On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave a press conference about her new congressional 25th Amendment Commission, essentially in order to insist that — pinky-swear, guys — this isn’t really about President Donald Trump *wink wink nod nod*. No, Congress just wants to get ready in case it has to declare a sitting president unfit to discharge the duties of his office, and Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis is merely the excuse to do what Congress should have done decades ago.
“This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of the voters,” Pelosi said, apparently without her fingers crossed. “But he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents.”
“Throughout America’s history, our leaders have created and strengthened guardrails in the Constitution to ensure stability and continuity of government in times of crisis. The 25th Amendment creates a path for preserving stability if a president suffers a crippling physical or mental problem and is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,'” Pelosi explained.
The speaker pointed to Section 4 of the amendment, which “empowers Congress to set up an independent body to confront such a crisis.” She argued that “Congress has a constitutional duty to lay out the process.”
Last week, President Trump announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The president received treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House this week. Democrats have expressed skepticism about the president’s apparent recovery, and it seems Pelosi and her allies are capitalizing on the idea that Trump may be unfit to serve as president right now.
However, Pelosi did invite Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) to speak at the press conference, and Raskin presented a bipartisan, bi-cameral approach to enacting the 25th Amendment with input from the vice president.
It remains to be seen if this is a good-faith effort to set up guardrails, as Pelosi claimed, or a sneaky attempt to set up a process to remove Trump from office. Given Pelosi’s track record on an extremely partisan and flimsy impeachment and her disgusting argument that the Senate could not acquit Trump, the latter does not seem out of the question.
Even in the press conference, it seemed Pelosi used her mask more as a prop than as protection from the coronavirus. Already distanced from other people, she spoke with a mask over her mouth but not over her nose, thus undoing whatever positive good the mask over her mouth was supposed to do.
President Trump used the press conference to draw attention to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s age and frailty.
“Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris,” the president tweeted. “The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!”
Crazy Nancy Pelosi is looking at the 25th Amendment in order to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
If Biden does win next month, it seems likely this congressional commission may move to replace him with Kamala Harris.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 9, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.