There have been many times during Donald Trump's presidency when calls to invoke the 25th amendment have arisen. However, at no time before Jan. 6, 2021 — in the wake of a mob of violent protesters storming the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. — was the message as loud or as widespread. But what does it mean, exactly?
What does it mean to invoke the 25th amendment?
The 25th amendment was approved by Congress in 1965 and then ratified by the required three-quarters of U.S. states in 1967. Basically, it allows the vice president to become acting president when a president is unable to carry out presidential duties. (Like during a surgery or a prolonged illness, for example.)
The 25th amendment also says that a president can be removed from office if the vice president — along with a majority of the cabinet — determines the president is "unable to discharge the powers and duties" of the office.
The president, of course, can contest this. But if the vice president and cabinet persist in invoking the 25th, then a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress can still order the president's removal.
Some cabinet members are holding preliminary discussions about invoking the 25th amendment to force Trump’s removal from office, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN. It’s unclear whether the effort would ultimately be successful at this stage.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 7, 2021
Why are politicians saying the 25th amendment should be invoked?
On Jan. 6, Trump encouraged his supporters to march with him to the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to certify the electoral count. The president has been continually spreading conspiracy theories about (non-existent) widespread voter fraud and has insisted the 2020 election was "stolen" from him.
"We're going to walk down to the Capitol. And we're gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering, so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong," he said at a rally held at the Ellipse, near the White House, according to CNN.
Our republic is in great danger, and it is imperiled further without swift action to protect it.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2021
The President incited an attack on Congress. He is deeply unstable. The Cabinet must invoke the 25th amendment.
Congress must also pursue impeachment and removal of the President.
Trump's response to the rioters who then infiltrated the Capitol Building did little to discourage them.
"I know your pain. I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us," the POTUS told his followers in a video that aired during the riot. "You have to go home now. We have to have peace."
He added, "It's a very tough period of time. There's never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country."
Four people were reportedly killed, police officers were injured, and dozens were arrested as a result of the violence. However, Congress resumed counting the electoral votes later that evening, and the results were certified early in the morning on Jan. 7.
Widespread calls to invoke the 25th amendment came in the wake of the violence.
The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 7, 2021
If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.
As history watches, I urge Vice President Pence and the President’s Cabinet to put country before party and invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. My full statement here: https://t.co/ZFIblKBTQi— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) January 7, 2021
Although it was mostly Democrats calling to invoke the 25th amendment at first, some Republicans also floated the idea in private — and a few even did so publicly. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the first GOP member of Congress to call for Trump's removal from office.
It’s with a heavy heart I am calling for the sake of our Democracy that the 25th Amendment be invoked. My statement: pic.twitter.com/yVyQrYcjuD— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 7, 2021
Cabinet members have also been involved in discussions about removing Donald Trump by invoking the 25th amendment, multiple outlets reported.
For now, at least, it looks like we'll have to wait and see how the last two weeks of his presidency plays out — and whether or not the 25th amendment will come into play at all.