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UPDATE: Pelosi unveils law allowing Congress to oust president

By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution #local-all (CNT)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland announced legislation Friday morning that would allow Congress to remove Donald Trump or any future president from office through the 25th amendment. 

Pelosi and Raskin said the commission will “enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership” in the federal government’s executive branch.

The Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office is linked to the constitution’s 25th Amendment, which outlines the presidential line of succession, or who becomes president should the president become disabled, resign or be removed from office.

Pelosi said the bill to evaluate mental and physical capacity of future presidents is not about Trump, who she said will “face judgment of the voters.” But “he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.

“This is not about the upcoming election at all,” Pelosi said, adding “we have to give some comfort to people.” Pelosi said Democrats are not invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump.

The proposed commission, which is unlikely to be approved by the GOP-controlled Senate, would be comprised of 16 members, eight of whom would be chosen by Republicans and Democrats from the medical profession, and eight others from among the ranks of former executive branch officials.

“This would be a truly bipartisan commission,” Raskin said.

The White House took immediately to Twitter to denounce the legislation.

In an open letter to House Democrats on Thursday, Pelosi said “the President does not have the capacity, leadership or plan for testing, tracing, and isolation that is needed. Instead, [Donald] Trump’s delay, denial, distortion of reality and disdain for science has exacted a deadly and preventable human toll.”

During a Thursday afternoon briefing, Pelosi told reporters to come back to Capitol Hill on Friday, saying, “we’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.” She did not elaborate on her comment.

Raskin is a Democrat from Maryland’s 8th District and sits on the House Judiciary, Rules and Oversight and Government Reform committees, among others.

Trump took to Twitter himself Thursday afternoon after Pelosi’s comment. 

Pelosi has been questioning the status of Trump’s health.

“I think that the public needs to know the health condition of the President,” Pelosi said earlier this week. “There’s one question that he refused to answer … when was his last negative test?” Pelosi said this information is necessary in order to “make a judgment about the actions that were taken after that.”

“Let us see a date, a time when you last tested negative.”

The California Democrat made the comment while downplaying hopes Congress and the White House could reach an agreement on a stand-alone coronavirus stimulus bill to bail out the crippled airline industry. Pelosi insisted she would only consider an airline support bill, estimated at $25 billion, as part of talks for a full-blown stimulus plan that would cost about $2 trillion.

“There is no stand-alone bill without a bigger bill,” Pelosi said.

The 25th Amendment was passed by Congress on July 6, 1965, less than two years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was ratified on Feb. 10, 1967, and outlines the presidential line of succession, or who becomes president should the president become disabled, resign or be removed from office.

Here’s what the amendment says:

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. 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. Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days 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. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, the 25th Amendment was an effort to resolve the question of what would happen if the president died, resigned, was removed from office or became so incapacitated that he couldn’t fulfill his duties.

Here’s the line of succession for the presidency of the United States:

1. Vice President Mike Pence

2. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

3. President pro tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley

4. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

5. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin

6. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

7. Attorney General William Barr

8. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt

9. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

10. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

11. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia

12. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar

13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

14. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Choa, who is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and cannot become president.

15. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette

16. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie

18. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf