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Elizabeth Warren to Cabinet: If You Don't Like Trump, Give Him the Boot

The Massachusetts Democrat is grandstanding, but that doesn't mean she's wrong.

Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press/NewscomMichael Brochstein/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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:

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

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  • grips||

    Her mouth is open and words are coming out, she's wrong.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    It's all smoke signals.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What is the smoke signal for Warren is a liar.

    That is NOT what the 25th Amendment says.

  • IceTrey||

    Which because she is not a Native Anerican comes out as gibberish. :)

  • KevinP||

    Warren for President!

    We need our first Indian-American president. It is high time.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Are you trying to Curry favor?

  • Idle Hands||

    How? can she win enough territories to become commander and chief?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    If she wins, there's always the danger of someone counting coup on her.

  • DarrenM||

    Nikki Haley?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    She does us all a huge service by disqualifying herself from higher office.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>whenever the vice president and senior officials think the president can't do his job

    kinda not the standard, Liz.

  • LynchPin1477||

    She's not entirely wrong, but there is a lot of space between "agrees with the President on everything" and "thinks the President is unfit for office". The other issue is that an anonymous op-ed doesn't imply the view is shared by the VP or cabinet.

  • mpercy||

    Even if the view is shared privately, it needs the VP and a majority of the cabinet AND for them to be willing to go on the record to that effect. Rumors of whispers and blatherings in anonymous op-eds are not at all the same thing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    She's stupid and wrong. Which is even worse.

    The VP and cabinet submit a declaration that Trump is unable to fulfill duties to Senate. The VP immediately takes over.
    The moment the President submits a declaration that there is no inability to fulfill duties, then he takes over again.

    If there is a dispute then 2/3 of the House and Senate decide.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If this Banana Republic coup succeeds, Civil War 2.0 is on.

    I will sign off and let all you know my real name. The internet will go down within a short time frame anyway.

    God speed.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Your real name is God Speed?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    We all might be named God Speed someday soon.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Sen. Warren suggested that if the situation in the White House among senior officials is as bad as the New York Times opinion article, the Woodward book, and other sources indicate, that those officials should consider invoking the 25th Amendment.

    That is neither stupid nor wrong. Your description of the 25th Amendment is largely irrelevant to your ostensible point.

    Other than that, great comment!

  • LynchPin1477||

    There is room for disagreement on what "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office". I can certainly see why someone might argue that it means for reason of physical/mental incapacitation, but I don't think you can limit it to that based on the wording alone.

    But either way, "don't like these policies" doesn't rise that level. The things that might, beyond incapacitation, are a total refusal to perform basic responsibilities or knowing and willing violation of the oath of office. But one could also argue that the normal impeachment procedure is appropriate there, in which case the VP and cabinet's role would be to inform Congress of the situation and allow them to act.

    My initial comment was more certain, but after thinking about it a bit and re-reading the text of the amendment that lc posted below, I'm far less certain Warren is correct even in the hypothetical.

  • Eddy||

    Maybe if he's captured in battle like Napoleon III.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The 25th Amendment is about incapacitation of the President and replacing the VP.

    The Twenty–fifth Amendment was an effort to resolve some of the continuing issues revolving about the office of the President; that is, what happens upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President and what is the course to follow if for some reason the President becomes disabled to such a degree that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities? The practice had been well established that the Vice President became President upon the death of the President, as had happened eight times in our history. Presumably, the Vice President would become President upon the removal of the President from office. Whether the Vice President would become acting President when the President became unable to carry on and whether the President could resume his office upon his recovering his ability were two questions that had divided scholars and experts. Also, seven Vice Presidents had died in office and one had resigned, so that for some twenty per cent of United States history there had been no Vice President to step up. But the seemingly most insoluble problem was that of presidential inability—Garfield lying in a coma for eighty days before succumbing to the effects of an assassin's bullet, Wilson an invalid for the last eighteen months of his term, the result of a stroke—with its unanswered questions:

  • loveconstitution1789||

    (contd) who was to determine the existence of an inability, how was the matter to be handled if the President sought to continue, in what manner should the Vice President act, would he be acting President or President, what was to happen if the President recovered. Congress finally proposed this Amendment to the States in the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination, with the Vice Presidency vacant and a President who had previously had a heart attack.

    This Amendment saw multiple use during the 1970s and resulted for the first time in our history in the accession to the Presidency and Vice–Presidency of two men who had not faced the voters in a national election. First, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, and President Nixon nominated Gerald R. Ford of Michigan to succeed him, following the procedures of Sec. 2 of the Amendment for the first time. Hearings were held upon the nomination by the Senate Rules Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, both Houses thereafter confirmed the nomination, and the new Vice President took the oath of office December 6, 1973. Second, President Richard M. Nixon resigned his office August 9, 1974, and Vice President Ford immediately succeeded to the office and took the presidential oath of office at noon of the same day.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    (contd) Third, again following Sec. 2 of the Amendment, President Ford nominated Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York to be Vice President; on August 20, 1974, hearings were held in both Houses, confirmation voted and Mr. Rockefeller took the oath of office December 19, 1974

    For the legislative history, see S. Rep. No. 66, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965); H.R. Rep. No. 203, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965); H.R. Rep. No. 564, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965). For an account of the history of the succession problem, see R. Silva, Presidential Succession (1951).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Who cares what cabinet members FEELZ. Trump is their boss and he was elected to do exactly what he is doing.

    Trump is NOT the problem. The bureaucrats and political appointees trying to stage a coup are.

    Your comments are always bad.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Whether she's right or wrong, It would require the people the OpEd speaks of to go on record.

    I would almost like to see them pull the 25th Amendment crap just to see who's behind the OpEd.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|9.7.18 @ 2:17PM|#
    "Sen. Warren suggested that if the situation in the White House among senior officials is as bad as the New York Times opinion article, the Woodward book, and other sources indicate, that those officials should consider invoking the 25th Amendment.
    That is neither stupid nor wrong."

    It is both, asshole.

  • Brian||

    I see that, for the sake of the 25th amendment, we're defining "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" as "doing things I don't like."

    OK, can we all just be adults and admit we''ll take anything we can and run with it if it might mean getting rid of Trump? That that's the point, and not really any facts of any real issue, other than how it may be used as a justification for the conclusion we needed to reach regardless before he even took office? OK, thank you.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Face it, impeachment of the President has only been used for "doing things I don't like", and that's about all that politics is. Anyone who thinks or thought the 25th Amendment ever meant anything else or would be used in any other manner is a fool.

  • Bearded Spock||

    They need a medical or mental crisis severe enough to provide a fig leaf to their real intentions. Something like Wilson's drooling semi-vegetative state after his stroke.

    Trump simply being a loudmouthed, self-contradicting ass isn't going to cut it, because everyone knows that's who Trump is and many of them voted for him anyway.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Immaterial. Irrelevant. The only repercussions will be from voters, and if 2/3 of each chamber vote for his removal, there will be no voter repercussions.

  • DarrenM||

    a loudmouthed, self-contradicting ass

    That would apply to quite a lot of people in Washington, D.C.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Face it, impeachment of the President has only been used"

    The real truth is that it hasn't really been used at all. Only two bills of impeachment have ever been issued by the House against US Presidents, both failed in the Senate. No President has ever been removed by impeachment.

  • Eddy||

    Impeachment is just the accusation. Two impeachments, each of which ended up with an acquittal.

  • Pro Libertate||

    This is so ridiculous. The amendment is about incapacity (among other things), not competence in performance or whether people like a president's behavior. I don't much like Trump, either, but he's not incapacitated. Besides, what are the odd the VP and appointees would go along?

    Also, Warren is more of a buffoon than Trump.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Senate should simply expel Warren for being an incapacited lunatic.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They can do that, you know.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I dont know about you, but I have every finger and toe crossed for the Senate and/or House to make an example of a Senator and/or Representative.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We should impeach and remove officials on a regular basis.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Should and do are two different animals that barely know each other.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Elizabeth Warren is great. And she's absolutely correct about this.

    Between the 25th Amendment, Mueller's ongoing investigation into #TrumpRussia, and the coming #BlueWave Congress, Drumpf will be removed from office by this time next year.

    #Resist
    #LibertariansForWarren

  • Pro Libertate||

    Warren is great,
    She gave us the chocolate cake.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Not even Bill would have done her.

    #StillWIthHim
    #InternsToo
    $ChildrenToo
    #ButNotFauxchanotas

  • Bearded Spock||

    Are you sure? This is Bill Clinton we're talking about here.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Too old.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Schwarzenegger might.

  • chipper me timbers||

    all these fools thinking they want to boot Trump. You''ll get President PENCE! wtf

  • ||

    In certain ways, I think that will be more comforting for Team Blue. Pence is much more what they want a Republican to be. Since Trump's positions on things change with each passing moment, they have a hard time knowing what to oppose over the course of any particular day.

  • Brian||

    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.

    Since Trump is the president, I can't help but assume it's highly likely that this was a confession of multiple federal felony crimes.

  • I can't even||

    She sure seems anxious to start a civil war.

  • Bearded Spock||

    Yep, she's on the war path.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Unfortunately for her, her fake tribe would never back her up.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Only in drum circles on campus

  • Calidissident||

    Even if the Cabinet unanimously felt that Trump needed to be removed, they couldn't do it without Pence on board so it's a moot point if he isn't. Also, it seems highly unlikely they could get two thirds of both houses of Congress to agree which would be needed to make it permanently successful.

  • DarrenM||

    The process is the point. It's pure politics. It's about making Trump look as bad as possible. Only an idiot would think Trump could actually be removed from office.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The way the headline of the article is worded: the sentiment is wrong. The cabinet should not be invoking a process for removing a duly elected president because they don't like him. That should only be used for physical or mental incapacitation, not because they do not agree with how or why the president is deciding things. That is undermining and abusing the republican processes of government and a line the cabinet should not cross except in real need.

  • Ron||

    I'd like to know of what cabinets ever fully agreed with everything ever president has proposed in the past. Were they all yes men. Is Trump's cabinet the first in history to not agree with everything which I think would be a good thing that he has a cabinet that questions their leader. The only difference here is we have people signaling their creeds of hate and shouldn't be working in his cabinet.

  • ||

    Both John Tyler and Chester Arthur had their cabinets essentially walk out on them. But both were also cases of VPs taking over for died-in-office cases where they had been adversarial running mates designed to unite wildly opposed factions of the same party.

  • creech||

    It's back to the Roman Empire? First Booker invokes Spartacus (yeah, like Booker is heroic or something) and now Warren wants the Praetorian Guard to remove the Emperor. And just last Saturday, everyone was invoking civility and democracy.

  • I can't even||

    Lot's of stuff makes this feel like the late Republic era. Once all the rules are tossed out by one side, the other side gives them up too. Then the Republic is dead and Sulla is killing everyone who ever annoyed him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhlOqMMMsXI

  • ||

    Lot's of stuff makes this feel like the late Republic era.

    This is the irony, though (on both ends of history). The Praetorian Guard taking power was well into the Imperial Age. The defeat of Sulla was what created the illusion that the Republic was being preserved while it was in fact slowly being turned into a permanent dictatorship. But up until the third century, when it had completed its transformation into open military dictatorship, Roman Citizens still believed that they lived in a representative democracy, which simply had a very strong Commander-in-Chief (Imperator) looking out for national security.

  • I can't even||

    Sulla won - it was Gaius Marius who lost the fist civil war then dropped dead right after starting the 2nd one.

    Sulla got himself declared Dictator and imposed all kinds of much needed reforms. He gave up the dictatorship, served a term as Consul, then retired. His reforms lasted until his death, then Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus finished off the Republic.

  • ||

    Right you are - I'm confusing my dictators. I was thinking Sulla was the one who took power and then succumbed to dementia. I may have conflated him with Marius, but most directly I was remarking, as summarized by Wikipedia: "Sulla is generally seen as having set the precedent for Caesar's march on Rome and dictatorship. Cicero comments that Pompey once said "If Sulla could, why can't I?".[34] Sulla's example proved that it could be done, and therefore inspired others to attempt it; and in this respect, he has been seen as another step in the Republic's fall."

    But my main point is that we should consider that we if we are analogizing the US to Rome, the "Fall of the Republic" may well be more like the Jacksonian era, where we are perhaps more in the days of Nero than we are in the days of Sulla.

  • I can't even||

    The lesson of Marius and Sulla - once the rules are tossed overboard in the pursuit of power, they aren't going to be reestablished for a very long time. Violence and tyranny will inevitably follow regardless of who wins.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "But my main point is that we should consider that we if we are analogizing the US to Rome, the "Fall of the Republic" may well be more like the Jacksonian era, where we are perhaps more in the days of Nero than we are in the days of Sulla."

    Ehh I don't think so. Power is not that centralized, Donald Trump with a majority in both Senate and House could not even dump Obamacare. He can do virtually nothing about his border wall.

    I do not think we are where you think we are yet. I agree we are starting to see the Rubicon (Potomac perhaps) off in the distance where military men dictate to politicians, but we can turn back. For that to happen though we need to weather the Trump storm and hope the Democratic retardation that will inevitably follow will not break the Republic.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    XXV Amendment:
    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.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    (contd)
    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.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    One contribution of the anonymous op ed is to force everyone to reflect on the 25th amendment. To me, it seems awkwardly structured. The big problem is inclusion of the Vice President. He should be a bystander, unless events develop to a point where he must be sworn in.

    Otherwise, it doesn't seem wise to put the initiative to remove the President into the Vice President's hands. And to many Vice Presidential incumbents, it wouldn't seem right to exercise that initiative, even in some situations where most folks would conclude action was called for. The imputation of private ambition makes an awkward intrusion in either case.

    Better to reframe the amendment. Put the power of initiative in the hands of a few cabinet-level officials, and empower them to seek counsel from anyone else they feel a need to consult. I suggest the secretary of state, the secretary of the treasury, the attorney general, and the surgeon general might be an appropriate body to hold the power of initiative, and thus to free from opprobrium the vice president in the event deposing the president becomes necessary.

  • Calidissident||

    I get your point. But I think part of the reason the VP is included is relying on the assumption that if you can't get the VP on board, then the president probably doesn't need to be removed.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Exactly.

  • Sevo||

    Stephen Lathrop|9.7.18 @ 1:43PM|#
    "One contribution of the anonymous op ed is to force everyone to reflect on the 25th amendment."

    Only if you are stupid enough to assume:
    1) It was other than simply made up in the NYT editorial offices,
    and
    2) Not liking someone is grounds for impeachment.
    Can we assume you are of such limited intelligence?

  • NoVaNick||

    I am getting tired of all these "Constitutional" crises. In my opinion, the latest NYT anonymous piece is highly suspect; if whoever wrote it really is a high ranking member of Trump's inner circle, they would have little to lose by coming forward. What's the worst that could happen? Trump going apeshit on them on Twitter?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The worst thing that could happen...today is that Kavanaugh gets confirmed.

    Then in 2019, when Trump gets to pick a replacement for RBG, Thomas, Breyer, THAT will be the worst thing.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    None of that would be so bad. After the 2020 election, the Democrats likely will be able to install as many Supreme Court justices as would be required to generate a majority.

    See you then, clingers.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Didn't work during St. Roosevelt's reign, wouldn't work now.

  • PurityDiluting||

    Didn't work then cuz a fellow Dem senator put the kibosh on the attempt.
    No such impediment will be in place next time. Like a broken clock, the Rev is right this time.
    Will they pack the court with 2, 4, 6 or 8 highly qualified candidates at the opposite end of the judicial spectrum from Trump's 2 picks?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am sure that is the Lefty backup fever dream, after election 2018 goes against the Democrats.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|9.7.18 @ 2:19PM|#
    "None of that would be so bad. After the 2020 election, the Democrats likely will be able to install as many Supreme Court justices as would be required to generate a majority.
    See you then, clingers."

    Annoying asshole proposes packing the court! How...........
    pathetic.
    Fuck off, asshole.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I don't think any single president should get to pick more than two.

  • DarrenM||

    I say one per presidential term and combine that with a limit on how long a justice can serve (maybe 30 years)? There would have to be provisions for selecting more than that for when more than one vacancy came up.

  • Tony||

    Then we could be the Christian version of Iran and wouldn't that be just great.

  • Tony||

    We don't want presidents who misrepresent their identity. That's why we elected John Barron.

  • IceTrey||

    "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause." - Padme Amidala

  • Rockabilly||

    Fuck you Warren ass hat ass hole.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I've seen this episode of 24 before. It was good.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Our best hope is that there is a Jack Fucking Baur somewhere in the deep state who can clean up the mess when the shit hits the fan.

  • crookedbill||

    Never thought I'd say it but, I absolutely agree with Warren on this.

    A presidential appointee works for the president, or they don't. Don't like it? Quit and come forward. Go public.

    That anonymous hit-piece was a total bitch move, bordering on treason. I believe in limited government, not a government filled with self-righteous weekend revolutionaries aiming to cause partisan chaos with the aid of mainstream liberal media. Disgraceful.

  • DarrenM||

    Assuming it is even legitimate, It was written by someone who would have preferred Hillary Clinton as president. It would not surprise me that the author would even expect to still be working in a H. Clinton administration.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Down with elected Representatives! Rule of the Top Men NOW!"

  • DarrenM||

    It's not that Trump "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," but that he discharges those powers in a way and to an end Warren does not like. It's all about image. This is enough for a coup, though, from her perspective.

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