What Is the 25th Amendment, Who Is Calling for It? Donald Trump Removal Urged After Capitol Chaos

Calls for the 25th Amendment to be used to remove President Donald Trump's powers and place them with Vice President Mike Pence have mounted following violent scenes in Washington, D.C.

Trump faces mounting condemnation after a rally made up of thousands of his supporters descended into chaos as they stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The president addressed the crowd, continuing his unfounded allegations of widespread fraud which he baselessly claims lost him the election, shortly before the building was breached. This situation saw the certification of the Electoral College votes disrupted, though this has since been completed—affirming Joe Biden's victory.

Trump has since accepted that his presidency is coming to an end, though continued to baselessly reject the outcome.

Amid the backlash against Trump, several lawmakers have suggested the 25th Amendment be utilized to strip him of the powers of his position.

What Is the 25th Amendment?

The 25th Amendment lays out the scope for situations in which the president is no longer able to fulfil his duties and who is to then carry them out.

For example, a president could notify Congress they will be unable to fulfil their duties if they are to undergo an operation—as George W. Bush did when he was to be put under general anesthetic for a colonoscopy in 2007, temporarily placing Dick Cheney as acting president.

Providing such notification allows for the vice president to take on the role of acting president in such a period, until the president is able to return to their duties.

The amendment also accounts for sickness or death and the procedures for how power would be transferred in such a scenario.

There is also scope within the amendment for the vice president and the cabinet to act should they deem the president unfit to fulfil their role but the commander-in-chief themself does not transfer power. It is under this power in Section 4 of the Amendment that Pence has been urged to act.

This states: "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."

mike pence presides over congress count
Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Lawmakers have called for him to pursue removing President Trump's presidential powers using the 25th Amendment. Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Following this, the president would be able to contact the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House and state no such inability exists in order to resume their role.

Though if the vice president and a majority of cabinet members then disputed this, the matter would be put to a vote in Congress to determine whether the president was to fulfil their duties or the vice president would remain in the role of acting president.

Paul Campos, a professor of law at Colorado Law School, wrote for New York Magazine that: "Those who drafted and ratified the amendment made clear at the time that they were quite consciously employing general and open-ended language in the amendment's text, rather than trying to define what circumstances would warrant the use of Section Four, because they concluded wisely that it would be vain to try to anticipate in advance all the circumstances that would require removing a president."

Who Has Called for Use of the 25th Amendment?

Several lawmakers have called upon Pence to invoke the amendment, following the events at the Capitol on January 6.

A letter signed by 19 members of Congress was sent to Pence, referring to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. It suggested Trump is "not mentally sound and is still unable to process and accept the results of the 2020 election."

"For the sake of our democracy, we emphatically urge you to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin the process of removing President Trump from power," the letter read. "President Trump has shown time and again he is unwilling to protect our Democracy and carry out the duties of the office."

NEW: I am sending a letter with @RepTedLieu and our colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, calling on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office after today’s events. pic.twitter.com/5VK8DLTLn4

— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 7, 2021

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) on Wednesday called for the president to be "held accountable" for the situation in Washington, D.C., criticizing him for telling his supporters they had been "cheated out of something they haven't been cheated out of," in an interview with WPRI 12.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) shared this letter to Pence and wrote: "Dear @VP @Mike_Pence: If Trump doesn't resign, please start 25th Amendment proceedings to remove him. As you are well aware, @realDonaldTrump is detached from reality, angry and dangerous." Lieu had suggested this on social media prior to sharing the letter.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) responded to a report suggesting the Cabinet is considering such action and tweeted: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Cabinet should stop hiding behind anonymous leaks to reporters and do what the Constitution demands they do: invoke the 25th Amendment and remove this President from office."

These voices were joined by a number of lawmakers on social media making this call to Pence. The call has also coincided with discussions of impeachment.

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), however, suggested due to time constraints the invoking of the 25th Amendment would be a more efficient option.

"For the first time in history we have a President who should be impeached twice but because of the time constraints and inaction of Senate Republicans, I urge the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment now," Davids tweeted.

Newsweek has contacted the vice president's office and the White House for comment.

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