What is the 25th Amendment and how could it be used against Trump?
WASHINGTON — A senior administration official who claims to be working with others to thwart President Donald Trump’s ‘‘worst inclinations’’ and parts of his agenda says Cabinet members whispered early on about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
As the unidentified official wrote in a New York Times opinion piece, that’s a ‘‘complex process for removing the president.’’
Removing a president between elections is meant to be tough. Here’s how the 25th Amendment to the Constitution works:
It came into effect in 1967 as a way to clarify the Constitution’s lines of succession after a crisis like President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. It wasn’t intended to replace unpopular or incompetent presidents but to set a clear process of continuity if a president is disabled, temporarily or permanently, or otherwise unable to fulfill duties.
Its use has been noncontroversial, guiding Gerald Ford from the vice presidency to the presidency when Richard Nixon stepped down and Ford’s successor as vice president, for example.
It enabled a vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to sideline a president temporarily. For that to stick and a vice president to finish out a president’s term, it would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of Congress.
A massive loss of confidence in the president from Trump’s aides and fellow Republicans in Congress would be required.
Here’s how the Globe’s Evan Horowitz explained it in 2017:
“Impeachment isn’t the only way to remove a president. There’s a separate procedure for presidents who haven’t committed crimes but are considered unfit — maybe because they’ve suffered a debilitating stroke, or maybe because they have proved themselves mentally unstable.
First, Cabinet members have to certify that the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ Then, if two-thirds of Congress concurs, the vice president takes over.
It’s a very long shot — because, like impeachment, it requires Republican lawmakers to mount a kind of putsch against their leader — but it differs in one vital way. Congress doesn’t initiate the process. Cabinet members can do that, and once they take the plunge, lawmakers may be more willing to follow.”