Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer had strong advice for United States citizens and politicians on Wednesday: Don’t even think about invoking the 25th Amendment.
In a video published by The Washington Post, Krauthammer broke down what the 25th Amendment does — and should not do — and called politicians threatening to invoke the amendment “dangerous.”
The 25th Amendment is a constitutional provision that allows the government to move forward with proceedings in replacing a president due to certain stipulations: removal, resignation, incapacitation or death.
The 25th Amendment reads:
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Rank incompetence is not qualification for inability to perform,” Krauthammer began his video, addressing those tossing around the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment. “We shouldn’t even think about invoking the 25th Amendment — which is procedure for removing the president for inability to perform.”
“That is meant for strokes,” Krauthammer added. “That is meant for heart attacks, that is meant for florid psychosis, that is meant for extreme emergencies that we should hope we should never have to face.”
Since its ratification, the 25th Amendment has only come under serious consideration once — during the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Reagan’s own doctor asserted to The Los Angeles Times in 1989 that the 25th Amendment should have been invoked during Reagan’s temporary incapacitation.
After Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981, Dr. Daniel Ruge said that power should have been temporarily transferred to then-Vice President George Bush.
Krauthammer noted that any “dangerous” plans only undermine the United States’ constitutional system.
“The minute to start to invoke even the thought of that for president’s behavior that you don’t like, or you find inexplicable, or too selfish, then you are going into very dangerous waters where you have completely destabilized our constitutional system.”
“With one exception of one resignation, we have had full terms — the absence, of course, of death — for presidents since 1789. That is pretty unusual,” Krauthammer noted. “The French are on their fifth republic; we are on our first. There is a reason. We have a Constitution that creates stability through conflict, which is almost impossible, and has succeeded for 240 years.”
Krauthammer concluded his video with a warning. “Don’t tamper with it,” he said, referencing the U.S. Constitution. “The 25th Amendment is for very extreme stuff, and we are nowhere near that and should not even be talking about it. … It’s dangerous if you hear politicians discuss it — some of them are, and they shouldn’t be.”
Krauthammer’s video comes just 12 hours after he revealed to Fox News host Bret Baier that he’s stunned at the lack of Republican support for Trump.
Responding to The New York Times reports alleging that Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation, Krauthammer told Baier that it was “stunning” that so few Republicans were coming to the president’s defense, despite recent controversies.
“I think what’s really stunning is that nobody, — not even from the White House — has come out under their own name in defense of the president here,” Krauthammer said. “You got an anonymous statement, we don’t see any Republicans on camera.”
Noting that it was “totally understandable,” Krauthammer continued and detailed the controversies that may have turned off Republicans over the last ten days.
“[Republicans] just watched over the last ten days,” Krauthammer noted. “People who went out on a limb over the Comey firing, and said it was a result of the memo of the deputy attorney general, had the limb sawed off by Donald Trump himself without a flinch and were left humiliated and contradicted.”
“And then when you look at what happened with the Russian ambassador.” he continued. “Last night people were saying — the people high up that were in the room — by name said that this never happened. And then in the morning it looks as if the tweets that Trump issued acknowledged it happened and he had every right to do it.”
Krauthammer concluded, “So who is going to step out now and defend the president in these denials which could very well be true, when you’ve seen what happened to Republicans who stepped out on denials in two other cases, and were left like on an ice flow off of Norway?”