What Is the 25th Amendment and Can it Be Invoked for President Trump?

Following the mob insurrection that took place after the goading of the sitting president of the United States which resulted in the temporary sacking of the U.S. Capitol and ended with the deaths of four people, there have been calls from some quarters to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Donald Trump from office.

Following Wednesday's mob insurrection that took place after the goading of the sitting president of the United States, resulting in the temporary sacking of the U.S. Capitol and ending with the deaths of four people, there have been calls from a growing number of quarters to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office.

What is the 25th Amendment?

Simply put the 25th Amendment provides the specific provisions under which a sitting president can be removed from office if he is unable or unfit to fulfill his duties. The 25th Amendment 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."

Has It Ever Been Used?

Yes, it has. But not in the manner Trump's critics are currently asking that it be used. Presidents have used Section 3 of the 25th Amendment three times. Each time, they have given power to their vice presidents for a short time because they needed to get anesthesia for medical tests or surgery. George W. Bush used it twice during his two terms in office, in 2002 and 2007, when he was receiving a colonoscopy, relinquishing power temporarily to Dick Cheney.

Section 4 is the only part of the Amendment that has never been used. It allows other executive officials to declare the president unable to do his job. First, the vice president must agree to do this. Then a majority of "the principal officers of the executive departments" (the United States Cabinet), or "such other body as Congress may by law provide" (some other group that Congress chooses) must agree.

How Would Section 4 of the 25th Amendment Be Used?

To declare the president unable to do his job, these people would have to sign and give a letter to the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives. Then the vice president would become the acting president.

Who's Calling For the President's Removal?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, called for Donald Trump's immediate removal from office Thursday, saying the president was no longer fit to serve.

"What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer," Schumer said in a statement. "The quickest and most effective way -- it can be done today -- to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president."

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Vice President Pence on Wednesday evening imploring him to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) shared the letter on Twitter writing, "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."

But it's not only the Democrats. Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois this morning called for Trump's removal saying he was both "unfit and unwell" in a statement on Twitter. "Sadly yesterday it became evident not only has the president abdicated his duty to protect the American people and the people's house, he evoked and inflamed passions that only gave fuel to the insurrection that we saw... the president has become unmoored not only from his duty or even his oath but from reality itself. It's for this reason I call for the Vice President and members of the cabinet that the next few weeks are safe for the American people. It's time to Invoke the 25th Amendment and end this nightmare."

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons was one of the first on Wednesday to invoke the usage of the 25th Amendment: "The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories to raise campaign dollars is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy."

Former New Jersey Gov. and former Trump ally Chris Christie told ABC late Wednesday that “responsible members of the Cabinet” should be thinking about fulfilling their oath of office, adding that Trump had “violated his oath and betrayed the American people."

Will It Actually Happen?

Don't hold your breath. As previously stated for the move to gain any traction it would require the consent of both Vice President Pence and a majority of Trump's Cabinet, most of whom have remained loyal to him, at least up until Wednesday's carnage on Capitol Hill. It's unclear if enough of them would band together at this point to remove Trump from office.