Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday morning, October 8, told reporters that she would soon discuss the 25th Amendment with regards to President Donald Trump, setting off rampant speculation.
The 25th Amendment was ratified by Congress after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1967 and lays out the line of succession, should a president die or become incapacitated. It also, however, provides for a situation in which the vice president and a majority of a cabinet can declare that the president is not fit to carry out his duties and states that the vice president would immediately take over in that case, per the Cornell Law Library.
During her Thursday press briefing, while talking about Trump’s decision Tuesday to withdraw from coronavirus stimulus talks, Pelosi said, “Come here tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”
The amendment is often evoked and hashtagged online in discussions about Trump’s mental and physical health, and it quickly began trending on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pelosi Was Discussing the End of Stimulus Negotiations & Trump’s Recovery From Coronavirus When She Evoked the 25th Amendment
Pelosi was asked about prospects for a stimulus package before the election, with Trump announcing Tuesday he was pulling away from negotiations, except in the case of a standalone bill to send Americans checks.
She also referenced Trump’s recent tweets and videos, about which there has been much speculation, insisting that he is “feeling great” and “better than 20 years ago,” despite having been diagnosed with coronavirus sometime last week.
“Well, I don’t know what the prospects are, when you hear someone saying, ‘I’m young and I’m a perfect specimen,’ instead of addressing … the fact that yesterday nearly 1,000 people died,” Pelosi said. “What are we talking about here?
“Come here tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment,” she added.
CNN’s Manu Raju returned to her comment a little later, asking Pelosi, “Do you think it’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment?”
“If you want to talk about that, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Pelosi responded. “But you take me back to my point. Mr. President, when was the last time you had a negative test, before you tested positive? Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this spread, and made a hot spot of the White House?”
Heavy reached out to Pelosi’s press office, but they did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
The 25th Amendment Has Been Discussed Recently, After Trump Tested Positive for Coronavirus & Speculation Raged About His Health
History professor Steven M. Gillon, in an October 5 Washington Post op-ed, explained the circumstances before and after the deaths of the seven presidents who died while in office, before Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 sparked the creation of the 25th Amendment.
The Amendment was created to eliminate the uncertainty that surrounded what should happen if a president becomes incapacitated, Gillon said, but the White House’s often conflicting reports on Trump’s health have “only served to create confusion and uncertainty — the very things that the amendment was designed to prevent.”
Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin said this week that when Trump was hospitalized, he should have temporarily ceded the presidency to Vice President Mike Pence. He also introduced a bill in 2017 to set up a commission, appointed by Congress, to make a determination about a president’s fitness and make sure a smooth transfer of power happens, he told Slate.
“Someone who has mild symptoms can execute the powers and duties of office, but someone who is on a ventilator obviously cannot,” Raskin said. “Judgment calls need to be made all along the spectrum.”
Heavy reached out to Raskin’s office for comment on what Pelosi said but did not immediately hear back.
Trump Opponents Cheered Pelosi’s Statement & Republicans Called It ‘Pathetic’
Tom Joseph, a popular anti-Trump Twitter personality and podcaster who frequently asserts that Trump has frontotemporal dementia using public video and transcripts as evidence, said it was time the amendment was invoked and called Trump’s cabinet “complicit.”
“Pelosi drops a bomb on the Trump health coverup with, ‘we’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment,’” he said. “Pence and the cabinet have been complicit for not removing an obviously insane dementia patient. The WR [Walter Reed] debacle and aftermath have put a spotlight on all of it — COVID and dementia.”
Republican Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin also endorsed Pelosi’s discussion of the 25th Amendment but said that there are holes in the language that need fixing.
“We should have a 25th Amendment discussion,” she said. “It doesn’t work. If president is incapacitated and refuses to use Section 3 but VP is a spineless coward (won’t use section 4) we really have no president. We need to think about how to fix this.”
Republican Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona connected Pelosi’s invocation of the 25th Amendment to Trump’s impeachment over the Ukraine scandal.
“Congressional Democrats have not stopped their quest to remove President @realDonaldTrump from office since the day he was sworn into office, working night and day to overturn the will of Americans,” Biggs said. “Here is another installment of their pathetic series.”
Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia also referenced Trump’s impeachment and said he would not let Pelosi “get away with it.”
Pelosi “will stop at nothing to take down @realDonaldTrump,” he said. “First it was the Russia hoax, then sham impeachment. Now she’s trying to invoke the 25th Amendment because he… fully recovered from the coronavirus? We won’t let her get away with it.”