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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/12/21

Unequal Justice: Use Both the 25th Amendment and Impeachment to Hold Trump Accountable -

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While there are not many days left in his presidency, Donald Trump remains an unparalleled menace to democracy. He must be removed from power and brought to justice as soon as possible. Each day we delay, we run the risk of catastrophe.

With news that Articles of Impeachment will be introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives, a vibrant discussion abounds on whether this is the appropriate method of censure and removal. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader (for now) Mitch McConnell circulated a memo to colleagues outlining the process an impeachment might follow.

There is also talk of removing Trump from office by means of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. But while the debate has been healthy and spirited, it has for the most part been poorly framed because it presents a false "either or" dichotomy.

Donald Trump remains an unparalleled menace to democracy. He must be removed from power and brought to justice as soon as possible. Each day we delay, we run the risk of catastrophe.

As a matter of strategy, tactics and law, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and impeachment can and should be pursued simultaneously. The remedies they offer are complementary, not in conflict.

The real question is not whether Congress should invoke either the amendment or pursue impeachment. The question is whether Congress has the will to take action quickly and decisively.

Ratified in 1967 in the aftermath of uncertainty following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment offers the quickest route to accountability.

The amendment sets forth a process and a detailed time-line for declaring a sitting President incapable of performing his duties, and transferring executive authority to the Vice President. To initiate the transfer, the Vice President and a majority of the members of the Cabinet need only sign a declaration asserting that the President is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Thereafter, "the Vice President shall immediately assume" those powers.

The amendment also permits the President to resume office by signing a counter-declaration alleging his capacity to serve. But within four days of receiving the counter-declaration, the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can keep the President out of power by signing another declaration of their own. After that, the issue of the President's fitness is committed to the Congress, which must make a final decision by a two-thirds majority vote within twenty-one days.

Vice President Mike Pence reportedly hasn't closed the door on invoking the amendment, but clearly, he must be pushed both by Democrats and the public at large to change his mind before Trump unleashes another MAGA mob to wreak havoc in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere, prior to the Inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.

Should Pence do so-and remember that he had his "come to Jesus moment" when, on the morning of January 7, he certified Biden's Electoral College victory-Trump would be unable to restore himself to power within the amendment's time-line.

But whether or not Pence can be made to heed the call of history, Democrats should launch a second, "high speed" impeachment proceeding against Trump. A new impeachment resolution has already been drafted for this purpose, charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection" for sparking the failed violent coup attempt staged at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Even if the process cannot be completed before Inauguration Day, a second impeachment is a necessity.

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Bill Blum is a retired judge and a lawyer in Los Angeles. He is a lecturer at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. He writes regularly on law and politics and is the author of three widely acclaimed legal (more...)

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