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If impeachment talk is going to be bandied about, there are a few things you should bear in mind

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump boarding Marine One upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday.

Apparently, talk of impeachment is going to be in the air for the foreseeable future. Perhaps I don’t have to tell you why.

(As an aside and in case you hadn’t heard about it yet, the Washington Post last night broke a story about a conversation among Republican House leaders in which Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, told a group of House Republicans last June that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was paying Trump. When others in the group asked if he was serious or joking, McCarthy replied, “I swear to God.” Speaker Paul Ryan swore everyone to secrecy. When the Post confronted Ryan about the story, he denied that the conversation had occurred. When told that the Post had a recording of it, Ryan changed to a claim that McCarthy’s remark had been a joke. I should add that the Post presented no information corroborating the idea that Trump was on Putin’s payroll, only that McCarthy said he believed this was so.)

At the moment, I don’t personally expect us to go very far down the road to impeachment of President Trump. If Trump is not going to serve his full four-year term, I think it is much more likely to result from his resignation than from actual impeachment. I don’t think he is enjoying his gig as much as he expected to. His ego needs are depthless. I don’t know of any chapter of his life story when he stuck with anything that became hard or unpleasant.

(Another aside: Perhaps you have heard about his astonishing display of self-pity yesterday, telling the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that no president in history has had to endure the kind of mistreatment he has, especially by the media.)

His bag of tricks isn't working

I don’t think of Trump as particularly smart in the way most of us think of smarts. But I suspect he’s smart enough to notice soon that the bag of tricks that got him this far – lie constantly, admit nothing and certainly never any error, change the topic, blame Hillary, blame Democrats, fire someone, change the topic again, go on the attack, assign derogatory nicknames to all he surveys, fire anyone who disagrees with him, then fire anyone who can’t make his problems go away, tweet, tweet, tweet, rally the base by repeating to them promises that he won’t keep, ignore approval ratings, brag about how smart he is while demonstrating the opposite, wash, rinse, repeat, etc., etc. – isn’t working.

Trump has also had good luck in the past with forcing people he has treated unfairly to take him to court, then sic his lawyers on them until they realize they cannot come out ahead, and they settle.

But, in general, that strategy won’t work against the level of his upcoming adversaries, high-ranking government officials who aren’t in it for the money and who don’t pay their legal fees out of pocket. And he will soon discover that the tactics mentioned in the fat paragraph above don’t work in his new gig. I suspect (but obviously it’s just my personal hunch) he will slink off stage rather than endure a legal process where his threats don’t work and his lies are exposed and he is unable to pull off his usual trick of changing the subject.

But we don’t know that. And, if impeachment talk is going to be bandied about, there are a few things you should bear in mind. So, for all of those reasons plus the fact that I am both a history nerd and a Constitution nerd, here’s a bit of a primer on the constitutional process of impeachment:

The first of two steps

As a technical matter, “impeachment” refers only to the first step in a two-step process for removing a president (or other federal official) from office. The U.S. House of Representatives has the constitutional authority to “impeach” a president (or a vice president or other high officials of the federal government, including Cabinet members and Supreme Court justices), by a majority vote, on grounds of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

So a House vote to impeach a president doesn’t remove the person from office. It only sets up a trial in the Senate, where the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to convict the official. Conviction of an impeachable offense results in removal from office. (I feel the need to say again that I am not predicting we will head down the impeachment path any time soon, but we will surely be discussing it.)

In U.S. history, two presidents – Andrew Johnson right after the Civil War and Bill Clinton for crimes of the libido that turned into abuses of power/coverup — have been impeached. None has been convicted in the Senate and removed, although the removal vote on Johnson failed by a single vote.

Clinton’s case was tried in the Senate on two charges. The vote on conviction on one of the charges was 50-50, and on the other it was 55-45, with the majority voting to acquit. (And it takes a two-thirds vote the other way to convict.) The votes were overwhelmingly along party lines, with all Democrats voting to acquit on both charges and some minor variance among Republicans. Johnson and Clinton both served out their terms.

Nixon resigned before full House vote

If you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned Richard Nixon, it’s because he was neither impeached nor convicted. After the House Judiciary Committee voted for impeachment on three of the five charges under consideration, Nixon resigned before the vote on those charges could occur in the full House. So neither the final act of the House impeachment process, nor the Senate trial process, ever got under way. Nixon was the only president ever to resign or to fail to serve out his term for any reason other than death in office. Will Trump be the second?

The current partisan makeup on the U.S. House is 238 Republicans, 193 Democrats and four vacancies. The makeup of the current Senate is 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Dems.

So, under the current makeup of the House, assuming all Democrats voted to impeach the current incumbent and the vacancies remained vacant, at least 23 Republicans would have to vote to impeach to send the matter to the Senate. In the Senate, assuming that all the Democrats and independents voted to remove Trump, it would still require 19 of the 52 Republicans to vote for removal to get to the two-thirds vote necessary to convict and remove from office.

At the moment, I do not take the possibility of that many Republicans voting to impeach or convict Trump very seriously. The best argument for its likelihood, on the basis of partisan analysis, is to note that Trump is not a regular Republican. Vice President Mike Pence is much more of a normal Republican. It’s possible to imagine that many Republican members of Congress would enjoy working with President Pence more than they are enjoying working with President Trump.

But, again leaving aside the substance of the charges against Trump that might arise to the “impeachable” level, Republicans in either house who voted to impeach or convict him would have to worry about the political impact in their states or districts such a vote would have on Trump’s admirers. On the final hand, such damning evidence could emerge that make it hard for Republicans to vote to acquit Trump.

Four grounds for impeachment

The Constitution lists four grounds for impeachment: “treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors.” It’s confusing to modern ears, because it goes from two specific offenses that we think we understand (treason and bribery), a catch phrase for other serious offenses (“high crimes”) and then the big curve, “misdemeanors,” which modern Americans use to refer to the least serious offenses.

The framers of the Constitution went through several drafts of the language then fell back on “high crimes and misdemeanors” which was language the English Parliament had used the since 1386 to describe the grounds on which officials of the British crown could be removed. (I’m relying here on this article by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, which alludes to “offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament, granting warrants without cause, and bribery.”)

The unifying theme was that they were all allegations that “the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.”

In one of the famous “Federalist Papers,” (Federalist No. 65), which were public arguments in favor of ratifying the Constitution, future Broadway star Alexander Hamilton defined impeachable offenses as “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

As evolved, the meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” amounts pretty much to any misdeeds that a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate agree is an impeachable offense. It’s pretty clear that a serious act of misconduct can be an impeachable offense, even if it is not literally a crime in the statute books. For example, in recent days you have read that President Trump could not have broken the law by divulging classified information to the Russians, because the president is empowered to declassify any information on the spot. (I’ve also seen that one disputed on the grounds that Trump didn’t use his presidential power to “de-classify” the information, just blurted it out to impress his Russian visitors.)

Definition up to members of Congress

But the key here, and maybe it’s the main point of this whole piece, is that it’s quite possible that an impeachable high crime and/or misdemeanor does not refer to a literal list of crimes on the statute books. “High crimes and misdemeanors” may very well be pretty much anything that a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate decides is an impeachable offense.

Many Democrats would support starting the impeachment process soon. But they would need a very significant number of Republicans for it to matter. Over the last few days, a growing number of Republicans have talked about taking some of the allegations against Trump seriously, maybe a growing openness to a serious nonpartisan or bipartisan investigation. And I don’t claim to know what will happen next or in any time frame. The key is that actual impeachment and removal would require a very large portion of Republicans to support it, and I have no clear idea of whether that could come about.

Lastly, Phillip Carter, writing for Slate, has begun drafting some of the articles of impeachment that he believes might useful.

Correction: In the previous version of this piece, the math on the current partisan makeup in the Senate and the number of Republican votes necessary to reach two-thirds were wrong. I regret the error. EB

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Comments (39)

What about the 24th Amendment?

Douthat advocates and interesting alternative, using the 24th Amendment's mechanism to remove an "unfit" president instead. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/opinion/25th-amendment-trump.html?hpw...

I agree that Trump is likely to resign, in fact I think that resignation could come at any moment now. This is NOT the life Trump wants, and he's going to wake up some morning and realize he's only in five months of a four year stint, and this isn't going to get any easier.

I think the real constitutional crises we face is a Republican Congress that refuses to discharge its duties and hold Trump accountable. However, the longer Trump stays in office, the more damage he does to the Republican Party an it's agenda, so there will be a turning point, and that may come sooner rather than later, and if it does, some option for getting rid of Trump will become feasible. For instance the sudden Republican interest Comey and his memo's could be a sign that they're looking for an exit strategy.

One comment about the Republican inner circle discussion of Trumps possible status on Putin's payroll: Sure, it could be characterized as a joke, but Ryan's denial is hinky, and even if it was a joke, it tells us that Trump's possible ties to the Russians were well known and the subject of conversation even among top Republcans, Republicans who have been dragging their feet regarding the investigation. Even if this was a joke at the time, it's still a damning indictment of Republican integrity.

In the Cards

Resignation seems the second most likely outcome. What I see as most likely is that he will refuse to resign, but storm out of Washington in a huff. He will pretend to govern from Mar-a-Lago, but the face of the government will be Mike Pence, or members of the cabinet.

One would think this would call for a 25th Amendment solution. The reason I don't see that happening under any foreseeable circumstance (short of him suffering a stroke or heart attack) is that the cabinet is stuffed with enough loyalists to make a majority vote to remove him a slim chance. Just to take one example, can yo imagine Ben Carson voting to remove Trump because he has virtually abdicated his job?

I also think it unlikely that this Congress would impeach under any circumstances. This Congress is not going to go down in history for its integrity, and its adherence to constitutional principles. Any doubts about that should have been dispelled by the Majority Leader's "joke" that no one said until it was pointed out that there was a recording of it.

integrity has nothin to do with it.

If Trump is impeached integrity will have nothing to do with it.
It will happen if Republicans in Congress come to see Trump as an albatross with an anchor around its neck around -their- necks.
If he is a threat to their re-elections and he refuses to do a Nixon and quit before he's too far behind, then they have no choice but to impeach him, and if he does not resign then, to try him.

My Point Exactly

If Republicans were governing with any semblance of integrity or regard for the nation, they would have stopped enabling Trump weeks ago. As it is, as long as he can keep the carefully constructed Republican base all riled up, they will leave him alone.

They're playing him, in a way. It's a particularly cynical riff on checks and balances.

So sad!

Sorry to use a Trumpism from multiple tweets he's made. But he is a sad figure now.

What we are seeing here may be the most tragic downfalls, or self-wrought implosions, of an American President in our history. A tragic figure, let's remember, causes his or her own downfall, by taking actions that betray him or her. They do it out of hubris--the overwhelming sureness that they're too smart to have a bad end. What they do, and the result, can't be blamed on somebody else (Trump's trying this is part of the terrible sadness of his current posture). Hamlet, Lear, Oedipus, Willy Loman, all were responsible for their fates. The catharsis for the audience is in the tragic figure's profound recognition that he played the main role in his own fall.

That's the part we won't get, probably, with un-self-aware Donald Trump. Who is not, after all, admirable enough to be a truly tragic figure. He is simply pitiable. A small, pitiful man. And that pitying stage has already begun, led by Trump himself with his "they're all out to get me!" refrain.

Impeachment? No way the Republicans would permit it. But let's not forget: although the White House scrubbed clean the transcript of the meeting last week between Trump and the Russians--only the Russian press has a record of what was said; Trump had barred the American press from the room--White House aides scrambled to alert the CIA and NSA of what Trump had revealed to the Russians. Anyone else in the United States who did what Trump did, by revealing highly-classified secret intelligence to our foreign enemy, would be considered guilty of treason.

He didn't consult anyone about "de-classifying" classifed intelligence secrets. He just did it, oin the sppot and without thinking. Because he won, don't you see?

Constance, it is indeed, so sad!

I just hope our great country doesn't suffer irreparable damages in the next 4 to 8 years. Another Presidential election sounds so far away, doesn't it?

And Eric: "Kudos" to all of the history and Constitution nerds out there, including yourself. Congrats on the journalist award recently received too.

Does Trump have a disabling ailment?

The two links below summarize some preliminary evidence that Trump has, at least, early, ore-Akzheinee.

http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/video-suggests-trump-suffering-a...

http://neurocritic.blogspot.com/2017/02/using-discourse-analysis-to-asse...

Alzheimers

Are you misspelling it?
I can't find the term anyplace.
If you are referring to Alzheimer's (or other forms of dementia),
as far as I know no qualified professional Psychologist or Psychiatrist has directly examined Trump.
At the most, some of his behavior is consistent with patterns show by people diagnosed with some form of early or per-dementia.
This is not evidence of any form for the presence of dementia.
At most, it suggests questions yet to be answered.
And one does not have to be mentally ill to be doing a poor job. That be itself would be Constitutional grounds for removing him from the Presidency.

Early Origami?

Even if you are a medical professional in the area of dementia, you should not be suggesting diagnoses for a person that you have not examined.

More of the same.

I have been reading these articles for over a year now. Each article begins with “Now Trump has really, really gone too far,” before predicting his inevitable end. Talk of impeachment is just another drop in the bucket of Trump’s lifeblood. While those who oppose him claim the latest controversy will be his undoing, Trump continues to not only live among the controversy, but thrive amid it.

The longer impeachment is in the air, the better for Trump, that is, of course, unless he is actually impeached, which seems far-fetched considering the lack of actual facts among the preponderance of insinuations.

Ridiculous

You are all living in some other form of reality. All the Democrats are showing the world is that they are sore losers and that they put their ideology before the betterment of the USA. Wasting people's time and bringing a special counsel in for this on the basis of ethical clarity is nothing but a joke. Especially considering what you let fly with not only your former president but with the candidate you put forth to try take his place (which you failed at btw). All of a sudden you demand morale clarity? Laughable. In case you need reminding, Trump won the election and would win it again today. The American people told you what they wanted: Health Care overhaul, Tax restructuring & Safety. You are not delivering and worse, are being obstructionists. Voters see what you are all about and you will continue to lose more and more seats in the Senate & House and Governorships Nationwide. #KeepUpYourCrazyDems #MAGA

Are you surprised?

Links on Alzheimers is the best yet. Studies are showing mainstream media being 95% negative. Trump may not be to everyone's liking, but geez. Liberals, and most on this forum, used to be all over the GOP as being obstructionists during the Obama years. Now, they fully support it. And now Hilary is creating a PAC to support all sorts of obstructionism. There is zero evidence of Russian influence. Comey stated under oath almost 2 weeks ago that Trump did not ask him to back off of an investigation. Trump on the Russian payroll?? Really??

The longer impeachment is being bandied about, the worse it is for the Dems. The GOP did themselves no favors by impeaching Clinton. If the Dems keep on obstructing, they will continue to their track record of infuriating the swing voters who just want to earn a living, be secure in their beings, and left alone. It is clear that the Dems still don't get it by the constant insults of the electorate which only fans their base, which may be the loudest but is a very small part of the electorate. The loss of over 1000 state and local seats to the GOP will just continue on, even if Trump goes away.

Where did you ge this tidbit?:

"Comey stated under oath almost 2 weeks ago that Trump did not ask him to back off of an investigation."
What you're confusing here is Trump's claim that James Comey told HIM, three times, that Trump was not personally under investigation. There is absolute;y no proof of that, or of much that Trump puts in his tweets. Comey said nothing to any committee that I know of, about Trump. Everybody in Washington is champing at the bit to have Comey testify before them--because he's a man who can be believed (no one believes Trump any more).

This is an example of how Trump supporters don't seem to get details straight.

And further: the "obstructionism" of the Republicans during the Obama presidency was carried out by Senator McConnell and Paul Ryan, who controlled majorities in the Senate and the House. They set the agenda, they prevented items from being brought up at all (the Supreme Court nomination, for example, along with dozens of other judicial positions so Obama couldn't appoint anyone). Their object was to prevent Barack Obama from enacting any legislation, and they did that.

Democrats have no way of "obstructing" Donald Trump or Congress in their activities: Democrats are in the minority. They don't control anything in Washington. Republicans control all parts of our federal government today: Congress (both chambers), White House,and Supreme Court.

The dysfunction in Washington is being created solely by President Donald Trump, who is flaming out on this, that, and the other issue, daily. He's not "governing" at all! Maybe that's a good thing.

What Comey said

This claim that Comey testified that no one asked him to back off has been going around the right wing blogs for a bit. But it's not really true. It's based on the following testimony starting with a question from Senator Hirono:

Hirono: So, if the attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?

Comey: In theory, yes.

Hirono: Has it happened?

Comey: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something without appropriate purpose ... Often times they give us opinions that we don't see a case there, and so you ought to stop investing resources in it, but I'm talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason. That would be a very big deal. It's not happened in my experience.

But if you bother to read the question, it was specifically about the Justice Department halting an investigation. Nothing about Trump. I guess we'll know soon enough (when Comey testifies again) whether the reports of Trump's statements are true and how Comey interpreted it.

Trump lost the election

by 3 million votes.
That was the voice of the American people.

Still experiencing symptoms ...

... of Trump Derangement Syndrome?

Trump did not lose the election. His current address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Steve we get it

But don't confuse the issue, The majority of Americans did not vote for Trump, quirks of the constitution are quirks. You want to shove it down our throat, fine, hopefully it makes you feel better that the minority won the white house, and possibly with the collusion of the Russians, anything to win, we get it, but the numbers still speak for themselves, despite the tweets..

Comments

Comments like the one to which I responded indicate not getting it. How long will you continue with the Russians without any evidence? Seems too long already.

We all know how presidential elections are decided. Reasonable folks don't argue that hits are more important than runs after their team loses a baseball game.

What are you talking about?

Russians, you continue? It seems the Department of Justice, the FBI, a republican congress, and republican senate believe there is evidence. Flynn got fired for lying about his connections. That doesn't support a hoax, fake news or a conspiracy that for some reason folks like me are creating this out of whole cloth. Your baseball analogy doesn't work, as noted, Clinton had more total runs than Trump by millions, but Trump had more runs in certain states, but yet he won. Looks like you struck out. There are those of us that believe in majority rule and respect for the minority, however in this case we believe there is minority rule with no respect for the majority!

I expected I would

I expected I would get to explain the analogy - changing the rules after the completion of the game. When was the popular vote raised during the campaign? As, I recall -Never. It is epic sore-loserism to continue with it now.

An investigation is just that; it is not a finding of wrongdoing. Trump is the first President to have cabinet picks go away in disgrace since Obama.

Sore Losers?

You know we read this almost every day from some right leaning news post. Couple points: Fox News during the 90's made its billions by twisting news to suit a far right wing agenda, Sore loser, after 12 years of Republican WH control or professional propaganda guy?: The American people did not want Trump (he lost the popular vote by over 3 Mil), So the majority of voters (got screwed) because of quirks in the constitution,and they should just accept the screwing, 2nd time in less than 20 years? Last I heard things like that cause revolutions. Mitch McConnell and the republicans, fought against Obama from day 1, for what reason? He was a lefty and a mixed blood African American, evidently that is OK, Mitch and gang were not sore losers. The candidate put forward? The right wing machine (especially Fox and the far right news sources has been slandering, propagandizing and mud-slinging the Clinton's for going on 3 decades, and what do they have to show for it so far, a couple minor missteps and a sexual impropriety. But of course that is all above board. Now we see the right wing propaganda machines getting a small taste of their own medicine, and by the way, no one has to make it up or twist it, seems to be quite fact based, and they cry foul! Sorry no crocodile tears here. Losing seats, exactly what most folks expect of the right, its about "party" not "cause", Its about damning the other-side but no reflection on what you really stand for. Look in the mirror: Do you stand for rich-richer, poor-poorer, pro-pollution, anti-education, military madness, despot control of the country? Show us where "We the people" is in this administration.

So many talking points, so little time

I will take military madness for 100. Over the course of their administration, who ordered more drone strikes, Bush or Obama (according to the New York Times)?

"Obama’s embrace and vast expansion of drone strikes against militants and terrorists will be an enduring foreign policy legacy. Whereas President George W. Bush authorized approximately 50 drone strikes that killed 296 terrorists and 195 civilians in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, Obama has authorized 506 strikes that have killed 3,040 terrorists and 391 civilians."

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/12/reflecting-on-obamas-pr...

Gee:

What does drone strikes have to do with impeachment?
Suspect there were more cell phone calls during Obama's term as well, somne folks call it technological advancement.

A direct response

A direct response to you adding "military madness" to the conversation. What does that have to do with impeachment?

Technology is a wonderful thing; it seems that you think President Obama made ten times the drone strikes of President Bush because he could.

OK Steve I'll bite

Military madness is one of the worst ways to spend tax dollars (they don't multiply) its called the multiplier effect. ie to grow the economy Military madness is is just that madness, the dollars don't multiply, they only get blown up. Econ 101!

Evidently you didn't/don't understand the point: Specifically: Example (no I don't have the numbers) but I do know technology" 1 drone strike in 2006 would cost~ $1.2M, a drone strike in 2014~ $120,000, (guesses) A 10 X reduction in cost. A cell phone cost to Asia ~ $2.50 a minute in 2001, 2016 Free with Skype.
Get it? Please prove me wrong, I love to learn.

Check your math and learn

Active U.S. military employment is about 1.4 million; military employment provides valuable experience and jobs training.

Technology. I spent the 1980s developing infrared (night) vision sights for the U.S. Army. In 2010, this technology, commercialized, was critical in the rescue of 33 men trapped 1/2 mile underground for 69 days in a collapsed mine in Chile. Many military technologies have been commercialized, including GPS. Skype uses the internet, which started as DARPANET - the "D" stands for defense. Without if no Skype; get it?

Gee!

Thanks for the learning!
But: 69-73 Vietnam Era Vet USN (I get the "D") Anti-submarine warfare:
Got it: $54 Bil worth of? I call show your cards!
We are already 10X vs Rest of world, evidently you aren't comfortable with the patriots playing kindergarten kids as an advantage?. More $ spent on defense is not a waste, but $ spent on poor folks is?

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/us-military-spending-vs-world/

Wasn't it a republican that warned us about Military madness over 50 years ago? Ike.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

Now do you get it?

Economics of scale

Your "A 10 X reduction in cost" drone argument demonstrates the efficiency of scale in military spending, which doesn't seem to support your argument against military spending.

Though Amazon won't soon be making drone deliveries, there are many commercial applications for drones, yet another area in which military spending pays dividends in the non-military world.

From the MIT Technology Review

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602237/now-you-can-finally-use-your-d...

"The use of drones to inspect and monitor infrastructure like cell phone towers, wind turbines, and tall bridges is likely to become much more popular now. Insurance companies will use unmanned aircraft to inspect rooftops."

I am not sure of the relevance of the words and actions of party politicians 50 years ago. It was your party that conducted a 60 day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Re: Does Trump have....

I meant to write "at least, early, Alzheimers." Too fast iPad keyboard tapping, sorry.

Again

the question is not whether he may have some form of early dementia.
The question is whether he is meeting the Constitutional requirements of his positions.
If he is not, than he can be replaced through either the application of the 24th Amendment (see below) or by the impeachment process.
=========================

AMENDMENT XXV
Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.
--------------------------------
Section 4.
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, transmits 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 departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits 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; other- wise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Why?

If the President were legitimately diagnosed today with Alzheimer's, it would not be considered early onset. Keep trying.

Duly Noted

It's so much better to have a President diagnosed with Alzheimer's than it is to have one with early onset Alzheimer's. Thank you for the reassurance.

It is speaks to the coherence of the message

Diagnosed?

First a mystery condition diagnosed remotely, then a correction placed in the wrong location, yet still incorrect. Hardly lucid.

Probably not impeachment

Eric is right that the most likely scenario is President Trump's resignation. Any attempt to remove President Trump under the 24th Amendment would be seen by many as a coup d'etat. As some of the comments here show, some think even this is "alternative reality."

But consider: It's no longer questioned that a President can be sued or even charged with criminal offenses while in office. In other words, the President has no "immunity" from any criminal or civil legal action. Or from being convicted for a crime while in office. The Special Counsel is not appointed to bring "moral clarity"; he's appointed to see if the law's been broken and if so, to bring what he learns before a Grand Jury. In theory, Grand Jury's are independent of the any branch of government but, as we all know, Grand Jury's indict in 99 out of 100 cases when that's requested by the prosecutor. A Grand Jury would not be stopped from indicting the President or a regular jury stopped from convicting him, through the spectacle of either could have disastrous consequences for the nation, political and otherwise.

Under those circumstances, would impeachment be as unthinkable as it seems now?

I'd just as soon not hear any more "impeachment" talk. The truth is, we, the public, still just don't have enough facts. The President has brought this all on by his erratic and seemingly shifty and evasive behavior. That still is "playing well in Peoria" for his supporters but for people who care about open and honest government, it's just too much to take.

25th Amendment

24th Amendment is poll taxes

25th Amendment is removal of the president

Thank you...

I stand corrected and appreciate the correction. 25th, not 24th.

Other things to bear in

Other things to bear in mind....

The Trump administration will try to become extremely secretive, and if that is possible, even more extensive watch-doggery will be necessary...

The Republican government cannot rest on the possibility of remaining through the half-term---every pet Republican/Trump project will receive an accelerated schedule and passing bills in the night without a hearing will be the standard operating principle. As a part of that, look for destruction of the legislative filibuster...

If the Trump presidency is not blown apart by the midterms (or perhaps even if) there will be unrest in the GOP and challenges from other Trump-aligned candidates against the more staid Republican members....

Trump's hard-core supporters will not abandon him until they have actual damages from the Trump/GOP agenda and those damages would have to be tied directly back to Trump. There is the real possibility of social unrest resulting from their impression of the persecution of Donald Trump...

I don't think we actually need a medical diagnosis

If a President makes a series of grossly incompetent decisions that lead to disastrous outcomes that's probably sufficient. I don't think anyone needs to prove that his gross incompetence is the product of a medical condition. Trump may or may not have a psychiatric illness, but most grossly incompetent people don't have psychiatric illnesses. The Dunning-Kruger effect isn't a diagnosis, it's just an observation.

Grasping at imaginary straws

"Disastrous outcomes"

If said outcomes are sufficient, then by all means bring them forward. Those most often invoking Dunning-Kruger observations are those themselves exhibiting it.