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Home / Tips and Tricks / 25th Amendment: Can Pence Still Enlist the Law to Remove Trump from Office? What we know

25th Amendment: Can Pence Still Enlist the Law to Remove Trump from Office? What we know

Donald Trump

President Trump has been in office for less than two weeks. A growing number of legislators think that is too long.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly “not ruled out” an appeal to the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, following the attack on the US Capitol building by hundreds of Trump supporters that resulted in five deaths and the destruction of federal properties. On January 7, Business Insider reported that Pence would not be pushing for the 25th Amendment.

Immediately after the riot, lawmakers, cabinet members and a US trade group began calling on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. House Democrats have also confirmed they will start impeachment Monday. Nearly 240 lawmakers in Washington – 38 Democratic senators and 199 representatives from both parties – have backed the proposal, with days to go President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

“There is growing momentum around the invocation of the 25th amendment, which could allow the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to remove the president over his incitement to insurgency and the danger he still poses,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday.

While Pence has not made a public statement about invoking the 25th Amendment, CNN reported on Saturday that Pence wants to leave the option open in case Trump becomes unstable, citing a source close to the vice president. The vice president is also concerned about Trump’s behavior if the 25th amendment or impeachment takes place, potentially leading to actions that could endanger the nation, the CNN report said.

Pence and Trump have not spoken since Wednesday morning before the attacks, sources told CNN and The New York Times.

What does the 25th amendment do and how does it differ from impeachment? What could happen if the 25th amendment is not invoked? How has Trump been affected by the 25th Amendment before? Below we explain everything, including where the situation is now.

What is the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution?


A gang besieged the Capitol on Wednesday.

Samuel Corum / Stringer / Getty Images

The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution covers the ability of the president to perform his or her office and what happens in the event that the commander-in-chief is no longer able to do his or her job. It gives the vice president – in this case Pence – the power to temporarily assume power of the presidency, allowing for a smooth transfer of power in an emergency.

The change also allows the president to appoint a vice president if there is a vacancy.

read more: FBI posts on Twitter and Facebook for help in identifying people involved in Capitol Hill violence

The portion of the 25th Amendment now under discussion generally relates to Paragraph 4, requiring the Vice President and a majority of the President’s Office or a group designated by Congress to write to the Chair of the President. Senate, pro tempore and speaker of the House, may declare that the meeting president is unable to perform the office’s duties. This immediately makes the vice president the acting president.

The president can resist this attempt by the vice president and Congress, but officially declares himself fit for office. From there, the vice president and those backing the impeachment have four days to disagree, or the incumbent president resumes the presidency. If they disagree, Congress can settle the matter with a vote.

President Donald Trump speaks during a 60-minute interview recorded and published by the White House.

In the closing days of Trump’s presidency, there has been talk of attempts to hold him accountable for Wednesday’s riot.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland / CNET

What could happen if the 25th amendment is not invoked?

The 25th amendment requires the vice president and cabinet members to support and initiate the call. With cabinet members stepping down and Pence rejecting demands to begin the 25th amendment process, House Democrats are preparing to start the often lengthy trial to impeach Trump for the second time in his four-year term. Here are all the details we knowincluding how likely impeachment is to be voted and what the outcome could mean for Trump even after Biden is sworn in.

Why lawmakers want to remove Trump ahead of Biden’s inauguration

When chaos erupted on Capitol Hill, lawmakers, business leaders and others immediately began demanding that the president be removed from office. Earlier in the day, Trump had told supporters at a nearby rally that “we will never give up, we will never give in.” Trump’s tweets, some of which removed or blocked, the crowd continued to spur.

“We’re going down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we’re going to the Capitol,” Trump said at the meeting. Then supporters marched to the Capitol, where they later broke through barricades and entered the building. Hours passed as voters and lawmakers urged Trump to call on the crowd to resign.

Leading up to the impeachment talks, Trump administration officials said that Pence, not Trump, had approved an order to deploy the Washington, DC National Guard. Traditionally, this power has been reserved for the president.


A gang besieged the Capitol on Wednesday.

Samuel Corum / Stringer / Getty Images

Trump eventually released a short, recorded statement telling the rioters to go home, calling them “special people,” and adding “We love you,” as he continued spreading false claims of voter fraud, as he did. has been doing for months.

When the night fell social media has cracked down on Trump, flagging and deleting multiple messages, as well as placing temporary locks on the President’s accounts.

On Thursday morning Trump was committed to an “orderly” transition in effect, and on Thursday evenings, condemned the riots he has a hand in stirring up, through a video posted on Twitter. On Friday, Twitter has permanently banned Trump’s account “because of the risk of further incitement to violence.”

What does it take to implement the 25th amendment?

Invoking the 25th Amendment is considered extraordinary (see below for when it was used) and the use of Section 4 of the amendment is unprecedented: a variety of conditions must come together for the Vice President to perform the duties of the President on this way.

For Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to take effect, the vice president would have to get the backing of a majority of department heads and then alert the congressional leaders. Alternatively, Congress can designate another body in place of the cabinet. After the vice president notifies congressional leaders, the president can request the return of his presidential powers.

In the event that the 25th Amendment is invoked, it would mean that Pence would take on Trump’s presidential responsibilities. Trump could then declare to the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate that he has “no inability” to rule. At that point, it would be up to Congress to decide on the matter within 21 days, which would pass the January 20 date Biden takes office, meaning Pence would retain presidential powers until Biden takes over.


President Trump delivered a speech on Wednesday that many believe set up the crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

Congress is not in session and should be recalled should it come to that. Every sitting senator should agree unanimously.

This isn’t the first time Congress has considered using the 25th Amendment against Trump

The 25th Amendment has previously been discussed during Trump’s presidency. On October 1, Trump announced on Twitter that he and first lady Melania had Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

After his diagnosis of the coronavirus and hospitalization, Pelosi has enacted legislation that would allow Congress to enact the 25th Amendment should the president become incapacitated for work, though she maintained at the time that the legislation was not specifically targeting Trump.

When he was released from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump, while still under a physician’s supervision and treatment with the steroid dexamethasone, Abruptly negotiations on stimulus checks stopped, only to reinstate them hours later and offer them a stimulus package that eventually fizzled out. At the time, Congressional Democrats were discussing an appeal for the 25th Amendment but did not put the issue to the vote.


When the 25th Amendment goes into effect, Vice President Mike Pence will take over as commander in chief.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Has the 25th Amendment ever been used before?

Section 4, the portion referred to all week, was never enacted and only came close once during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Congress passed the 25th Amendment in 1965. It was ratified and certified as an amendment the following year by President Lyndon Johnson.

The first use of the other sections of the 25th Amendment was in 1973 when President Richard Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to replace Vice President Spiro Agnew, who had stepped down. The amendment was used again when Nixon stepped down and Ford assumed the presidency and Nelson Rockefeller elected to serve for the vice presidency.

Most recently, President George W. Bush twice invoked the 25th Amendment to temporarily transfer the powers of the presidency to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush underwent a colonoscopy under anesthesia, first in 2002 and then again in 2007. In 1985, his father, then-Vice President George HW Bush, received the 25th amendment authority from President Ronald Reagan.

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