Explained: The Two Ways By Which Trump Can Be Superseded From Office
A declaration under the 25th Amendment, or an impeachment followed by a dismissal is what can remove Trump from office
The two constitutionally outlined ways to remove a US President from office is a declaration under the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, or an impeachment followed by dismissal in the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively.
With the US Capitol witnessing pandemonium following supporters of President Donald Trump storming the US Capitol, several media outlets including CNN and CBS News have relied on sources to report that incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's cabinet are considering invoking the 25th Amendment to seize the presidency. This would make Pence Acting President till the noon of January 20 - a period of 13 days - when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the next US President.
The incidents of the US Capitol come in concurrence with a joint session of the US Congress being presided over by Pence. The session convened to fulfil its constitutional duty to certify the results of the electoral college electing formally electing Biden president, which it did just a while ago, reaffirming the 306 votes he won and the 232 won by Trump.
Also Read:Trump Supporters Storm US Capitol: All You Need To Know
Trump largely believes the outcome of the November 3 election to be rigged, which is why he called on a massive rally attracting thousands in Washington DC and which in turn led to yesterday's events. While Trump is yet to concede defeat, his Deputy Chief-of-Staff tweeted a statement from him saying that despite his disagreement with the outcome of the election, Trump will ensure a peaceful transition of power on January 20.
But here's how he, or any president can be forced out of office early.
1. 25th Amendment
The 25th Amendment lays down the process how power transfers between the president and vice-president can take place in a variety of situations. It states that a vice-president becomes the president in case of the latter's death, removal or resignation.
Further, he/she becomes the acting president in case the president communicates to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate (the deputy presiding officer of the Senate, and its presiding officer in case the vice-president is absent) of an inability to execute his duties and powers of office. The president can re-obtain his/her power
But the vice president, and a majority of the federal cabinet can force the president out of power under this amendment if they collectively think that the president is unfit to be in office. The president can object to this, and resume in office. For any of this to take place, they need to formally notify the Speaker and President pro tem.
However, the vice-president and a majority of the cabinet may once again notify the Speaker and President pro tem of the president's inability to discharge the duties of his or her office within four days of the president's objection. In that case, the US Congress steps in.
Both Houses of Congress must, within 21 days, vote with the two-thirds majority that the president is incapable of discharging the duties of office. Should they do so, the vice-president continues as acting president, or the president resumes office.
Also Read: According To US Constitution, Trump's Term As President Will Have To End
This route is the quickest way for a vice-president - in this case Pence - to assume office of the president. But this would last less than two weeks, and would need the backing of a majority of Trump's existing cabinet.
Read this amendment here.
2. Impeachment and dismissal
The formal impeachment of the president - or any other civic official - takes place in House of Representatives of the US Congress, over which it has absolute authority.
The article of impeachment - or formal charges - are needed to be adopted by the House. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 2019, after it adopted the articles of impeachment against him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, becoming the third US president in history to become so. But, this does not immediately translate to his removal from office.
The case then goes to the Senate, who constitutionally has the exclusive power to try the official - in this case the president.
A set of representatives from the House of Representatives, called 'managers', act as the prosecution in the Senate, and are traditionally members that support the impeachment. If the president is being impeached, the trial is presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States.
The Senators then hear witnesses and testimony, and acknowledge evidence as part of the trial. For them to convict the president - and remove him from office - a two-third vote is required. No president has been removed from office in this manner.
This is a time-consuming route, and President Trump has already been impeached once, his conviction in the Senate failed.
Read this process here.
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