Rep. Jamie Raskin's plan zeros in on Section 4 of the Constitution's 25th amendment
It's a provocative and long-shot effort, but the idea does have some precedent
Pointing to the outcry over President Donald Trump’s latest controversial tweets, freshman Rep. Jamie Raskin is urging his colleagues to get behind a bill that could potentially oust the President if he was mentally or physically unfit.
The Maryland Democrat wants to create an 11-member commission made up of mostly physicians and psychiatrists – more formally called the “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity.” The panel would carry out a medical examination and determine whether the President was physically or mentally able to do the job.
Two of the commission’s members would also be former high ranking officials, such as presidents, vice presidents, attorneys general or secretaries of state.
It’s a provocative and long-shot effort, but Raskin is citing as his legal backup the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which was adopted in 1967 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to establish procedure in the case a president is incapacitated. About two dozen Democrats have signed on to the effort as of Thursday.
Raskin is zeroing in on one section of that constitutional amendment, which allows the vice president to assume powers if either the majority of the Cabinet or “such other body as Congress” finds that the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of office.” (The vice president would also have to agree to the assessment of the President’s abilities.) Raskin is proposing his commission to serve as that “body.”
The President could appeal the decision, and a whopping two-thirds of both the House and the Senate would then need to agree with the commission’s assessment in order to keep the President out of office. If two-thirds fail to agree, then the President would be allowed to resume the powers and duties of the office.
CNN reached out to the White House for comment on the proposal and has not yet received a response.
Raskin, a professor of constitutional law, first introduced the bill in April and before this week it had 20 co-sponsors (all Democrats). Another three Democrats joined as of Thursday, according to Raskin’s office.
Amid a heated health care debate, Trump made headlines Thursday when he tweeted stunningly personal insults of the co-hosts of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” a move that drew criticism from members of both parties and renewed concern about the President’s Twitter habits.
The two co-hosts, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, frequently questioned the President’s emotional and mental state.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders argued Thursday the President was merely trying to fight “fire with fire,” reiterating that he often hits back when attacked.
Raskin took to Twitter himself on Friday to raise the specter of the 25th Amendment once again.
Trump’s “incapacity must be seriously addressed,” he wrote, also posting a screenshot of his bill.
“The President should take a break from watching TV and read the #25thAmendment to the Constitution. There are ways out of this,” he tweeted, along with a screenshot of more of the President’s tweets.
Yahoo News reported Friday that Raskin also sent out an email to his colleagues Thursday, just hours after the President’s tweets, trying to collect more support for his bill.
Correction: This story was updated to reflect that Raskin remains a professor of constitutional law.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.