Conservative columnist Ross Douthat on Tuesday argued President Trump should be removed under the 25th Amendment — rather than impeachment.
In his New York Times column, Douthat says that the 25th Amendment, which permits the Cabinet to remove the commander in chief if a majority tells Congress he cannot perform his presidential duties, is a “more appropriate” method for “this strange situation than impeachment.”
“But ultimately I do not believe that our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office that he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase,” Douthat writes.
“I do not believe he is really capable of the behind-the-scenes conspiring that the darker Russia theories envision. And it is hard to betray an oath of office whose obligations you evince no sign of really understanding or respecting.”
Douthat says Trump lacks the basic qualities necessary for a person to serve as president and notes that it is the president’s own aides and confidantes who are leaking their grievances to the press.
“They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor,” Douthat says of Trump’s staff.
Douthat has previously argued that public servants have “a moral responsibility” to serve Trump due to their fear of how he would conduct himself as president.
Democratic lawmakers have ramped up mentions of impeachment following Tuesday’s latest White House firestorm. The New York Times reported that Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to end the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
But Republican lawmakers, the columnist now argues, have been aware all along that Trump was unfit for the presidency.
“Right now, though, I will be boring in my sincerity: I respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along,” Douthat says.
Another conservative columnist on Wednesday had a slightly different opinion, arguing that Douthat’s 25th amendment tact would cause a “psychic shock” for America.
Charles Cooke wrote in National Review Online that while he agrees with much of Douthat’s descriptions of Trump’s conduct as president, “a legalized coup” would cause “discord the likes of which we have not seen in a while.”
“Nevertheless, at this point in American history — a point at which large numbers of voters in both parties believe that the system is “rigged” – for the president to be undone by a small group of establishment Republicans and replaced with a career politician would be disastrous for the culture,” Cooke writes.