With all the criticism that the President of the United States is generating, it is worth remembering that the Constitution of the United States really does contemplate different ways to remove him from office.
The new U.S president, Donald Trump, is being criticized both by the media and politicians around the world. These criticisms have amassed to such an extent that it’s now being predicted that the 45th President of the United States will not be able to complete his mandate. For all this, it should be remembered that the American laws contemplate different ways through which the President of the country can be forced to leave office.
One of them is included in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This clause allows the United States Head of State to be dismissed without turning to the formal procedure known as impeachment.
“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.” states section four of the 25th Amendment.
However, even if members decide to resort to this measure, it must be taken into account “…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; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
The conclusion is that Donald Trump’s impeachment is possible on the grounds that he is unable to perform the duties of President, and he is “temperamentally unfit to be President,” as stated by former President Barack Obama in 2016. However, this throwing-out-of-office measure will fail if the business tycoon succeeds in proving otherwise during the next 21 days.
Having explained the technicalities of a theoretical resignation from a President who has already assumed office, it becomes necessary to understand what is going on in the real world. More than 500,000 people have signed a petition to launch a political trial against the U.S. president. What arguments do they use? Could this initiative succeed?
Let’s move on to assess how do political trials work in the United States and see whether there have been similar precedents in the past. As for the mechanics of political trials, any member of the House of Representatives can initiate the impeachment process, but his proposal will have to pass through a legal committee currently headed by Republican Robert William ‘Bob’ Goodlatte, who a few years ago did not support the call for impeachment against Barack Obama. If approved by the committee, the proposal must obtain the approval of the House of Representatives by a simple majority of votes. If this happens, the procedure will go to the Senate, where it would need a two-thirds majority. Currently, the majority in both chambers of Congress belongs to Republicans.
There certainly have been such cases in the history of the U.S. The process of dismissal against officials of different levels was initiated by Congress on more than 60 occasions, but only eight people – all of them federal judges – were finally dismissed by the Senate. On the other hand, only two leaders of the United States have faced the impeachment procedure; Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, and both were acquitted. The same process initiated against Richard Nixon in February 1974, which ended with his resignation.
Now arises the real question. Are there any grounds for impeachment against Trump? The authors of the impeachment campaign point to an alleged conflict of interest between the Presidency and his business empire, since, they argue, Trump has maintained contact with the business after assuming office.
Specifically, as a beneficiary of a trust fund, Trump will continue to receive income from the business, including from foreign sources, which may be interpreted as a violation of the Constitution in the article prohibiting the President from “accepting gifts, emoluments or titles” from the rulers and foreign states without the consent of Congress.
Another possible reason for his removal could be the irregularities in Trump’s execution of his notoriously controversial immigration freeze. A New York court decided to suspend the deportations related to this order, but according to the activists of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), federal customs agents have ignored the court’s decision by the direct order of the White House. If so, it would be an abuse of authority on the part of the President.
There are several laws in place that could be used in an attempt to remove a president from office. However, as precedent has demonstrated, it would not necessarily lead to his dismissal.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]