House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jamie Raskin on October 9 introduced a bill to create a Commission on Presidential Capacity. Thursday, Pelosi teased the news conference, telling reporters, “Tomorrow we’re going to talk about the 25th Amendment,” while discussing President Donald Trump‘s uncertain health and ending of coronavirus stimulus talks.
“This is not about President Trump,” Pelosi said at the outset Friday, however. “He will face judgment from the voters.”
Raskin authored the legislation in 2017.
Raskin said this week that when Trump was hospitalized, he should have temporarily ceded the presidency to Vice President Mike Pence. “Someone who has mild symptoms can execute the powers and duties of office, but someone who is on a ventilator obviously cannot,” Raskin told Slate. “Judgment calls need to be made all along the spectrum.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Raskin Proposed a 16-Member Commission of Medical Experts & Former Executive Officials, Including Presidents, But Said the Next Congress Should Create the Body
Raskin said that coronavirus, and the chaos it has created in the White House, where numerous top officials are currently in isolation, made it clear that the commission needs to be established.
“In times of chaos we must hold fast to our constitution,” he said, adding, “In the age of COVID-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and now ravaged the White House staff, the wisdom of the 25th Amendment is now clear. What if the president ends up in a coma or on a ventilator, and has made no arrangement for the peaceful transfer of power?”
“I wish that Congress had set up this permanent body 50 years ago … We do need to do this, certainly in the next Congress.”
Although Pelosi Said the Bill Was ‘Not About’ Trump, Reporters Were Skeptical & Asked If Trump’s Mental State Was ‘At the Threshold’ of Needing to Invoke the 25th Amendment
Although Pelosi repeatedly said the legislation was not directed at president Trump, the fact that it was being proposed while Trump recovers from coronavirus and makes several bizarre statements in interviews raised many reporters’ eyebrows.
“This is a president who has been impeached,” one reporter said. “You have made comments saying his mental state has been affected by the drugs he is on.”
“What I said about the president and drugs is there are those who believe that taking certain medications can affect your judgment,” Pelosi said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. There are medical professionals who say certain medications can impair judgment. I don’t know … This is really important. It’s not about any of us making a judgment about the president’s wellbeing. It’s about this respected bipartisan commission, the medical side and dignitary, state side equally in a bipartisan way.”
“We would like to have it in place for future presidencies,” she added. “If President Trump wins this election, yes, it would apply to him. If it doesn’t it would apply to the next President of the United States. People want to know. You have to give people some comfort.”
Other reporters told Pelosi and Raskin they were “curious about the timing,” with one noting that Pelosi has recently been reported as saying that Trump may be impaired by the medications, including the steroid dexamethasone, that he is on during his coronavirus treatment.
“What are the indications of Trump having an impaired state of mind,” Pelosi was asked.
“I said clearly he is under medication,” she said. “Any of us under medications of that seriousness would be in an altered state. He has bragged about the medication he is on.”
Pelosi and Raskin were also asked if they believed Trump was at the “threshold” of the 25th Amendment being necessary, but they did not answer.
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.