Last week, I wrote that I thought Donald Trump was dangerous but that it would be a “tragic mistake” to remove him. Here’s why: The 25th Amendment. There’s been a lot of talk recently about invoking that amendment in order to remove Trump from office.
Go ahead and read the text of the amendment. It’s not a simple process. As John Podhoretz explained on this week’s (excellent!) Commentary podcast, it requires a number of steps:
1) The vice president and a majority of the cabinet would have to declare the president unfit for office.
2) The vice president then transmits a written declaration to Congress and assumes the powers of president.
3) The president would then send a letter to Congress declaring that he was competent to retain his duties.
4) The vice president and a majority of the cabinet would have to send another letter to Congress, within four days, re-asserting that the president was unfit.
5) Congress would then have to vote to accept the vice president’s declaration and in order to remove the president, would need a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
This would be a slow-motion coup and would set in motion a real-deal constitutional crisis even if it didn’t work. (And it wouldn’t work. There is simply no way you could line up that much support.)
But even in failure, the after-effects would ripple through the body politic for generations and would fundamentally transform our political system.
Look: It’s been 40 years and we’re still grappling with the after-effects of the Article of Impeachment brought against Nixon. You cannot even imagine what the downstream effects of setting this process in motion might be.
The principle danger of having Donald Trump as president is that he will precipitate a Constitutional crisis. The opposite danger is that his opposition will create the constitutional crisis for him. Either one carries the possibility for real-deal, call out the army-level instability.
And you’ll never be able to put that genie back in the bottle.
You can believe that Donald Trump represents a real threat to the constitutional order and still think that invoking the 25th Amendment in an attempt to remove him would be an even bigger threat.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard