President Donald Trump‘s controversial decisions in the wake of the Charlottesville attack have led to renewed questions of POTUS’s mental fitness, and whether the 25th Amendment could be used to remove him from office. This certainly is not the first time that this subject has come up. Trump’s lawyers complained in a court filing last month that a lawsuit against the President was only intended to get “embarrassing” dirt on Trump, including mental health information. But is much digging necessary?
The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a President if the Vice President and a sufficient number of other officials declare in a written statement that he is unable to carry out his duties. Sure, some of the reasons people have given for why Trump is unfit have been overblown, to be sure, but the sheer volume of them is hard to ignore. If Mike Pence ever felt the need to push for Trump’s removal, here are some of the examples he could give to support the decision. Trump’s behavior has certainly been unorthodox, but are any of these truly reasons to declare him unfit? You decide.
1. President Trump’s Marathon Rambling Press Conference (February 16, 2017)
Who could forget the epic press conference that President Trump held in February? The hour-plus affair was highlighted by repeated criticism of the media and Trump’s detractors in general, as well as White House leaks. It was described by The Washington Post as “the verbal equivalent of the brash and impetuous early morning tweets that have become the alarm clock for much of Washington.” It left such an impression on Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Cal.), that she said “unhinged” was too soft a term for it, calling it “scary,” adding the hashtag #25thAmendment.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) February 16, 2017
2. Covfefe (May 31)
Ah, covfefe. Who could forget the cryptic late-night tweet that confused a nation? At the end of May, President Trump, posted on Twitter “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” which led people to wonder, what on earth is he talking about? Was this a code of some sort that requires an expert to decipher its deep meaning? Trump himself baited us with a follow-up tweet, which remains up, despite the deletion of the original.
Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Of course, the obvious answer is that he meant to say “coverage,” but that would just be too simple.
3. The Out-of-Control Attack on Mika, Joe Scarborough. (June 29)
If there was one tweet that you could pick that exemplifies Trump’s lack of judgment, it would definitely be his unhinged attack on Mika and Joe Scarborough on June 29. In case your brain blocked that memory:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
In the tweet, Trump made reference to Mika “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when in fact, she was not recovering for a facelift at all. This is what she looked like:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 29, 2017
4. The Wrestling Tweet (July 2)
On July 2, 2017, Donald Trump tweeted out a gif of himself beating up a person with a “CNN” logo on his head. At the time,several members of congress pointed to this tweet as evidence that the President was unhinged. They said Tump was endorsing violence against a “free press” which was not only unconstitutional, but put into question his judgment.
“Given Donald Trump’s continued erratic and baffling behavior, is it any wonder why we need to pursue this legislation?” Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, a co-signer of legislation proposing he be declared unfit for office recently told NBC News. “The mental and physical health of the leader of the United States and the free world is a matter of great public concern.”
What’s Going On Here? pic.twitter.com/xC8ORMrblz
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 4, 2017
In what many deemed as a rather humorous (and scary) moment, Trump exited Air Force One and somehow walked right past the limousine which was ready to take him back to the White House. An aide noticed that President seemed rather confused, and pointed him back to where his car was very clearly waiting for him. Some accused him of having a “senior moment” and used the incident as evidence that he was losing touch.
6. The Inexplicable Interference in Don Jr.’s Misleading Statement to the Media (July 31)
Trump unexpectedly interfered with his son’s dealings with the media in which he released a very misleading statement regarding the nature of a meeting his son and other Trump campaign advisors had with a Russian attorney. Not only did he advise on the press statement, according to reports, he actually dictated the contents from Air Force One when he was on his way back from an important foreign visit. He apparently advised his son to declare that the meeting’s purpose was to discuss Russian adoptions. In reality, emails released after the statement showed that Don Jr. met with the Russian attorney with the hopes of gaining incriminating info on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
7. Moral Equivalence After Charlottesville (August 2017)
The president’s response to the attack on counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally not only upset a great number of Americans, it raised the question of “What was he thinking?” and not in the rhetorical sense. First, there was his criticism of violence on “many sides,” which seemed to equate white supremacists and neo-Nazis with violent opposition to them from groups like Antifa. Certainly, most people can agree that violence as a means of silencing people is wrong regardless of who does it, but the story here was that people who are against Nazis were attacked by someone who was pro-Nazi. This was not the time to criticize the left.
Trump recovered to a degree, when he spoke about Charlottesville again, this time calling out white supremacists by name. Unfortunately, he gave up some of the good will he had gained when he later took the side of those who support keeping Confederate memorials. Trump not only supported the sentiment of those who hold the Confederacy dear, he equated Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, men who led enemy forces against the Union, to founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The president’s words in the wake of Charlottesville led people to wonder if Trump himself is a racist, or if he is simply appeasing racists who have supported him. The former would be more troubling, the latter is stupefying as well. As a man who has railed against political correctness, why would Trump choose his words to appease anyone, let alone a hateful group that makes up a minority of constituents?
CNN’s Brian Stelter devoted a segment over the weekend to how Trump’s response has led to renewed calls to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Rep. Speier was also at it again.
POTUS is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger. Time to invoke the 25th Amendment.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) August 16, 2017
Could it happen? Most legal experts think it would be very difficult, especially given the current make-up of Congress.
“Due equally to the respect for the individual and regard for democracy, we do not allow the state, or anyone else, to uniformly call some incapacitated without clear, constricting standards. This requires the literal inability to function — coma status, or its equivalent, generally,” LawNewz.com columnist Robert Barnes wrote in a recent post.
But not everyone agrees. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe told The New Yorker that the standard for removal is not “a medical or otherwise technical one but is one resting on a commonsense understanding of what it means for a President to be ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’—an inability that can obviously be manifested by gross and pathological inattention or indifference to, or failure to understand, the limits of those powers or the mandatory nature of those duties.”
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.