A version of the idea was first put forward by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He told the Washington Post editorial board last week he wasn’t “talking about some of the rhetoric that’s flying around” about Trump, but, “If you’re going to have your hands on the nuclear codes, you should probably know what kind of mental state you’re in.”
Pelosi echoed that thought at her press briefing on Thursday. “I can’t wait until he introduces that legislation, to be able to join him as co-sponsor of that,” she said. “I think it’s a very good idea.”
Steadfast opponents of Trump have been citing his mental health even before the election as a reason to remove him from office. The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that a president may be removed by a two-thirds vote of Congress if members of the executive branch determine he is unable to discharge his duties. That particular section of the amendment has never been deployed to depose a president, though when Howard Baker Jr. became President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff, he was warned that he may need to invoke it, given Reagan’s deteriorating condition. Baker determined it was ultimately unnecessary, and that Reagan was fit to serve out his term.
An aide to Chaffetz said the bill would apply to presidential candidates in the future. (Trump has already filed for re-election.)
Removing Trump would make Vice President Mike Pence, who has strong backing on Capitol Hill, president. That’s a scenario some Trump backers have long dreaded, but always assumed it would come through impeachment instead.
Ann Coulter, a strong Trump backer during the campaign, slammed the choice of Pence as a running mate when he was chosen, warning that it heightened the risk he’d be removed for an establishment-friendly president.
“If Trump chooses a vice president who supports cheap labor for the donor class, how long before both parties decide to impeach President Trump?” Coulter wondered. “If the consultants prevail with Trump [and he chooses Pence], our only hope is that the conventional wisdom about vice presidents being irrelevant is correct ― at least for the six months of a Trump presidency before impeachment.”