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US Election 2020

25th Amendment: Pelosi announces talks on Presidential removal

The Speaker of the House questioned the President’s mental state and looks set to begin succession discussions tomorrow, but what is the 25th Amendment?

The Speaker of the House questioned the President’s mental state and looks set to begin succession discussions tomorrow, but what is the 25th Amendment?

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has revealed that she will be discussing the 25th Amendment when she returns to the Hill tomorrow. The amendment, introduced in 1967, relates to the transfer of power if the President is incapacitated. Pelosi made the announcement at her weekly press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Given its highly specific nature many have already begun to speculate that she may be discussing the 25th Amendment in relation to Donald Trump’s ongoing battle with Covid-19. However when pressed by reporters Pelosi refused to elaborate on the precise reason for the talks.

What is the 25th Amendment?

The 25th Amendment outlines the procedure for transferring power from the president to the vice president in cases of “Presidential vacancy, disability and inability”. It was introduced following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 as legislators realised the need for a clear line of succession if the President is unable to fulfil his duties.

It was invoked to provide guidelines for Gerald Ford’s succession of Richard Nixon in 1974, when the President resigned from office.

In 1985, when President Ronald Reagan was found to have a pre-cancerous lesion that he required immediate surgery on, he followed the procedures detailed in the 25th Amendment to briefly transfer presidential powers to Vice President George H. W. Bush.

More recently, President George W. Bush invoked a section of the 25th Amendment to temporarily designate his powers to Vice President Dick Cheney while he underwent surgery.

In short, it can be used to allow the Vice President to be ‘substituted’ in if the president is temporarily incapacitated for any reason. Trump has publically claimed to have made a full recovery after contracting Covid-19 but Robert Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, said recently: “For the next few days, I’d want him 50 feet away from an ICU, not a helicopter ride.”

Pelosi questions the President’s behaviour amid ongoing treatment

Trump shared a video of himself at the White House yesterday where he praised the experimental drug Regeneron for his sharp upturn in health, describing it as “incredible”. However he is thought to have been the first person in the world to have received that specific cocktail of medicine and little is known about potential side effects.

During the course of his treatment the President has also been receiving the steroid Dexamethasone. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published their findings on the drug and warn of a number of potentially very serious side effects, many of which relate to some form of mental impairment. Anxiety; abnormal behaviour; cognitive impairment; mood alteration and psychotic disorder have all been linked to the steroid.

Trump launches attacks on political rivals

The President’s behaviour has grown increasingly erratic in the week since his positive coronavirus test was made public. On Thursday morning he gave a bizarre telephone interview to Fox Business in which he attacked Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris for her performance in the previous night’s Vice Presidential debate.

Trump referred to the sitting senator and Vice Presidential nominee as “a monster”, calling her “terrible… totally unlikeable” and a “communist”.

He struck a similar tone on his Twitter feed on Thursday afternoon when responding to Pelosi’s speech.

Friday looks set to be a momentous day in the course of both the 2020 General Election of Donald Trump’s Presidency. Keep up to date with all the stories as they develop with our Coronavirus USA live updates