Following Donald Trump’s admission of providing the Russian government secret information, his presidency seemed to have been seriously weakened and reassessed even among his own party. Professor Owen described the aftermath: “As Washington becomes increasingly engulfed by the spiralling crises in Donald Trump’s presidency, and even prominent Republicans compare it to the dark days of Watergate, even Republican voices have been asking how Donald Trump might be replaced.”
The article drew a parallel between Trump’s current situation and former US presidents who have previously been removed from office, for different reasons. The article then explained some of the laws which could be used to do just that. “ Six decades ago, Dwight Eisenhower’s various illnesses stimulated a serious debate in the Congress over this question, but it was not until the 1963 assassination of his successor John F. Kennedy that Congress approved the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which provided a set of procedures for replacing a president in the event of death, removal (permanently or temporarily), resignation, or incapacity.”
Continuing, Professor Owens explained that the 25th Amendment could also give presidents a way to leave the office voluntarily: “Its section three stipulates that the incumbent can make a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House that: “he [sic] 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.”
The article also dealt with impeachment, which can also be used to remove a president from his position: “For Trump to be removed from office pursuant to Article II, section four of the constitution, he would need to be impeached and found guilty of ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours’. And now the US Department of Justice has appointed the highly regarded and greatly experienced Robert Mueller as special counsel with broad authority to investigate ‘any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.’”
He added: “If Congress regarded Trump as a danger to the country, the House could use the impeachment process to remove him. With Republicans in control of Congress as well as the White House, whether or not impeachment is invoked will depend then on opinion within the Republican Conference in the House, as well as a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
The article concluded by questioning the role of vice-presidents and cabinet secretaries in the removal of a president from government and reassessing president functions’ legitimacy: “Were the 25th Amendment activated in this way, it would surely open the possibility of political coups, thereby undermining the presidency’s legitimacy and the premise that officeholders are chosen by voters.”