The top anonymous official of the Trump administration bbehind a New York Times The editorial says there were "early whispers within the cabinet when invoking the 25th amendment."
That section of the Constitution of the United States deals with the presidential authority in case of death or dismissal, and was ratified in 1967.
What does the 25th Amendment say?
The first of the four sections states that the vice president will assume the Oval office if the president dies or resigns, or retires, something that the original Constitution did not clearly establish.
Presidents can be dismissed through impeachment or through Amendment 25, which the framers of the Constitution included as a dishonorable way to dismiss a seriously ill executive chief.
Section II states that if the vice president dies or resigns, or if he is dismissed, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must confirm a new vice president, whose sole constitutional duty is to serve as president of the Senate.
Section III makes it clear that a president can temporarily delegate his powers to the vice president and then claim them when he is able to serve. This is most often invoked if a president is under the influence of a surgical anesthetic for a short period of time.
Section IV appears in the opinion article and is the most controversial part of the amendment.
Describe how the president can be removed from office if he is incapacitated and does not leave on his own.
The vice president and "a majority of the top officials of the executive departments or of any other body that Congress may by law provide" should write both to the president pro tempore of the Senate and to the President of the House, saying that "the president He can fulfill the powers and duties of his office.
In practical terms, this means that at least eight of the top 15 members of the president's cabinet, along with the vice president, must agree that a president must be removed before any plan can move forward.
Notifying the president of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate is the act that immediately elevates the vice president to a role of "interim president."
The deposed president can challenge the claim, giving the leaders of the bloodless coup four days to reaffirm their claims before the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Congress has two days to convene, unless it is already in session, and another 21 days to vote if the president is unable to serve. A two-thirds majority is required in both chambers to make that determination.
If Congress can not reach that threshold within 21 days, the president regains his powers. If he can, his powers go back to the president of vide and he is dismissed from his position.
What could happen to unleash the 25th Amendment?
Vice President Mike Pence and eight of the top 15 cabinet members would have to agree to notify Congress that President Donald Trump was unable to govern the country.
That group includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Prosecutor Jeff Sessions, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie and Secretary of National Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
His formal notice would be addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who holds the title of "president pro tempore" as the oldest member of the Senate. As soon as the letter is sent, Pence would become & # 39; president in office & # 39 ;.
What happens if Trump does not agree?
If Trump says he is capable of holding the position, he would write to Hatch and Ryan within four days, which would generate three weeks of intense debate in both houses of Congress.
Trumpn would be removed from his post if both two-thirds majorities in both the House and the Senate were in agreement with Pence and his clique. If either of the two cameras did not comply with that mark, Trump would retain his powers and probably embark on a general cleaning of the house, dismissing Pence and replacing disloyal members of the cabinet.
Are there some gaps?
Amendment 25 allows Congress to appoint its own panel of experts to evaluate the president instead of relying on the Cabinet, the men and women who work most closely with Trump, to decide on the course of action.
It specifies that some "other body such as Congress can establish by law" could play that role, but Pence would still have to agree with any conclusion that the president is unable to fulfill his duties.
If the Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate, they could create such a panel with simple majority votes.
That commission could hypothetically include anyone, from presidential historians to psychiatrists, who will be entrusted with evaluating the president's aptitude for the position.
Could Trump shoot Pence if he rebelled?
Yes, in principle. If Trump smelled a bit of trouble, if Pence and a panel assembled by Congress seemed ready to judge him incapacitated, he could dismiss his vice president with a pen stroke to stop the process.
But installing a more loyal VP could be problematic since Amendment 25 includes its own poisonous pill: Both houses of Congress must vote to approve a new vice president.
That means that Trump would be against the same Congress that began to roll the ball, unless the process develops in the weeks leading up to the celebration of a new Congress on January 3, 2018.
Theoretically, a Congress controlled by the Democrats could make life dramatically more difficult for the president if he came to power in the midst of the constitutional crisis.
However, a scenario seems to have affected presidential historians: firing Pence before the process is under way, and then leaving the vice presidency vacant, would not give Congress any practical way forward.
Is there any precedent for this?
No. Only Section III, the voluntary delivery of presidential powers, has ever been seriously considered,
In December of 1978, President Jimmy Carter thought about invoking Section III when he was contemplating a surgical procedure to eliminate hemorrhoids. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama considered it during their terms, but neither did.
Section IV has also never been invoked, although it has been claimed that White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan told his successor, Howard Baker, in 1987 that he should be prepared to invoke him because President Ronald Reagan was inattentive. and inept.
The PBS documentary, "American Experience," tells how Baker and his team watched Reagan closely for signs of disability during their first meeting and decided he had perfect self-control.