There is less than two weeks left for US President Donald Trump in the White House, but Democrats on the House of Representatives human rights committee are demanding that he be stripped of his presidential powers after his supporters stormed Congress.
They wrote to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to act to strip Trump of his presidential powers because he had acted in disobedience and “tried to undermine our democracy.”
Discussions focus on the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows the transfer of power from the president to the vice president, either temporarily or permanently.
How could that happen?
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment permits the vice president to become a “acting president” when the latter is unable to perform his duties, for example in the event of incapacity for sick reasons.
Article 4 of the 25th Amendment is now being discussed, which allows the vice president and a government majority to declare that President Trump is unable to perform his presidential duties.
This requires signing and directing a letter to the Presidents of the House and Senate saying that the president is unfit to perform his duties. At this point, Vice President Mike Pence will automatically take over the duties.
The president is given the opportunity to respond in writing, and if the measure is rejected, Congress must take a decision, and the decision to remove the president in the House and Senate requires a two-thirds majority.
The vice president will carry out the duties of the president until the issue is settled.
The possibility of implementing the twenty-fifth amendment was possible after the president was infected with the Coronavirus in October of last year, amid concerns that he would not be able to carry out his presidential responsibilities.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the measure based on the 25th Amendment and formed a committee that examines the president’s health eligibility to carry out his duties.
Has this been applied previously?
The Twenty-fifth Amendment was passed in 1967, four years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and was designed to deal with a situation in which the president would be unable to perform his duties.
For this reason, a number of presidents have used the 25th Amendment, Article Three, which allows for a temporary transfer of power to the vice president.
President George HW Bush did so in 2002 and 2007 when he underwent a routine airport check-up that required anesthesia. And President Reagan did so in 1985 when he underwent surgery to remove a tumor.
So far, however, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment has not activated the final removal of a president.
Are there other ways to strip President Trump of his powers?
There were calls for Trump to be held in parliament in preparation for his impeachment, as Representative Ilhan Omar announced that she was preparing the legal procedures for that purpose, and her democratic colleagues expressed their support.
Trump was held accountable to Congress in December 2019 for his unlawful request for help from Ukraine to improve his electoral fortunes.
He faced two counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but the Senate, which has a Republican majority, acquitted him.
Trump is the third American president in history to face congressional accountability as a prelude to impeachment.
The US Constitution provides that the president can be relieved of his duties in the event that an indictment of treason, bribery, or other sensitive charges is brought against him and he is convicted.
This process is political and not criminal, and it takes place in two stages: it is submitted to the House of Representatives, and if approved, it is submitted to the Senate for the purpose of removing the President.
But a two-thirds majority is needed in this case in order to relieve the president of his duties, and it would be a precedent in US history if it occurred.
If Trump is relieved of his duties, Vice President Mike Pence will move to the Oval Office to replace him.
The question is whether there will be enough time for the process to be completed before the end of his term on January 20, when Joe Biden will be inaugurated.