Congress members who enabled his instigation of a violent coup should be censured, leader say.
In the dark shadow of the unsettling violence at the U.S. Capitol instigated Pres. Donald Trump, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial and National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton are calling on Vice Pres. Mike Pence and Cabinet officers to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office of the President immediately.
“For the first time in U.S. history, a violent mob is attempting to overthrow the democratically-elected federal government, with the encouragement of the man who lost the election,” Morial said. “The nation cannot endure another two weeks of his illegal and unhinged efforts to maintain power. If there is a shred of rationality or patriotism left in the Executive Branch, its officers must act in the best interest of the nation and exercise their constitutional duty to remove him.”
Rev. Sharpton added, “There could be no greater proof than the horrifying chaos we are witnessing that President Trump is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. He has constructed an alternate reality of conspiracy theories and wishful thinking, and has deployed a lawless mob to enforce it for him.”
The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution details transferring power to the Vice President in the absence of the President or should the President becomes unable to do his job. Congress approved the 25th Amendment on July 6, 1965. The states completed ratification by Feb. 10, 1967, and President Lyndon Johnson certified the amendment on Feb. 23, 1967. Since then, it has been used five or six times, depending on how narrowly its use is defined.
The Amendment has four sections. The first deals with the removal, resignation or death of the President. The second deals with a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President. And the third section is used by the President himself to transfer power, typically temporarily, to the Vice-President, usually for a brief time, by declaring he will be unable to perform his duties for a time.
The first use of the 25th Amendment (Section 2) occurred in 1973 when Pres. Richard Nixon nominated Congressman Gerald R. Ford to fill the vacancy left by Vice Pres. Spiro Agnew’s resignation.
In less than a year, the 25th Amendment, this time Section 1, was used again, when Vice Pres. Ford became President after Richard Nixon resigned. The third use followed on Aug. 20, 1974, when Pres. Ford nominated New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller, to fill the office of Vice-President, using Section 2 for the second time.
There has been some question over whether Pres. Ronald Reagan actually invoked Section 3 in July 1985 when he transferred power of the presidency to George H.W. Bush prior to undergo a medical procedure during which he would be under anesthesia. The controversy stems from the fact that he had two letters drafted–one the specifically invoked the 25th Amendment-Section 3 and one that did not. He decided to sign the latter; and since the letter he signed did not specifically mention Section 3 or state that he would unable to discharge his duties, it is not widely accepted as an official use of the 25th Amendment.
Pres. George W. Bush became the first to officially and without question invoke Section 3 on June 29, 2002. Before undergoing a colonoscopy during which he would be under anesthesia, he gave power to Vice Pres. Dick Cheney. On July 21, 2007, Pres. Bush again invoked Section 3 to have another colonoscopy. Again, Cheney was Acting President for about two hours.
Section 4 is the only one that has never been used before, and it is this section, which calls for the Vice-President and a majority of Cabinet- members to declare the President unable or unfit to perform his duties and transfer power to the Vice-President, that Morial and Sharpton, along with a number of Congressional Democrats are calling to be used.
The two civil rights leaders are also urging the formal censure of any member of Congress who has promoted fictitious narratives and baseless conspiracy theories about the election.
“It may well be that President Trump believes the fantasies he has woven about his electoral defeat, but his enablers in Congress surely know better, and they must face consequences for the disaster they have wrought,” Rev. Sharpton said.
“Their reckless and craven exploitation of the faith and credulity of Trump’s supporters has led our nation to the brink of collapse,” Morial said. “Patriotism requires that they reverse course, apologize and begin to make amends to the nation they have victimized.