The Corner

White House

Keystone Koup

Alan Dershowitz says that if anyone attempted to use the 25th amendment to remove President Trump from power when he retained the capacity to perform his job, it would be “clearly an attempted coup d’etat” and “unconstitutional power grabbing.” The president agrees.

The amendment speaks of a president who cannot discharge his duties. It would indeed be an abuse of the text to use it based on one’s view that a president could not discharge those duties well, even if that view were well-founded.

But it would be a “coup” requiring the assent of the vice president, a majority of the Cabinet, and two-thirds of each house of Congress. It would, that is, require a greater degree of national consensus than even the removal of a president through impeachment. And that process requires a degree of consensus so great that it has resulted in the removal of a president only once in American history (when Nixon resigned rather than be impeached and convicted).

I’d draw two conclusions. 1) If a president were removed from office this way, it would be because nearly everyone wanted it to happen rather than because a shadowy cabal had conspired to get one over on the public. 2) There was no chance that this was ever going to happen, and if any official tried to make it happen he was engaged in an effort more quixotic than sinister.

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