Washington (CNN)The 25th Amendment is back in the news so this bears repeating. Again. The type of event in which you could imagine President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and his vice president engaging in a political mutiny against him and removing him from power using the 25th Amendment would require something like a presidential coma or a disagreement of such epic proportions as to threaten the fabric of the country or its very existence.
The amendment was ratified in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and debilitating illnesses of Dwight D. Eisenhower — and it requires a crisis on that level to be enacted.
In order to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment, a majority of the Cabinet he personally selected, working with his own vice president, would have to agree he was no longer able to be President and publicly make that declaration, in writing, and send it up to Congress. That’s the first thing. (Note: Congress could appoint some other body to assess the President’s fitness, but we’re so far in uncharted territory, let’s set that aside for the moment.)
Read the full amendment text at the National Constitution Center’s website. They also have a number of articles on the amendment, some of which raise questions about its text. For instance, it doesn’t use the term “Cabinet officials,” but rather “principal officers of the executive department,” so you can imagine the courts getting involved in a contentious process. And a further side note: the only time the amendment was briefly considered by a President’s staffers was for Ronald Reagan, who staffers thought for a time was “inept and inattentive,” according to a memo at the time. They ultimately moved on from the idea.
The Cabinet’s Brutus knife in his back is not all it would take! Trump would then have the ability to publicly disagree, in writing. Wouldn’t that be something. And if his Cabinet reasserted, within four days, “their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Congress would have to assemble within two days and two-thirds of both the House and Senate would have to vote to remove the President within 21 days. They’re not known for moving quickly, but we’re so far down a rabbit hole at this point.
Republicans — Trump’s party — currently control both houses of Congress. That calculation could change after midterm elections, but it’s virtually impossible for Democrats to…