Scores of popular twitter users, including many media personalities and pundits, posted tweets on Friday citing the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides for a process for removing a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Fox Business reporter Susan Li noted that “#Google searches on the #25thAmendment SURGED up! after the news broke”:
— Susan Li (@SusanLiTV) October 2, 2020
MSNBC analyst David Corn was quick to invoke the amendment:
25th Amendment? https://t.co/4aDeSEKQKK
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) October 2, 2020
CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour tweeted that constitutional law expert Deborah Pearlstein says the 25th amendment provides for a scenario of President Trump’s diagnosis worsening:
What happens if President Trump’s diagnosis worsens? Constitutional law expert @DebPearlstein says the 25th amendment provides for that eventuality – but it gets a lot more complicated if the president himself doesn’t believe he is incapacitated, while those around him do… pic.twitter.com/Lqtji4lTZm
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) October 2, 2020
USA TODAY justice and legal affairs reporter Kristine Phillips said, “It’s too soon to talk about the president’s demise, but it’s not too soon to talk about the 25th Amendment. Trump’s symptoms could get worse and could affect his thinking.”:
It's too soon to talk about the president's demise, but it's not too soon to talk about the 25th Amendment. Trump's symptoms could get worse and could affect his thinking. https://t.co/XKPtHCJ327 via @usatoday
— Kristine Phillips ♀️ (@bykristinep) October 2, 2020
Author Michael Beschloss also referenced the amendment:
Here is the draft of a letter to be sent by President Reagan passing power to Vice President Bush under 25th Amendment after his March 1981 shooting—it was never signed and sent, even though Reagan required anesthesia and was under intensive care: pic.twitter.com/ScsHUeVChO
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) October 2, 2020
CBS-affiliated WUSA9 tweeted that “the 25th Amendment helps accommodate for situations” when a president gets “too sick”:
Both President Donald Trump and Melania Trump are reportedly experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, with many wondering:
• What would the future of the debates look like?
• Could COVID forces the president to drop out of the 2020 election?
• Who would take over, and when?
— WUSA9 (@wusa9) October 2, 2020
Senior Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion David Shipley tweeted a “crash course on the 25th Amendment” from Cass Sunstein, who was in the Justice Department when Reagan was shot:
— David Shipley (@davidjshipley) October 2, 2020
Author Paul Brandus noted that the amendment “was last invoked in 2007, when then-President George W. Bush briefly transferred his authority to Vice-President Dick Cheney, while Bush underwent a colonoscopy”:
The 25th Amendment, which concerns transferal of power from president to vice-president, was last invoked in 2007, when then-President George W. Bush briefly transferred his authority to Vice-President Dick Cheney, while Bush underwent a colonoscopy
— West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport) October 2, 2020
NPR Politics tweeted, “What Happens If The President Is Incapacitated? The 25th Amendment Charts A Course”:
What Happens If The President Is Incapacitated? The 25th Amendment Charts A Course https://t.co/haj9QoWEz5
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) October 2, 2020
Author Stephen Schwartz tweeted about the text and history of the 25th Amendment “in case it becomes necessary to invoke it one way or another in the coming days”:
Here's the text and history of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, in case it becomes necessary to invoke it one way or another in the coming days (https://t.co/QSffRC9OdL): pic.twitter.com/COyqDhU1K0
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) October 2, 2020
Frequent CNN political and legal pundit Sophia Nelson tweeted, “#25thAmendment maybe?”:
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) October 2, 2020
Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera stated: “25th Amendment possible,” while warning that Vice President Mike Pence “has to be ready to be ‘Acting President’ under Sec 3” of the amendment:
What America needs now is for @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS to take it easy, listen to their doctors, forget politics for a few days & get well. In the meantime, @VP has to be ready to be "Acting President" under Sec 3 of 25th Amendment. The rest of us have to stay calm & carry on.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) October 2, 2020
Reuters correspondent Pete Schroeder stated that “the surprise return of the 25th amendment is quite the twist”:
I know the "boy isn't real life a crazy script someone wrote" tweets are hacky, but honestly the surprise return of the 25th amendment is quite the twist.
— Pete Schroeder (@peteschroeder) October 2, 2020
In an even more extreme scenario being promoted, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is depicted as possibly taking over as president as MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, speaking with Pelosi, stated: “You are second in line for the presidency. Has the White House contacted you about the continuity of government?”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 2, 2020
Others pointed out that jumping to discussions involving implementing the 25th Amendment under the current circumstances is patently absurd.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has tried to provide reason amidst the hysteria: “The greatest health threat evident from this news is the spontaneous hyperventilation of dozens of pundits and politicians,” he wrote.
…However, the greatest health threat evident from this news is the spontaneous hyperventilation of dozens of pundits and politicians. Remember our Constitution was made for bad times, not good times. That why it is the most successful constitutional system in history.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) October 2, 2020
Political operative Ford O’Connell, noting all the talk about the 25th Amendment, stated that “the level of nonsense flying around in the media is beyond outrageous”:
The level of nonsense flying around in the media is beyond outrageous.
People are talking about the 25th Amendment, the nuclear arsenal and the line of succession, and it is not even 3:00 PM ET.
Get a grip folks, it's too much – especially for a Friday.
— Ford O'Connell (@FordOConnell) October 2, 2020
Newsmax TV tweeted out that Alan Dershowitz stated that there’s no need to ‘seriously’ consider the 25th Amendment at this time:
— Newsmax (@newsmax) October 2, 2020
Despite associating the implementation of the 25th Amendment with the President’s COVID diagnosis, opponents have discussed invoking the amendment to oust him from the presidency on frequent occasion since his election.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.