Tag Archives: 25th Amendment

Don’t fire deputy AG, Mr. President

Rod Rosenstein’s backside might be in a sling as I write this brief blog post.

The deputy U.S. attorney general who hired Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into Donald Trump’s possible Russia dealings is heading to the White House on Thursday to meet with the president.

Rosenstein reportedly said something about wearing a listening device while in the White House and also reportedly asked around about invoking the 25tha Amendment to the Constitution, the one that allows Cabinet officials and Congress to remove the president from office.

Rosenstein denied the reports … sort of. He called them “inaccurate,” which isn’t exactly a denial that he made those statements. Other reports indicate Rosenstein said those things “in jest,” which is how the White House has tried to explain some of the president’s own bizarre statements.

Rosenstein might face the music

If the president fires Rosenstein, then Mueller’s future is in serious question. Does the next deputy AG then fire Mueller, ending the painstaking probe that Mueller has conducted in the search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

Rosenstein’s selection of Mueller was hailed in the moment as a brilliant move, a stroke of genius. The former FBI director, Mueller, was hailed as a man of impeccable integrity and character. Then he started indicting people close to Trump. Now — suddenly, like magic! — he is called everything but the son of Satan by many within the Trump inner circle. The president has labeled the Mueller investigation “illegal” and a “rigged witch hunt.”

I do not want Trump to fire Rosenstein. He perhaps can chew him out royally, which is within his purview. Then again, so is firing him.

Robert Mueller’s investigation needs to proceed and conclude under its own power. Rod Rosenstein needs to stay on the job until Mueller’s task is complete.

And the president of the United States needs to shut his trap and let this investigation reach its end. If there’s nothing there, as Trump insists, Robert Mueller will tell us. Correct?

Will the president heed the advice, or act … impulsively?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might have just wiggled his way into the proverbial doghouse occupied by his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of us out here are wondering whether the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is going to fire Rosenstein because he allegedly threatened to wear a “wire” to record conversations with Trump — and then recommend that the Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from his office.

Rosenstein has sort of denied The New York Times report that the deputy AG had said all that. However, his denial seems to fall short of a categorical, unequivocal denial.

Still, reports now are surfacing that Trump’s inner circle is telling him: Don’t fire Rosenstein!

Trump facing new dilemma

Indeed, such an impulsive act could turn out to be the Republicans’ worst nightmare, just as would a presidential dismissal of AG Jeff Sessions, who has gotten himself into trouble with Trump because of his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into the Russian attack on our electoral system.

I keep circling back to a question that I cannot yet answer: Has there ever been such an out-front discussion about whether a president was “fit” to serve in the office to which he was elected?

Weird, man. Simply weird.

When have we ever discussed presidential fitness?

I’ve been walking along this Earth for a lot of years. I’ve been watching politics for most of my life. For the life of me I cannot remember a national discussion that comes close to mirroring what we’re hearing at this time about the fitness of the man who serves as president of the United States.

We didn’t hear it at this level when President Nixon was mired in the Watergate scandal. We didn’t hear it in 1984 when President Reagan stumbled in his first debate with Walter Mondale, only to say at the second debate that he wouldn’t “exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

These days, the discussion has turned to Donald J. Trump’s actual fitness for the job. There’s open discussion about invoking a constitutional amendment that would strip the president of his powers. There is talk among White House aides about the president’s “impulses” and whether this man has the capacity to understand the myriad complexities of his high office.

Am I missing something? I just don’t recall ever having this discussion at any time, at any level with our previous presidents.

And yet, here we are.

The White House is pushing back. Trump allies say the president is fully capable. They say he’s engaged in the nuance of policy. They’re condemning the “gutless coward” who wrote that anonymous op-ed published in The New York Times, the essay that talks about the theft of memos from Trump’s desk and the effort to protect the nation against the president’s more dangerous instincts.

Yes, Trump promised he would be an “unconventional president.”

Boy, howdy! The man has delivered on that promise.

Bigly!

Identity of op-ed author will be known … then what?

I am trying to put myself in the shoes of the president of the United States.

Someone in his inner circle of executive authority has blown the whistle. Someone has written an anonymously published op-ed column that contends that Donald John Trump — the president himself — is a danger to the nation he was elected to govern.

Trump is outraged. He is looking high and low for the identity of who wrote it. I have this feeling in my gut that he well might know as I write this brief blog post.

The op-ed speaks to “whispers” about invoking the 25th Amendment to relieve the president — temporarily, of course — of his duties as commander in chief. It talks about how White House aides are alarmed at Trump’s impulsive behavior, his lack of knowledge or his desire to learn about the complex issues of the day.

Trump will find out who it is.

Does he fire the individual? Does he then release that individual to tell the world everything he or she knows? What kind of damage can be done at that point if Trump lets his rage command how he responds to this matter?

The New York Times took a highly unusual step in allowing this essay into print without the author’s name attached to it. The Times’s editors did so knowing who the individual is and what he or she does for the Trump administration.

Yes, there’s been some push back on the granting of anonymity. Some critics say the author should have the courage to stand by his words. Others have criticized the NYT for granting anonymity in the first place.

I stand with the publication as it was delivered to the nation.

I also believe we’re going to know in due course — probably quite soon — who this “senior White House official” really is.

Yes, all hell will break loose — and it well might validate precisely the points that the essayist made in writing it.

Read the essay here. It’s worth your time. Honest.

25th Amendment: closer to being invoked?

If you thought a presidential impeachment made our stomachs churn while it was in progress, consider what reportedly has been discussed within the walls of the White House.

According to the anonymous op-ed published today in The New York Times, senior White House officials have discussed openly the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s the one that enables the “temporary” removal of the president who a majority of Cabinet members believe is unfit to carry out the duties of his office.

As the film director and political activist Rob Reiner noted via Twitter: Now we have it. From inside the Trump WH. Conservative Republican WH officials considered invoking 25th Amendment to remove the President from office. We’re a huge step closer to seeing this national nightmare come to an end. GOP electeds, handwriting is on the wall.

I’m not going to endorse the notion that we’re a “huge step” closer to seeing the amendment activated. Having endured a presidential impeachment, though, the idea of seeking to wrest the power away from this president gives me the serious heebie-jeebies.

The amendment was ratified in the 1967 after being proposed in 1965. It was drafted in reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy. It spells out the appointment of a vice president … as well as the removal of the current president.

The amendment sets a high bar for enactment. Most Cabinet members have to agree; so must two-thirds of both congressional chambers.

However, to think that a senior administration official has said out loud that others of his or her colleagues have discussed this option openly is a profoundly chilling notion.

It’s not that I would oppose it. It’s that it would constitute a political act none of us has any experience witnessing unfold in real time.

25th Amendment? Let’s not go there

The U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for the office.

The bar is set extraordinarily high.

The amendment is now on the lips of Washington, D.C. officials who seem to think Donald J. Trump has gone around the bend.

Let’s hold on here!

I’ve already stated my concern over what I call “armchair diagnoses.” There’s been a lot of that going on these days as the president keeps firing off those tweets boasting about the size of his nuclear button and threatening North Korea with annihilation.

However, no psychiatrist has examined the president — at least that I am aware of — and offered a firm medical diagnosis.

Which begs a question. What would a president have to do to be tossed aside?

I guess a president would have to slap a kid who’s touring the White House. Perhaps he would have to drool all over himself. Maybe he would have to berate a senior White House adviser publicly, using what my dear old Dad used to call “the functional four-letter word.”

Donald Trump hasn’t done anything like that.

There well might be a political reason to remove the president. That is where impeachment comes into play.

The 25th Amendment, though, remains the remotest of possibilities — even for a president who acts as squirrely as this one.

And then there’s the 25th Amendment

The United States of America functioned for nearly two centuries before it ratified a constitutional amendment dealing with presidential succession and the appointment of a vice president.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in February 1967. It came in reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, served the remainder of JFK’s term without a vice president. LBJ got elected in 1964 and Hubert Humphrey joined the administration as vice president. President Truman took office in April 1945 after Franklin Roosevelt died just a month into his fourth term; Truman served nearly a full term, therefore, without a vice president.

The amendment has been used exactly once. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 and President Nixon appointed House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president. The new VP then settled into the Oval Office Big Chair when Nixon resigned in August 1974.

I mention this today because the 25th Amendment is getting some attention these days. It allows for a temporary replacement of the president if a majority of the Cabinet determines he is unable to continue doing his presidential duties.

Donald John Trump is in trouble. A special counsel is examining whether his campaign colluded with Russian hackers seeking to meddle in our 2016 election. There might be some issues relating to Trump’s myriad business holdings, too. Oh, and then the president declares that “both sides” were at fault in the Charlottesville riot, causing a serious rift between the White House and members of Congress of both political parties.

There have been some questions about the president state of mind, his ability to actually govern and, yes, his mental competence.

I’m not qualified to offer a psychological diagnosis, let alone from half a continent away. So I won’t go there.

The 25th Amendment is meant to ensure the executive branch continues to function even in these difficult times. Just how difficult will they become? I guess that depends on how the president responds to the mounting pressure.

I keep hearing about how angry he is getting. He’s been cutting people loose all over the place: national security adviser, gone; press secretary, gone; communications director, gone; chief of staff, gone; FBI director, gone; senior strategist, gone.

Trump popped off about neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have effectively rebuked the commander in chief, although not by name. Congressional leaders are starting to weigh in. There might be some diehard Trumpkins among them, but the vast majority of public response has been highly critical.

Republican leaders are aghast. Never mind what Democrats think; it’s a given that they detest the president already.

In the meantime, the 25th Amendment looms as a serious talking point among the chattering class in Washington, D.C. Don’t for a single moment believe that the president is ignoring the chatter.

Gerald Ford: right man, right time

The columnist David Shribman takes note of an anniversary that few people will remember.

I must say this one got by me, but I am glad Shribman wrote this essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the confirmation of Vice President Gerald Rudolph Ford.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/12/01/the_steady_hand_of_gerald_ford_120822.html

The date will arrive on Friday.

It should be noted that an embattled President Richard Nixon made many correct decisions during his time in office, right along with some horrendous ones. Selecting the then-House minority leader to become vice president was among the best decisions of Nixon’s presidency.

Spiro Agnew had quit in disgrace. He ended up pleading no contest to bribery charges. Nixon looked high and low for a suitable replacement. He found it in Ford.

As Shribman notes, Ford was one of 17 men to ascend from vice president to president. Of course, Ford’s place in history is unique, given that he never was elected to either position. He would become vice president on Dec. 6, 1973 and then, on Aug. 9, 1974, he would take the oath of office as the 38th president of the United States.

Gerald Ford healed the nation ravaged by scandal. Yes, he stirred up a terrible controversy a month into his presidency when he pardoned Nixon. He was criticized roundly for that action. I remember, though, how the late Sen. Edward Kennedy — one of Ford’s harshest critics at the time of the pardon — admitted to the error of that criticism as he issued the former president a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2001. “Mr. President, I was wrong,” Kennedy said to Ford.

President George H.W. Bush called Ford a “Norman Rockwell painting come to life,” in remarks at Ford’s funeral.

Fate came calling one day four decades ago and the nation was blessed to have had Gerald Ford on hand to heal its wounds.