(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) has released the following statement after an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration wrote that the President’s own Cabinet considered invoking the 25th Amendment:
A “senior official in the Trump administration” just published an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times which says that, because of the President’s “instability,” there were “early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment.” But this official says his or her White House group has decided instead to work covertly to subvert the President’s “detrimental” impulses, and bizarre and erratic decision-making.
But the 25th Amendment, adopted in 1967, does not leave this judgment solely to the Cabinet.
Under the 25th Amendment, the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet or the Vice President and a majority of “such other body as Congress may by law provide” can determine that the President is--for reasons of physical or mental incapacity--“unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Because an unstable President might fire his own Cabinet, Senator Birch Bayh, who sponsored the 25th Amendment, wanted to empower Congress itself to set up an independent “body” to act with the Vice President in the event of presidential inability.
Already 65 Members of the House have cosponsored my bill, H.R. 1987, the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act. This act sets up and defines the Congressionally-appointed “body” called for by Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. It will be a permanent standing body available to act in any presidential administration.
Under H.R. 1987, this body will consist of a panel of elder statespersons (former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, Attorneys General and so on), physicians, and psychiatrists—all of them selected in a scrupulously bipartisan and bicameral manner by Congressional leadership. The body will select an eleventh member as the Chair. It will only act to conduct a medical examination of the President at the explicit direction of Congress. And Congress always has the last word under the terms of the 25th Amendment.
Congress has a constitutional duty under the 25th Amendment to define the process by which a judgment of presidential incapacity can be made if circumstances render such a judgment necessary, in this administration or any other. I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in cosponsoring this bill, which is of pressing and enduring importance to the security of our nation.
Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration. He has been a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.