08.04.2017 12:11 PM

There’s a 25th amendment to the US Constitution for a reason

From the New Republic, a stirring and disturbing statement:

Both in content and in context, the official transcripts of Donald Trump’s January phone calls with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto—which were leaked to The Washington Post and published Thursday—depict a president whose very presence in high office is destabilizing, and whose continued service constitutes a dangerous crisis.

We learn, in intimate and excruciating detail, the ways the president’s mental limitations make basic requirements of the job (such as understanding what allied leaders are talking about) impossible for him. We see not for the first time that Trump will lie about anything, even when he knows, or should know, that foreign governments can produce evidence of his deceit.

…When a president can no longer serve faithfully, there are means available to Congress and the cabinet, through the impeachment power and section four of the 25th Amendment, to remove him.

Pushing Trump out of office would be a politically destabilizing event in its own right, perhaps more acutely so than handing the reins of government over to a cadre of generals and hoping for the best. But the processes are legitimate, and were created for precisely the kind of situation that confronts us today. It is often said that impeachment is a political process, but it is also a normative one. Or at least, it should be the norm that elected officials step in to protect the public from a president who is lawless and befuddled—even when the president happens to be from the same party.

When the Pentagon politely – but firmly – refused to follow Trump’s Twitter edict about transgender soldiers, I was torn in my reaction, as Brian Beutler clearly is, in his important essay.  On the one hand, I was happy that they stood by LGBT troops, who are just as capable of firing a gun as the next guy or gal. (My beloved godfather was gay, and he was a longtime and proud member of our Armed Forces, which he served with distinction.)

On the other hand, it was astonishing – and potentially disturbing – that the U.S. military leadership were declining to acquiesce to civilian control of the military, (clearly) because the civilian in question is a deranged criminal named Donald Trump.

The good news, in other words, is that we may not all soon be nuclear ash – as when Trump inevitably tries to set off a conflagration to distract from Mueller’s coming indictments.

The bad news is that the most powerful nation on Earth is now being quietly run by the military, and not many people have noticed.


  1. Gyor says:

    It wouldn’t go so far as saying the military is running the show so much as acting as a check on Trumps power.

  2. P. Brenn says:

    crazed or not ..quite a revelation…disobeying an order from the Commander In Chief…

    now if Kelly starts coming to work in a tank to whitehouse ..watch out

  3. rww says:

    This has nothing to do with civilian control of the military. The President cannot rule by tweet. If the military were presented with a constitutionally valid Executive Order within the President’s powers the response would likely have been different/

    • Warren says:

      Thanks for the curt comment. So why hasn’t Trump done so, then?

      • Gord says:

        Because it was the latest set of jingling car keys meant to distract everyone from the chaos in his administration, not anything remotely resembling a policy that had any sort of rational thought put into it.

      • Phil says:

        I’m with “rww” – Trump sent out a tweet. I’ll hazard a guess that’s insufficient to force a change the policy. Probably need a bit of paper work. As to “why hasn’t Trump done so” ….. who knows, maybe he got distracted.

      • David Ray says:

        because Trump is scared shitless of Mueller and the Grand Jury as Charlie Pierce wrote today….

        It appears that Mueller’s after it all—the alleged financial shenanigans that pre-date last November’s election, the slow-dancing with Russian oligarchs, the infusions of cash from the banks of the Volga that kept the Trump Organization in business, the overpayment by Russians for condos owned by the Trump Organization—everything and Mueller is not afraid and he is not going away.

        There is no possible way that this White House is D’d up for the Category Five shitstorm that’s coming over the next six months to a year. Right now, there’s no indication that anyone there has any grasp at all about how anything in Washington works, let alone how to handle the magnitude of what’s rolling up the driveway of the West Wing.

  4. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    This reminds me of the controversy over whether Ronnie was mentally incapable at some point in his presidency.


  5. Kevin says:

    I think he may be deciding he doesn’t like leakers after all.

  6. Bill Templeman says:

    Before we start cheering the Pentagon as being the guardians and protectors of world peace and national sanity, let us remember that senior voices in the Pentagon have at times been forcefully over ruled by the executive branch in the past. Didn’t a group of very senior generals want to nuke North Vietnam? I agree with Warren. This is a good news/bad news story, and the bad is badder than the good is good.

    • Dan Calda says:

      Let’s compare something from 50 years ago.

      Really helpful in today’s world.


      • Bill Templeman says:

        That’ fine, Dan. So history teaches us nothing. Today’s world is totally unique and not related to anything that happened more than 10 years ago. Groovy. btw, you are far from alone that belief. But never mind. So what is your assessment of Warren’s last sentence above? (The bad news is that the most powerful nation on Earth is now being quietly run by the military, and not many people have noticed.) Good thing? Bad thing? Not a thing worth stewing about at all?

        Wonder what the Vietnamese would say….

        • Dan Calda says:

          There was no social media back in the Vietnam war.
          That is the greatest check on abuse of power.
          As to your question…a tweet is not a lawful order.
          Thus the point is moot.

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