Quora Question: How Would the Secret Service Handle an Unfit President?

A Secret Service agent watches a charter plane used by members of the media covering Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 17. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

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Answer from Jason Wells, worked at U.S. Secret Service:

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is the part of the Constitution that permits the vice president and a majority of the executive branch to declare the president disabled or otherwise incapacitated to carry out the duties that come with the Office of the President.

There are quite a few nuances to this, and please don't take my very brief summary to be as cut-and-dry as it sounds. There are still multiple parties in the government who would need to get involved to make this happen.

But the question is what would the U.S. Secret Service do throughout this time?

They would abide by the law, as they have always done.

If the will of the government is to elect the vice president of the United States to replace the president, then the U.S. Secret Service would go about doing their job just like anyone else were elected during a typical election cycle. If the president refused to step down during this time, he (or she) would be dealing with much bigger issues than his security detail. Most likely the Department of Justice would intervene, and certainly the other two branches of government.

The U.S. Secret Service does not enforce laws for (or against) the president. Despite the tired storyline that pop culture recreates with their terribly written, ridiculous films and television shows, the U.S. Secret Service and its agents are not the muscle of the President. They don't execute secret missions for him, they don't conduct covert activities on his behalf. They just keep him and his family alive.

If he is having a temper tantrum because the U.S. Congress told him to move out of the White House, the U.S. Secret Service is not going to pack his bags for him, or help him move furniture. And if the law says that he is no longer president, then he will lose all perks that come with it; including his protection from the U.S. Secret Service.

What would the Secret Service do if Section 4 of the 25th Amendment were enacted and the POTUS refused to step down? originally appeared on Quora—the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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