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The 25th Amendment and Trump: What, When, and Why

Graphic by Katie Zhang

Athira Nair, Opinions Writer

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January 20 will mark two years since Donald Trump officially became president of the United States. So, how has he been doing so far? According to CNN, a few key points in his presidency include health care reform, tax reform, immigration enforcement, and leaving the Paris Climate agreement. Because of the controversy, many have wondered if the president is fit for the job.

The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, states Congress and the Vice President will lead the country in the event of the current president’s death, resignation, or inability to fulfill his duties. Ever since President Trump’s inauguration, there have been whispers of invoking this amendment, the main argument being that Trump is not fit to be president.

But, is it really necessary for the 25th amendment to be applied? Currently, the answer is no, but it depends on a few factors in the future. Initially, I was tempted to rush to the conclusion of impeaching Trump since there are countless examples of President Trump’s deficiency of qualifications to serve.

Many know of Trump’s impulsive tweeting, the most famous example being when he tweeted that he had a bigger button than North Korea. He has also refused to believe in global warming and pulled out of the Paris Climate Control Agreement, a decision that left many outraged and questioning his intellect.

Freshman Courtney Kim said, “The sooner [Trump is impeached], the better.”

On the other hand, referencing his policy, freshman Ishanvi Malayanil said, “[Trump] is not inherently responsible and his administration and cabinet are more to blame.”  

Most people’s political perspective is that the president has all the power and makes all the decisions, but this power is held more by Congress than Trump. Right now, Republicans have the majority in both the House and the Senate, and the President is a Republican. There is no opposition from the Democrats, meaning that it is very easy for Republicans to pass laws relating to what they support. The reason many of Trump’s policy solutions are passed is due to the majority support in Congress.

This could very well change soon. If enough states and districts elect Democrats for the Senate and House respectively during midterms, Congress would tilt in their favor. If this were to happen, President Trump would struggle to convince Congress to agree with him. Of course, in the possible event the Republicans still have control of Congress, resorting to the 25th amendment is not the most viable option.

According to an article published in the New York Times, because of the 25th Amendment’s ambiguity, there are a number of possible outcomes that could result. Trump could fight back, Vice President Pence could become acting president and implement similar policies, or the government could fall into a state of chaos. The 25th Amendment was not written for this specific of a situation, so there is no telling what could happen.

The 25th Amendment was written after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, when there weren’t any guidelines on what to do about the situation. However, the wording is vague, and there isn’t anything specific regarding what is defined as “being unable to fulfill their duties.” If Trump were to be evaluated under the 25th Amendment, he could argue that the 25th amendment does not apply.

Kim also said, “I support the impeachment of Trump, but not using the 25th amendment as an excuse. There should be a solid reason and way [for Trump’s impeachment].” She is entirely right, the 25th amendment is not to be used as a scapegoat.

Even with Trump’s many faults, there hasn’t been a concrete reason for Trump to leave office. It would be better to avoid the hassle of having to invoke the 25th amendment and wait for midterm results. From there, the United States’ future will become much more clear, and the people will know what to do.

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The 25th Amendment and Trump: What, When, and Why