What is the 25th Amendment and how could it be used to remove Trump?

CBC Kids News • Published 2021-01-08 16:04
UPDATE:On Jan. 12, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution to remove Trump using the 25th Amendment. The move didn't work, however, because U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said he did not to support it.

Impeachment also a possibility

Some people are calling for U.S. President Donald Trump to be removed from office before his term officially ends on Jan. 20.

On Thursday, a day after pro-Trump supporters stormed the country’s Capitol building in Washington, D.C., top Democrat Chuck Schumer called for Trump’s immediate removal for his role in stirring up violence.

The same day, Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, a member of Trump’s own party, took to Twitter to urge the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Tweet reads: it's with a heavy heart that I am calling on for our democracy that the 25th amendment be invoked. THis is my statement:

“The president is unfit. And the president is unwell,” Kinzinger said.

What is the 25th Amendment?

The 25th Amendment is part of the U.S. constitution that was made official in 1967, four years after U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot.

He died of his injuries, and a process was needed to be put in place for someone to be named a president’s replacement and ensure continuity without there being an election right away.

The amendment made it possible to transfer power to the vice-president should the sitting president become disabled or die.

Has it been used before?

Yes. The amendment has been used before, but those instances have generally been brief and voluntary, like when the sitting president has undergone a medical procedure.

In 2002, for example, President George W. Bush temporarily transferred power to Vice-President Dick Cheney while Bush was anesthetized for a colonoscopy.

The amendment has never been used to remove a president involuntarily in cases where they’re seen as unfit to govern.

How would the 25th Amendment work?

Before we get to that, let’s define a few key terms.

Graphic reads: Removing Trump with the 25th amendment Vice-President Mike Pence and the majority of Trump’s cabinet would have to come together and declare him unfit. Pence would take over as president. If Trump insists he’s still fit to govern, Pence and the cabinet have two options. They can either back off, in which case Trump would regain power, or take it to Congress to vote. In this case, Pence would remain as president until the Congress vote is decided. Two-thirds of Congress would have to vote to invoke the 25th Amendment. If the vote passes, Trump would be removed and Pence would take over.

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters, Saul Loeb/Getty Images, J. Scott Applewhite/The Canadian Press, Graphic design by Philip Street/CBC)

If that doesn’t work, can Trump be impeached and then removed?

Yes. The second way to remove a sitting president from office is impeachment.

If Trump is impeached and is then deemed guilty as charged, he can be removed and Pence would take office until Biden takes over on Jan. 20.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress may proceed with impeachment if the president is not removed from office under the 25th Amendment. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

On what grounds could Trump be impeached?

Frank Bowman, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri, said Trump could be accused of an attempted overthrow of the U.S. government, which is grounds for impeachment.

He said Trump could also be impeached for a more general offence: Disloyalty to the U.S. constitution and failing to uphold his oath of office.

However, Lawrence Douglas, a professor of law at Amherst College in Massachusetts, said both impeachment and the 25th Amendment are unlikely to work because of the short time frame and level of co-operation needed.


With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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