Online Originals: Impeachment and the 25th Amendment: What does it all mean?

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The events that took place at our nation’s Capitol on Wednesday were shocking for a lot of the country.

Many cited President Donald Trump as the instigator of the day’s events. Now, members of Congress are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment and the possibility of impeaching President Trump before his term is complete.

Many Democratic leaders are pushing for some type of removal to occur. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for his “seditious acts”.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Thursday, “This president should not hold office one day longer.”

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. If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.

Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader

But what does that actually entail? Is it even feasible? And what are the different outcomes?

9 On Your Side spoke with Linda Monk, J.D., a constitutional scholar, journalist and nationally award-winning author to help break down what this process could look like.

Monk says her first reaction to the events at the Capitol was grief.

”Yesterday for the first time in our history we did not have what was necessary for a peaceful transfer of power. For more than 200 years that’s been out badge of honor as the United States. Even when the Civil War happened, it happened after a legitimate transfer of power.”

Linda Monk, J.D.

She also says she believes self-government is a God given gift and we need to respect, honor, and defend that…but that doesn’t include taking arms against our own country.

The 25th Amendment states that if the president dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vice president becomes acting president.

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

25th Amendment, Section IV

In order for this amendment to be invoked, Vice President Pence would need to produce a letter co-signed by a majority of Trump’s cabinet members (11 out of 23), and then deliver that letter to House and Senate leaders. Congress would then have to convene within 48 hours and vote on the matter within 21 days. If 2/3rds of both chambers agree that Trump is unfit to serve, than Pence would finish out the presidents term as Acting President. Acting President is not the same as the president. Vice President Pence would have ‘temporary’ presidential power for the final days of the administrations term.

However, if Vice President Pence were to take over the presidency by vote of impeachment, then he would be the 46th president of the United States, and Joe Biden would become the 47th.

But with only 13 days left in President Trump’s term, the possibility of a vote is not likely. And if both chambers do not vote within that 21 day period, the power of president would be transferred back to President Trump for the remainder of his term.

The 25th Amendment is separate from impeachment. Impeachment allows Congress to remove a sitting president if a majority of the House votes that he has committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. A trial in the Senate can convict and then remove the president from office.

House Judiciary Democrats already sent a letter to Vice President Pence on Wednesday urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment and to remove Trump from office.

Democratic lawmakers have already drafted and signed an Articles of Impeachment letter in hopes to remove Trump from office as soon as possible.

Lawmakers are citing the president’s Saturday phone call with Georgia’s Secretary of State in which the president urged state officials to “find” votes that could overturn his loss there during November’s presidential election, as a criminal act that justifies impeachment.

There is no word from Pence on whether he will go forward with the 25th Amendment, but many lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike say they have never seen the vice president as upset as he was Wednesday.

“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday night. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”

Lawmakers across the country say they hope Pence will step up and take control of power for the remainder of the term, but it is still up in the air what will happen over the next two weeks.

Monk said there really needs to be a conversation between the president, his administration and cabinet members on what is best for the country right now. And, she says, if the president stays in office he needs to make a conscious decision to stabilize the country.

If you’re interested in more things constitutional law or you want to check out more work from Linda Monk on the topic you can head to http://lindamonk.com/

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