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End days for Trump?

Section four of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution defines the procedures for assessing if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

If the POTUS contests the assessment, both chambers of Congress have 21 days to debate the assessment. A very high bar of two-thirds of each chamber will remove the president. There is no appeal. Impeachment, a separate process, requires a two-thirds majority only for the Senate.

During its drafting, Sen. Birch Bayh kept the definition of inability vague because the fate of the POTUS should rest on the professional judgment of the political circumstances of the moment. It’s more a matter of common sense and consensus rather than a trial by law. It’s like being voted off the island.

Donald Trump rarely misses an opportunity to bite whatever hand is feeding him. He will not disappoint us.

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I’m recommending Evan Osnos’s 10,000-word New Yorker (May 8, 2017) essay on this topic (“Endgames: What would it take to cut short Trump’s presidency?”) to readers who can bookmark it for reference sooner more likely than later. Type into your browser “Evan Osnos, Endgames, New Yorker.”

David Bentley

Aspen


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