th Amendment

It’s safe to say President Donald Trump uses social media to provoke more than anything else, and a new post Sunday morning achieved just that. He tweeted a wrestling video in which he “beats up” CNN, which lead a former White House lawyer to call for his removal under the 25th Amendment.

Here’s the Tweeter-in-Chief’s post:

And the response by Norm Eisen, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republication, and White House Special Counsel under President Barack Obama.

Trump’s video is edited footage stemming from his honest-to-God actual appearance at Wrestlemania 23 in 2007 (It’s a whole thing). Anyway, the president’s tweet is an obvious swipe at CNN, who recently retracted a story claiming the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating one of his campaign advisers. This was part of their probe into alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

It’s not the first time critics called for Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment. Last time this happened was all the way back in the distant past of just last Thursday. Mean-spirited tweets directed at Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski caused some social media users to argue he was unfit for office, constitutionally speaking.

Calls to invoke the 25th Amendment will face some challenges, however. The short answer is that it has never been used to remove a president, so implementation remains hypothetical, and our current political situation makes it very unlikely. The slightly longer answer: This process requires the vice president and cabinet members to tell Congress that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” whatever that means. Then the VP becomes acting president.

From the 25th Amendment, Section 4:

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days 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. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

In other words, both a Republican cabinet and Congress, which features a GOP majority, must agree that Trump no longer belongs in the position. On top of that, LawNewz.com columnist Robert Barnes has argued that the president’s inability to function is, legally speaking, a narrow question: eg. the president is in coma, or suffers from a mental illness so severe he can’t feed himself.

[Screengrab via WWE footage edited by third-party]

Update – July 5, 7:11 p.m.: The original version of this article included the passage, “Calls to invoke the 25th Amendment will face some challenges, however. The short answer is that it has never been done before, so implementation remains hypothetical, and our current political situation makes it very unlikely.”

The passage now reads, “Calls to invoke the 25th Amendment will face some challenges, however. The short answer is that it has never been used to remove a president, so implementation remains hypothetical, and our current political situation makes it very unlikely.”

The 25th Amendment has been invoked before, but only for short periods of time. Following the process laid out by Section 3, President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush temporarily relinquished power when they had to undergo surgery.

If Trump is forcibly removed from office under the 25th Amendment, then Section 4 would be invoked. This is unprecedented.

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