Hughes Op-Ed: It's time to invoke the 25th Amendment. Now.
Courtesy Photo - Wikimedia Commons
Violent protesters broke into the Capitol building yesterday, interrupting the official Electoral College certification of Joe Biden's election. Biden was officially certified the President-Elect in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, after the Capitol building was secured.
The last time our Capitol was breached was more than 200 years ago, during the War of 1812. In a horrific turn of events yesterday, that changed. Pro-Trump domestic terrorists stormed the shining symbol of American Democracy, the United States Capitol building, and broke into the House and Senate chambers, in a brazen attempt to overturn the results of one of the most secure elections in American history.
Make no mistake. These violent rioters were incited by the words and actions of President Trump, who to this day still disputes the election results. President-Elect Joseph Biden will be sworn in on January 20. This, unfortunately, may be too far away. President Trump could cause irreversible damage to American Democracy by then.
It’s time for Vice President Michael Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare this man unfit for office.
Section Four of the 25th Amendment states, “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.” In short, if the Vice President and members of the Cabinet deem the President to be unfit for office, they can take over.
Vice President Pence currently finds himself in the particular situation that the amendment’s writers designed this clause to remedy. The President has consistently disputed election results, attacked the Vice President for obeying the Constitution by refusing to overturn the election results, and incited violence in his supporters.
Although he told the rioters to disperse from the Capitol in a video on Twitter, he also didn’t seem very distressed, telling them “We love you,” and “You are very special.” Condoning the behavior of a seditious attack isn’t close to presidential, and it certainly isn’t competent either.
The violence at the Capitol yesterday is a direct result of President Trump’s blatant provocation of the crowd. At a rally just before the crowds became violent, President Trump said, “You will never take back our country with weakness.”
The President has become incompetent and reckless with his powers, and the 25th Amendment must be invoked this week. Two weeks is too little, too late if we want to save our Democracy from irreparable damage.