Falling short of the votes they needed to impeach President Donald Trump over “Russian collusion,” some liberals are pouncing on the current coronavirus crisis to lay the legal groundwork for forcibly removing him from office.
Among them are a D.C. university professor and Barack Obama’s top Justice Department lawyer.
Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., penned an opinion column for Market Watch calling on Congress to demand Trump resign, or impeach him.
“It’s painfully obvious that no normal person — let alone any typical president — would respond in the way President Donald Trump has,” writes Edelson, “At each stage, he has lied, he has created confusion, he has made reckless predictions, and he has, once and for all, demonstrated his manifest unfitness to serve.”
“It is clear even to casual observers that Trump is in over his head and is interested mainly in public messaging that he thinks will mitigate personal political damage to him in an election year,” Edelson writes.
He suggests public leaders step in before Americans vote and formally demand Trump resign from office.
“We may not be able to fix the damage that Trump has already caused, but at least we can stop him from doing any more harm. Public figures ought to be calling on the president to resign from office, to get out of the way and let competent people step in,” Edelson writes.
Even if they were to demand his resignation, Edelson admits Trump would never do so.
“Readers who are generally receptive to this conclusion may not unreasonably ask: What’s the point? Trump will never voluntarily leave office. That is a fair observation, and I do not expect him to do so,” Edelson writes.
That, according to Edelson, leaves Congress with only one solution – impeaching Trump over his coronavirus statements.
“In a functioning system, elected officials from both major political parties would call for the president’s resignation, and he would be forced to leave office or face impeachment and removal through the constitutional process,” writes Edelson.
Joining Edelson’s call for impeachment or removal is Neal Katyal, who as Acting Solicitor General under President Barack Obama was the federal government’s top courtroom lawyer.
In response to a Trump tweet comparing coronavirus deaths with deaths from influenza, Katyal replied with “OMG,” followed by “Twenty Fifth Amendment.”
Twenty Fifth Amendment.
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 9, 2020
Under the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S Constitution, the president can be forcibly removed from office if the vice president or a majority of the cabinet declare him physically or mentally incapable of carrying out the duties of the office and two-thirds of Congress vote to affirm that determination.
In the previous session of Congress, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, introduced a bill that would create a panel of doctors, picked by congressional leaders, who would give Trump a mental health examination and recommend whether he be declared mentally incompetent and removed from office.