Trump outraged by Democrats' plan to assess president's fitness to serve
Democrats provoked an angry tirade from Donald Trump on Friday by proposing a congressional commission to judge whether U.S. presidents are in a position to perform their duties or should be removed from office.
The move came a week after Trump was flown to a military hospital for coronavirus treatment and 25 days before an election. The president returned to the White House on Monday but raised concerns about unpredictable behavior.
Related: Trump is unlikely to travel to the rally while Pelosi says drugs have him "in an altered state" - live
“This is not about President Trump. It will stand before the voters' verdict, but it shows that we have to put a process in place for future presidents, ”House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference at which she also punched British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The timing could not be overlooked, however, as Trump continued to give sprawling television interviews, tweeted false and contradicting statements, and potentially endangered his own White House staff by defying public health guidelines.
In response, the president tweeted, “Mad Nancy Pelosi is considering the 25th Amendment to replace Joe Biden with Kamala Harris. The Dems want this to happen quickly because Sleepy Joe is no longer there !!! "
The 25th amendment to the US Constitution provides that the vice president will assume the duties of president if he dies, resigns, or is determined to be unable to serve in office.
Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, who introduced the legislation on Friday, said: “The 25th amendment is about stability of the presidency and continuity of office.
"Now it was never necessary, but the authors of the 25th Amendment felt it was imperative to have a safety valve option in the nuclear age and as they often said we have 535 members of Congress, but we only have one president."
He added, “In the age of Covid-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and now devastated White House staff, the wisdom of the 25th Amendment is clear. What if a president - a president - ends up in a coma or on a ventilator and has not made arrangements for the temporary transfer of power? This situation requires action. "
This body is known as the Commission on the Capability of the President to discharge the powers and functions of the Office. Raskin, a constitutional law professor, said it was bipartisan, comprised of 17 members, including medical staff, and could only act in concert with the vice president.
When asked about the timing of the bill, Raskin said, "This situation has focused everyone on the 25th amendment".
Pelosi reiterated her insistence that this does not apply to Trump: "Again, this is not about a judgment someone has about someone's behavior. It is not about one of us deciding whether to bring the 25th amendment forward That is absolutely not the point. It's not up to us. "
Invoking the 25th amendment would require the support of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump's cabinet. There was no indication that this was imminent.
A reporter asked Pelosi if Johnson was an example of someone whose ability to govern was restricted by the coronavirus. She replied, “I have no idea. I don't have a President Trump either.
“I just made it clear that he was on medication. Each of us under medication of this severity is in an altered condition. He was bragging about the medication he was taking. And again, there are articles by medical professionals who say that, as I said, this could have an impact on judgment. "
She then made a surprise attack on Britain's efforts to develop a vaccine, describing the US Food and Drug Administration's "very strict" rules for clinical trials and approvals. "I worry that the UK system for this type of judgment is not comparable to ours in the US. If Boris Johnson decides to approve a drug and that President accepts it, that is the concern I have about a similarity between the two. "
The 25th amendment initiative was not without political risks for the Democrats as Trump's allies tried to portray it as a pre-election takeover. Josh Holmes, former chief of staff and campaign manager for Senate Majority Leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, tweeted, “Every time I think our goose is cooked, Nancy Pelosi picks up the microphone and I tell myself we still have a chance. ”
Trump was flown to a military hospital on October 2 after testing positive for Covid-19. He stayed there for three nights and was given a menu of treatments before his doctors said he was doing well enough to be discharged. He returned to the White House and immediately removed his face mask, which aroused criticism.
Since then, his behavior has raised concerns, even by the tumultuous standards of the Trump presidency. Suddenly, he broke off negotiations with Congress on a stimulus package, surprised his Republican allies, but then carried out an equally harrowing U-turn. And boasted in another Fox phone interview that he was "a perfect physical specimen" and "extremely young."
Both Trump's doctors and White House officials still refuse to say when the president received his most recent negative test and raise questions about who he may have infected.
Trump had the idea that he could travel to a rally in Florida on Saturday, but the government said Friday morning that it was unlikely.
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