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Let’s Stop With Talking About The 25th Amendment; Trump’s Not Crazy, We Are


It seems it’s time for our annual “let’s use the 25th Amendment to oust Trump” conversation. This time, people are freaking out left and right (see what I did there?) over a Times op-ed written by a self-proclaimed “Part of the Resistance” from “inside the Trump Administration.”

According to this Trojan staffer, the real problem for Donald Trump isn’t Mueller or the Democrats, but rather, that, “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” In other words, Trump is a lousy president and can’t even get his own people behind him. Mmm. Okay. Call me cynical, but that’s really not news. The only people Trump has ever been able to get squarely behind him is the hat-wearing #MAGA-nation that is currently out there burning its shoes in the name of Francis Scott Key.

From day one, any actual grown ups who have found themselves in a room with Trump have spent their energy managing and mitigating. But our insider gives us this gem:

“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality.”

No. Shit. Sherlock.

Remember back in October of ’16, when pink-hatted liberals were all screaming about Billy Bush and President Pussygrab? That’s what we were talking about.

This writer also gives us the keen insight that, “in addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.” I mean what’s next? Are we going to learn that the president spray-tans and has a fetish for Eastern-European women?

It’s this paragraph that really fuels my ire, though:

“The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.”

Unsung heroes? Painting Trump cronies who are trying to staunch the bleeding from the wounds they chose to inflict on our country is patently ridiculous. These people gambled that their unhinged toddler of a candidate would somehow smarten up once he sat in the Oval Office; they lost, and they took all of us with them. I’ll be damned if I stand by while we laud them as the real patriots who are protecting the realm.

Our writer offers the perspective that, “the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.” I disagree. Everyday Americans can post memes about the heroism of John McCain and can engage in water-cooler discussion about how liberals and conservatives can be friends. But they cannot do a damn thing about removing Donald Trump from office. The real difference will be made not by everyday Americans – but by the Congress the people elected to represent our interests.

Predictably, today’s Times piece sparked new cries for invoking the 25th Amendment after mentioning that the administration itself considered doing so early into Trump’s term:

So let’s talk about that 25th Amendment, shall we?

Millions of American voters were seduced into voting for Donald Trump because of just those characteristics. We can’t very well now invoke the 25th Amendment because we woke up and realized that a narcissistic megalomaniac is a terrible chief executive even when he is a “political outsider.”

Under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (emphasis mine):

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

The 25th Amendment isn’t a mysterious loophole in the Constitution; it’s a provision that’s there to use if the president has a stroke, undergoes anesthesia, or dies in office. Its purpose is not to allow a disgruntled electorate to undo an election, no matter how bad its buyer’s remorse.

Donald Trump isn’t “unable” to discharge the powers and duties of his office. He’s just unwilling to do it properly. What’s most frightening about Trump as president the profound scope of his ability to wield the power of his office. This man rallied millions of disgruntled Americans who became an army of blindly-loyal footsoldiers who follow him without regard for rationality or logic. The true threat of Donald Trump is that he will continue to be able to hold and discharge power for years to come, while impotent onlookers can do little more than complain about it. If we’re looking for someone who is unable to do their job, I’d start looking in the halls of Congress—because those guys seem utterly incapable of doing anything even resembling their mandate.

Speaking of Congress’ job – the Constitution left performance review over the president firmly in the hands of the two houses. Impeachment is inherently and deliberately a political process, with a twist of legal courtroom drama. As I’ve written before, impeachment is the remedy at Congress’ disposal to wield against a president who is executing his duties badly. Calls to use the 25th Amendment instead of impeachment would be the jellyfish jewel in this Congress’ spineless crown. To get rid of Trump, we need to vote him out. If we want to do it earlier than 2020, he needs to be impeached. And everyone – from the voters to our Senators and Representatives – would have to to put country before career and stand tall against this president. Attempting to evade political fallout by offering a doctor’s note isn’t going to cut it.

As President Barack Obama said back in October of 2016, current GOP leaders created the Trump problem.  “They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years, primarily for political expedience,” President Obama said.  Crazy is what the hopeful campaign sold, and crazy is what America bought. There’s no need to bring it to the next level by misusing the very Constitution that provides us the correct solution.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos