Doubts about Donald Trump‘s capacity to carry out his duties raised by Nancy Pelosi today, planning to create a new body to manage powers of 25th Amendment.
Today Nancy Pelosi unveiled a plan to create a Commission on Presidential Capacity that would exist to evaluate the health of the president in times of crisis and assess whether a transition of power to the vice president would be suitable.
The Commission would invoke article 4 of the 25th Amendment, the part of the constitution that allows Congress to pass the power of the president along to the vice president if POTUS “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and does not make moves to transfer power independently.
NEW: Speaker Pelosi introduces legislation that would create a bipartisan commission to determine a sitting president’s ability to carry out the duties of the office under the 25th Amendment. https://t.co/Lzyh4c5MNT
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 9, 2020
In the conference at the Capitol on Friday, Pelosi introduced plans for the bill with its author by her side, constitutional law scholar and Congressman Jamie Raskin, who said the coronavirus crisis has further shown the need for a succession plan in the event that a president is incapacitated.
“In times of chaos, we must hold fast to our Constitution,” Raskin said. “The 25th Amendment is all about the stability of the presidency and the continuity of the office.”
Why has Pelosi made the move to invoke the 25th Amendment?
In the conference, Pelosi insisted that the move was about holding all future presidents to account, not only Donald Trump, who since contracting Covid-19 has touted his miraculous recovery just days after being hospitalised.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT! pic.twitter.com/uhLIcknAjT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
“This is not about President Trump… The 25th Amendment creates a path preserving stability if a President suffers a crippling physical or mental problem.” Pelosi told the media.
However the House Speaker confirmed her doubts about Trump’s current mental state “Clearly he is under medication. Any of us who is under medication of that seriousness is in an altered state,” Pelosi said.
What are the next steps to create the Commission?
Congress is currently not in a legislative session, so a commission cannot realistically be created for the rest of the year. Raskin defended introducing the legislation now.
He said that the pandemic has highlighted the need to set up an “institution” that can evaluate the health of the president in extreme circumstances.
“We’ve got to think of this in Constitutional terms. This is why we need to set up an institution composed in a bipartisan fashion..that will be able to make judgments five months from now, five years from now, 50 years from now, whenever it might be.”
The Commission will have 16 members appointed by both Republican and Democratic leaders. Eight members will be medical personnel and the other eight will be high-ranking former members of the executive branch like past presidents, vice presidents and attorneys general.
On Thursday, Pelosi had already teased the unveiling of the Commission, saying “The public needs to know the health condition of the president,” Pelosi said. She demanded transparency on the last time Trump tested negative for the virus before announcing he was infected last week, as the exact date is still shrouded in secrecy by his team.
Trump later responded: “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”
Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing! https://t.co/7vE0Jvq0dM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2020
The president was admitted to hospital last Friday and immediately began a course of treatment, before returning to the White House Monday and to the Oval Office on Wednesday.
When asked Friday if she thought Trump has met the threshold for the 25th Amendment to be invoked, “That’s not for us to decide,” Pelosi said.