As Rachel noted on last night’s show, the new Vanity Fair piece from Gabe Sherman on Donald Trump’s White House paints a rather unsettling picture of behind-the-scenes tumult in the West Wing. The president for example, reportedly vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!”
The same piece described Chief of Staff John Kelly as “miserable,” and West Wing officials describing Trump has “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”
But the part of the article that really stood out for me was this:
Even before [Sen. Bob Corker’s] remarks, some West Wing advisers were worried that Trump’s behavior could cause the Cabinet to take extraordinary Constitutional measures to remove him from office. Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment – the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president.
When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?”
Back in mid-November 2016, about a week after Election Day, The Atlantic’s David Frum joked, “Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Article 4. We’re all going to be talking a lot more about it in the months ahead.”
In hindsight, I think David was onto something.
If you’re unfamiliar with the 25th Amendment and its relevance to Trump’s troubled presidency, I had a piece on the relevant constitutional language back in February. I should emphasize, however, that the 25th Amendment almost certainly wasn’t designed for circumstances like these, and those concerned about the president’s apparent misdeeds and abuses should probably focus their attention on impeachment, not the 25th.
That said, the fact that Trump reportedly doesn’t know what the amendment is or why it might matter suggests it’s time for a refresher course for the president that swore to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.