Is It Time to Invoke the 25th Amendment?

The invasion of the U.S. Capitol has revived the question, and from some unexpected sources

President Donald Trump arrives at the “Stop The Steal” Rally on January 6, 2020. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

So this is what it takes to make all the resistance fantasies come true. With 14 days left in his term, there are starting to be real rumblings about the 25th Amendment being invoked to remove President Donald Trump from office. The provision, which allows for the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to declare the chief executive unable to discharge his duties, has been the subject of liberal fantasies since before Trump took office.

But the invasion of the U.S. Capitol by a mob has done what four years of turmoil, upheaval, and scandal couldn’t: Revived serious talk about enacting the rarely used constitutional provision to sideline Trump. The most stunning salvo came from the National Association of Manufacturers, a major business lobby. In a statement released while the Capitol was still overrun by the Trump-backing mob, Jay Timmons, the head of the manufacturing lobby, suggested Trump be removed from office. “The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy. Anyone indulging conspiracy theories is complicit. Vice President Pence, who was evacuated from the Capitol, should seriously consider working with the cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment to preserve democracy.”

Former President George W. Bush, who has sought to avoid the political fray in the Trump era, called the events “an insurrection” and said, “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.” Republican Trump critics in Congress like Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called it an attempted coup. Rep. Nancy Mace, a newly elected Republican from South Carolina, said Trump’s accomplishments were “wiped out” by Wednesday’s events. And Alyssa Farah, a former White House communications director, took to Twitter to insist “the Election was NOT stolen. We lost” and condemning the violence.

It’s not clear whether Trump’s standing among Republicans has entirely shattered, but these are real cracks in the party’s public support for him that have never appeared before. The storming of the Capitol is likely to be the defining event of his administration and weaken his stranglehold on the Republican Party. Trump, however, still has an ardent base, as evidenced by the hundreds who charged into the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon with flags declaring their allegiance to him. Still, with his actions having cost Republicans control of the Senate Tuesday in Georgia, and with the U.S. Capitol invaded for the first time since the War of 1812, many Republicans have finally had enough.

In two weeks, it will no longer be Trump’s White House. And it may not be Trump’s Republican Party, either.

Ben Jacobs is a politics reporter based in Washington. Follow him on Twitter at @bencjacobs.

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