Can the United States bear even two more weeks of President Trump? That’s a question to ask and answer today, following Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the democratic republic for which it stands, by mobs of rioters.
Never before in our history has a president pressed his supporters to march on the Capitol in order to thwart the process of presidential succession. Trump did just that Wednesday, clinging to the delusion that he would have won the election two months ago if not for widespread cheating. The result was violence that left one woman dead, members of Congress in lockdown and both the building and our sacred constitutional procedures damaged.
The 25th Amendment allows for a president to be stripped of his duties and powers when he is unable to discharge them, and for those duties and powers to be passed to the vice president. It was used twice on a voluntary, temporary basis when President George W. Bush underwent medical procedures requiring general anaesthesia. Never has it been used against a president against his will but it can be, if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet (or some other body created by Congress) agree. On Wednesday the head of a major business group representing 14,000 companies publicly asked Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the amendment and taking over. He will not be the last to do so, even at this late date.
The president’s belief that he won the election, despite the dismissal of all legal claims to that end, and his recklessly telling a crowd to go to the Capitol, despite perfunctory pleas against violence that were too little, too late, arguably demonstrate that he is unable to do his job. And though he only has it for two more weeks, a president can do tremendous damage in that time, as this one did Wednesday.
His mobs fought police, broke windows, invaded the House and Senate chambers as well as the offices of members of Congress and temporarily halted our democratic procedures. When Trump finally put out a video calling on them to stand down, he still stood by his claims about the election.
We may not be able to take 13 more days of this.