Media Promotes 25th Amendment Scenario Following Trump COVID Diagnosis

This image shows a copy of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president to take over if the commander in chief is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." A senior administration official referenced the amendment on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in an unsigned opinion piece …
National Archives via AP

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”:

MSNBC analyst David Corn was quick to invoke the amendment:

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:

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.”:

Author Michael Beschloss also referenced the amendment:

CBS-affiliated WUSA9 tweeted that “the 25th Amendment helps accommodate for situations” when a president gets “too sick”:

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: 

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”:

NPR Politics tweeted, “What Happens If The President Is Incapacitated? The 25th Amendment Charts A Course”:

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”:

Frequent CNN political and legal pundit Sophia Nelson tweeted, “#25thAmendment maybe?”:

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:

Reuters correspondent Pete Schroeder stated that “the surprise return of the 25th amendment is quite the twist”:

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?”

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. 

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”:

Newsmax TV tweeted out that Alan Dershowitz stated that there’s no need to ‘seriously’ consider the 25th Amendment at this time:

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.


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