’Incapable’: Bid to remove Trump revealed
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Friday she is pushing for a new bill to determine whether President Donald Trump - or any president - is capable of serving their full term.
On Friday, Pelosi announced legislation on the 25th Amendment that would give Congress more power to strip "future presidents" of their power - but claimed it had nothing to do with President Trump after repeatedly questioning his fitness for office.
"This is not about President Trump," Pelosi told reporters at a press conference - just one day after she claimed the commander-in-chief was in an "altered state" and speculated he couldn't execute his duties due to his treatment for COVID-19.
"He will face the judgment of the voters, but he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents," she went on, referring to his diagnosis with the coronavirus.
Pelosi, who is third in line to the presidency after Vice President Mike Pence, held a mid-morning press conference on introducing the Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act, which would evaluate the president's fitness for office.
The commission would consist of 16 members appointed by both Republican and Democratic leaders - eight of whom would be medical professionals and another eight former members of the executive branch like past presidents, vice presidents and attorneys general. A chair would be chosen by the 16 members.
President Trump, however, speculated that Pelosi's new bill was not about him but about Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
Trump said the Democrats in Congress would use their powers under the 25th Amendment to oust Biden and replace him with his much younger running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, if they win the White House.
"Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris," he told his 87 million followers on Twitter.
"The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!".
Pelosi repeatedly swatted away questions from reporters on the timing of the bill, which comes just 25 days before Election Day, and asked why this couldn't wait until a new session of Congress.
She denied, however, that the commission was a politically motivated coup and likened it to a life insurance policy should a family member have a stroke.
"It's not about the election at all," she said. "Again, this isn't about any judgment anybody has on anybody's behaviour. This is about a diagnosis, a professional medical diagnosis.
"This is a comfort to people that it's not about 'who's in power' thing; 'I don't like the way he or she is acting.' It's about a process that is bipartisan, based in the Constitution, giving Congress the power to do this which Congress hasn't done and again, at a time when people understand that there is a necessity for it.
"It isn't about any of us making a decision whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked. That's totally not the point. That's not up to us," she said.
Pelosi, along with Maryland's Representative Jamie Raskin, teased the bill on Thursday, saying it would "enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government."
The 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, says a president can be involuntarily stripped of his powers if he's unable to fulfil his duties. The unprecedented move would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.
Under Section 4 of the amendment, Congress and the vice president are given the power to decide the president's competency and ability to execute the duties of his office.
"It's made very procedurally difficult to make sure that this is really only for the most extreme situations where you have a president who cannot fulfil the functions of the office," Raskin said during Pelosi's press conference.
"I wish that Congress had set up this permanent body 50 years ago. It did not do it but we do need to do this, certainly in the next Congress.
"I guess I would say the situation has focused everybody's mind on the need for following through on this suggestion in the 25th Amendment that Congress set up its own body and I think again in the age of COVID-19 where a lot of government actors have been afflicted by it, we need to act."
A growing coronavirus outbreak at the White House has infected more than a dozen West Wing staffers, including the president himself.
The Pelosi-backed bill would have to be passed by both houses and would likely die in the Republican-held Senate. It would also have to be signed by the president.
Pelosi has questioned Trump's mental and physical fitness following his coronavirus diagnosis last week, claiming that he's "in an altered state right now" and saying the steroid dexamethasone he received may impede his judgment.
In a letter to fellow Democrats, Pelosi said Trump "irresponsibly still refuses to engage in mask wearing and social distancing" despite the 212,000 Americans killed by COVID-19 and the mounting number of cases across the country.
"The President does not have the capacity, leadership or plan for testing, tracing, and isolation that is needed," she wrote.
"Instead, Trump's delay, denial, distortion of reality and disdain for science has exacted a deadly and preventable human toll."
Reporters pressed Pelosi on this at the briefing and said the American people could be sceptical of her motives given the fact Congress had already moved to impeach Trump.
Asked one reporter: "What do you say to those who see what you're doing now and see this as another attempt to go around the public to get rid of this president through a way that's not an election?"
"It's not about any of us making a judgment about the president's wellbeing," Pelosi said, noting the commission members would be chosen in a bipartisan fashion and playing down her comments about the president's state of mind.
"We have to give some comfort to people that there is a way to do this very respectful, not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behaviour that we don't like, but based on a medical decision, again, with the full involvement of the vice president of the United States, whoever she or he may be at the time," Pelosi said.
Trump returned fire on Thursday after she teased the bill, tweeting, "Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don't call her Crazy for nothing!"
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission
Originally published as 'Incapable': Bid to remove Trump revealed