Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says if President Donald Trump's Cabinet really thinks he's unfit for office, it should use the Constitution to remove him.
"If senior administration officials think the president of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment," Warren tells CNN. "The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the vice president and senior officials think the president can't do his job."
The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1967, says that if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet agree the president "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," they must alert the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate. At that point, the vice president becomes acting president. If the president disagrees with his officials, then it's up to Congress. It takes a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate to keep the president from reassuming his office.
Warren's comments came amid a week of turmoil for the Trump administration. On Wednesday, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from a "senior official" in the administration. The article describes "early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment," but wrote that "no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis." The day before the op-ed was published, excerpts of veteran journalist Bob Woodward's upcoming book Fear revealed that top aides reportedly conspired to remove documents from Trump's desk.
"What kind of a crisis do we have if senior officials believe that the president can't do his job and then refuse to follow the rules that have been laid down in the Constitution?" the Massachusetts Democrat tells CNN. "They can't have it both ways. Either they think that the president is not capable of doing his job in which case they follow the rules in the Constitution, or they feel that the president is capable of doing his job, in which case they follow what the president tells them to do."
Warren expressed similar sentiments on Twitter:
If senior officials believe the president is unfit, they should stop hiding behind anonymous op-eds and leaking info to Bob Woodward, and do what the Constitution demands they do: invoke the 25th Amendment and remove this president from office.— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) September 6, 2018
And on her 2018 re-election campaign website, she encourages supporters to "Tell the Cabinet: If Trump is unfit, invoke the 25th."
While Warren won't say if she's running for president in 2020, she's expected to be one of the top democratic contenders if she does. So her grandstanding against Trump isn't surprising, just as it wasn't shocking to see Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) make a scene at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing yesterday.
Just because Warren has ulterior motives doesn't mean she's wrong, of course. Without getting into whether or not Trump actually is unfit for office, she's absolutely correct that there's a legal recourse. Just like impeachment, the 25th Amendment is right there in the Constitution.
Photo Credit: Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press/Newscom