Scandals and colonoscopies: This is when the 25th Amendment was invoked

The 25th: It’s a short amendment with long-reaching power.

Some lawmakers and even the National Association of Manufacturers — hardly a liberal organization — are urging Vice President Mike Pence and cabinet leaders to invoke a portion of the 25th Amendment, in effect declaring that President Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

There are four sections of the 25th, and while 1, 2 and 3 have been used to place the vice president in charge, Section 4 has never been invoked. (When President Ronald Reagan was shot in March 1981, his administration prepared the papers for Section 4, which would have made then-Vice President George H.W. Bush the commander-in-chief. But it was never invoked.)

To take this unprecedented step, Pence and the majority of the cabinet would need to declare their intent in writing to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Senate President Pro Temp Chuck Grassley, a Republican.

Trump would immediately be relieved of the presidency, although the 25th allows the commander-in-chief to rebut the declaration. If he did, Trump would then resume the presidency unless Pence and the cabinet resubmitted their declaration within four days. Congress could then vote within 21 days, which under the current circumstances, would be after Inauguration Day. A two-thirds majority is required to remove the president in this situation.

Since the 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 — a response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy four years prior — other sections have been invoked:

From History.com:

In 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with political corruption. Section 2 of the 25th Amendment required President Richard Nixon to nominate a new vice president for Congressional approval. Nixon appointed Gerald Ford and Congress approved the nomination.

In August 1974, Nixon resigned, also amid the Watergate scandal. Section 1 of the 25th allowed Ford to ascend to the presidency. Since that left a vice presidential vacancy, Ford invoked the 25th amendment — again Section 2 — and nominated Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vacancy.

In July 1985, before President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery for colon cancer, he used Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to temporarily transfer power to Vice President George H.W. Bush.

In June 2002, President George W. Bush invoked Section 3 prior to going under anesthesia for a colonoscopy and briefly made Vice President Dick Cheney the acting president. He did the same again when he had another colonoscopy in 2007.

Some Dems urge another impeachment of Trump after insurrection at U.S. Capitol

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said she was drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump for his role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. (Official photo)

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress and senators had not yet emerged from a Capitol lockdown caused by a mob of violent, rioting Trump supporters before key Democrats began calling for impeaching the president and consequences for politicians who encouraged the violence.

Progressive members of the U.S. House, including congresswomen who are members of the expanding so-called Squad, appear to be among the first to call for Congress to dole out swift punishment to President Donald Trump and other Republicans who have stoked the conditions that led to this moment.

Around 2:30 p.m., U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted to let her supporters know she was safe, and that “Running for our lives as Members of Congress in the United States is really devastating and totally shocking.”

An hour-and-a-half later, the Minnesota Democrat’s shock shifted to indignation. Omar announced to her Twitter followers that she is drawing up Articles of Impeachment, just minutes after Trump released a video message on his own Twitter account.

Trump dug in on his false statements that the election was stolen from him and called for protesters to go home.

“Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate,” Omar wrote. “We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.”

Omar, through a spokesman, declined a request to comment later Wednesday.

The House impeached Trump in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate acquitted him in February 2020.

Soon after Omar’s tweet, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, member of House leadership, and a fellow member of the House Progressive Caucus with Omar, tweeted that he is circulating a letter to gain signatures and then send to Vice President Mike Pence.

Cicilline called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which could allow a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president and install the vice president as acting president if Trump is deemed unfit to do his duty.

“Vice President Pence can help put down this attempted coup if he wants to,” Cicilline tweeted. “If he doesn’t, then Congress should go ahead and impeach the President.”

Cicilline, who said he was in lockdown, was not immediately available for an interview.

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia appeared to signal on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that she, too, would support removal or impeachment. She wrote that Trump has been encouraging these “domestic terrorists” since before the election.

“He could have stopped them at any moment, but instead he whipped them into a frenzy and sicced them on the Capitol,” she wrote. “The Cabinet must remove him today or the House must impeach.”

Other Democratic members joined in: Newly elected U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia also tweeted that Trump bore “personal responsibility” and should be impeached; U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, a Californian, tweeted that Trump had “encouraged and incited the violence,” and that “he deserves to be impeached tomorrow and should be barred from ever holding federal office again.”

As the sun fell, more and more Democrats began calling for immediate action to impeach Trump.

Those included New Jersey U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who wrote that, “This behavior cannot be forgiven or ignored. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said Trumpshould be impeached.

President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, so Congress would have just two weeks to act on impeachment, a process that in the past has stretched over months.

Just focusing on Trump was not enough for newly seated U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), however.

She tweeted the image of a draft resolution that calls on House committees to “investigate, and issue a report on, whether those Members of the House who have sought to overturn the 2020 Presidential election have violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution or the Rules of the House of Representatives, and should face sanction, including removal from the House of Representatives.”

“I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election must face consequences. They have broken their sacred Oath of Office,” she tweeted out to her followers. “I will be introducing a resolution calling for their expulsion.”

Other Democrats expressed their support for Bush’s effort, including New York U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones and New Jersey U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, who both indicated they would support the drive to expel some of their colleagues from Congress.

Still, for many, more immediate concerns were at hand: The mob had interrupted the counting of electoral votes to certify the election, and many members expressed that it is imperative for them to get back to work and continue their constitutional duty.

Among them was Virginia U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat who said in a short interview that he is calm and determined to return to the House chamber and ratify the election.

“I’m itching to get all clear and finish electoral ballot counting,” he told States Newsroom. “We cannot be deterred by this intimidation or violence. Today the truth will prevail, at last.”

Veteran journalist offers neat, on-the-mark summation of Trump’s disastrous presidency

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This is the way the Trump presidency ends, not with a bang but with chaos, confusion and sleaze – just as it began.

President Trump has spent four years wasting the nation’s time, treasure and prestige as he turned the White House into a family profit center while demeaning Americans who make personal sacrifices without benefiting in some way as “losers” and “suckers.”

The losers and suckers he referred to were the World War I Marines who gave their lives for our freedom, a remark Trump made at a revered American cemetery in France, and, by extension, he applies to anyone who doesn’t put personal gain above service to others.

As he angrily prepares to exit the White House, Trump amplified the brazen tradition of presidential pardons – upwards of 60, so far, with more expected to come – of men and women very much like himself: grifters, tax cheats, liars, con artists, confederates in the Russia investigation, even convicted mercenary murderers. The swamp is overcrowding.

The squalid pardons suggest that crime does, in fact, pay, that lying, cheating, stealing, even murdering, are the cost of doing business in Trump’s transactional world. And the pardons further illustrate Trump’s determined effort to expunge the last traces of the Mueller investigation even though Trump can’t eliminate history books – not yet, anyway.

Trump, in short, has subordinated the rule of law to the rules of the marketplace. He placed himself above the health and well-being of the country, all the while his personal business interests translated into an extension of the presidency. He has refused to disengage from his business and he has resisted releasing his tax returns. There’s a special circle in Dante’s hell for Trump for the debased moral tone that he has set for the nation.

By contrast, what others, including Trump himself, might regard as accomplishments, exist only in the eyes of the beholders. Many historians, who usually wait for time to pass before they telescope a presidency into objective focus, have already classified Trump as the worst president in history. Majorities in current polls of voters have issued the same conclusion in the midst of the Trump-accelerated pandemic. Trump’s indifference allowed the lethal germ to spread unchecked. Bleach injection, anyone?

Without defaming the business community as a whole, Trump’s performance as president pretty much slams the door for the foreseeable future, at least, on any business person who might consider pursuing the job.

For generations, the idea of a businessman-as-president was the taproot of an American myth – government ought to be run like a business. And recall Charlie Wilson’s axiomatic, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” Forget it. Trump has corrupted the thought, as he has everyone and everything around him.

Much of Trump’s presidency existed in the ether. To chase Trump’s tweets as legitimate exercises of policy, or to allow them to evanesce into the nether sphere, was the conundrum of historians, journalists and ghost-chasers. He wasted much of America’s time and energy trying to decide what the commotion – or distractions – were about. Trump has trivialized the presidency.

Most of Trump’s tweets, as with many of his other utterances, are among the more than 23,000 lies, misstatements or other falsehoods catalogued by The Washington Post’s fact-checker during the Trump presidency.

In the end, much of the foam that Trump produced with his thumbs was little more than blather to reassure his millions of devoted followers, such as those lunkheads known as the “Proud Boys,” that civic disturbances are a detour around the law toward making America great again. Talk about suckers and losers.

When Trump first assumed the presidency, there was much palaver about rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

What the nation received for all the babble was not improved conveniences of movement from here to there. What Americans were given in return for their gas-tax dollars was a xenophobe’s dream – a wall, or at least part of one – that was less effective than the Berlin Wall, the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall across the north of Great Britain. It was no wall at all. Interlopers simply went over it, under it or through it.

The wall, in theory separating Mexico from the United States, functions more as a barbaric internment camp, or a prison site, for children separated from the parents than as a barrier to entry. The wall, still incomplete and probably never to be finished, was, according to Trump, to be paid for by Mexico, but cost billions in diverted dollars from other sources such as the Pentagon budget. Much of the construction money went to a Trump crony and donor in North Dakota.

America, for much of the world, has become a punch line, a laughingstock, and to its allies a partner no longer to be trusted. A Trump handshake is a risky count-your-fingers gesture. He has tried to cozy up to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung Un at the same time he has backhanded Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As late as last week, for example, Trump, once again, rebuffed the intelligence community by refusing to acknowledge that Russia was behind the recent cyber hacks of American government agencies. And to this day, four years after the accepted fact, Trump still refuses to acknowledge that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential elections, fearing that any assent would delegitimatize his presidency.

The family enrichment

Trump’s biggest abuse of power, perhaps, has been his use of the presidency for personal enrichment. Read more

Trump threatens Americans with yet another lump of coal

President Donald Trump (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The news was, at once, totally unbelievable and totally predictable. I speak , of course, of word that arrived last night that President Donald Trump is, in yet another irresponsible and immature fit of pique, throwing a last minute monkey wrench into painfully negotiated pandemic relief legislation.

This is from the New York Times:

President Trump on Tuesday evening threatened to derail months of bipartisan work in Congress to deliver $900 billion in coronavirus relief to a country battered by the pandemic, demanding checks to Americans that are more than three times as much as those in the bill, which he called a “disgrace.”

The president, who has been preoccupied with the baseless claim that the election was stolen from him, seized on congressional leaders’ decision to pass the relief bill by combining it with a broader spending plan to fund government operations and the military. That spending plan includes routine provisions like foreign aid and support for Washington institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian.

But Mr. Trump portrayed such spending items as “wasteful and unnecessary” additions to the coronavirus legislation.

Trump’s action is, as his his wont, utterly destructive and irresponsible.

Of course, the bill is flawed. Unfortunately, that’s what frequently happens in an imperfect, complex and diverse country of 300 million people at a time like the present.

But the bill is also an absolutely essential piece of legislation that will provide critical, if far from adequate, relief to millions of people at a moment of dire emergency. Indeed, the fact that our normally dysfunctional Congress was able to produce any semi-useful legislation in this moment can only be seen as an extremely hopeful sign.

Unfortunately, as is always the case with Trump, his latest action is not about the country or helping its citizenry; it’s about an utterly corrupt and incompetent man extracting revenge in response to the personal affront he took at being rejected by the voters.

The bottom line: One hopes Trump will come to his senses and let the bill advance in order to avoid the pain and suffering that further delay would bring about, but we’re not holding our breath. January 20 cannot come soon enough.

U.S. Justice Department to send staff to monitor polling places in Wake and Mecklenburg

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Atlanta, Georgia in 2018 (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Civil rights group decries “thinly veiled” and “politicized” action

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Justice will have staffers on the ground in 44 counties (including two in North Carolina) and cities across 18 states on Election Day, monitoring for violations of federal voting-rights laws—fewer states than in 2016.

The localities this year are in battlegrounds like Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The deployment of personnel from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s offices are part of the agency’s regular monitoring efforts since passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, DOJ officials said in a news release Monday.

“Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment,” said Eric S. Dreiband, assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”

The agency did not specify how many DOJ staffers would be part of this year’s monitoring efforts, or why the specific locations were selected. Some are repeated monitoring spots from the 2016 presidential election, when the DOJ sent more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions in 28 states.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law criticized the DOJ monitoring plan on Monday, saying it overlooks parts of the country where Black voters and voters of color have historically faced voter suppression.

“This plan appears to be nothing but a thinly-veiled effort to deploy federal government personnel to communities in so-called ‘battleground states,’” said Kristen Clarke, the organization’s president and executive director.

“The most striking evidence of the politicized nature of this plan is the absence of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and other states that are home to some of the largest shares of Black voters,” Clake continud.

On Tuesday, DOJ staffers will be available to receive complaints about potential voting-rights violations. Individuals who witness a potential violation can fill out an online form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or call 800-253-3931.

The announcement comes amid heightened concerns about violence or disruptions at polling places. Complaints related to violence, voter intimidation or other disruptions at polling places should be reported first to local police and election officials, and then to the DOJ, according to the news release.

The jurisdictions where DOJ personnel will be on hand are:

  • North Carolina: Mecklenburg and Wake counties
  • Arizona: Coconino, Maricopa and Navajo counties
  • California: Los Angeles and Orange counties
  • Florida: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties
  • Georgia: Fulton and Gwinnett counties
  • Illinois: City of Chicago and Cook County
  • Maryland: Montgomery County
  • Massachusetts: Cities of Boston, Lowell, Malden, Quincy and Springfield
  • Michigan: Cities of Detroit, Eastpointe, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Jackson; and Shelby Township
  • Minnesota: City of Minneapolis
  • New Jersey: Bergen and Middlesex counties
  • New Mexico: Bernalillo County
  • Ohio: Cuyahoga County
  • Pennsylvania: Allegheny, Lehigh and Philadelphia counties
  • South Carolina: Richland County
  • Texas: Harris and Waller counties
  • Virginia: Fairfax and Prince William counties
  • Wisconsin: City of Milwaukee