House Democrats’ presidential capacity bill comes with a catch: It wouldn’t apply to Trump

'There are those who believe that taking certain medications can impair judgement. I don’t know,' speaker says of president’s medical condition and mental state

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 09 October 2020 16:58
Trump repeats claim election will be 'one of greatest, most fraudulent elections ever'

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is concerned Donald Trump’s coronavirus medications are altering his judgement, but a new bill from House Democrats establishing a commission to determine if a president is too impaired to serve would not apply to him.

The California Democrat and Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a constitutional scholar, rolled out the legislation Friday but made clear, if is somehow passed the Republican-run Senate, it would only apply to the 45th president if he wins next month’s election.

"This is not about President Trump,” Ms Pelosi told reporters. “He will face the judgment of the voters."

The two Democrats said Mr Trump’s powerful and experimental cocktail of an aggressive antibody drug and a powerful steroid might be causing him to act even more brash than usual.

“There are those who believe that taking certain medications can impair judgement,” she said.

But when it comes to the president’s post-hospitalisation screeds of all-capital-letters tweets and his often-angry comments during Fox News call-in interviews, and three White House-produced videos declaring God gave him the virus so he could find what is an unproven “cure,” she offered this assessment: “I don’t know.”

The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution sets up a process under which a sitting president could be removed from power if a large slice of the federal government’s top elected and Senate-confirmed officials determine he or she has become unable to execute the duties of the office.

Asked Friday if she believes Mr Trump, via his recent behavior, has not yet hit a threshold to trigger that process, the speaker said: “It’s not about any of us making a judgement about the president’s well being.”

Instead, the new legislation would create a commission of experts to determine whether the winner of November’s election and all presidents elected in the future has become too impaired to do their job. That panel would have the power to request a sitting commander in chief undergo a medical examination carried out by physicians who would be members.

But a president would have the ability to decline an exam, which the full commission would take into account when determining if he or she could not conduct their duties.

On Twitter Mr Trump claimed the change was aimed at replacing Joe Biden with Kamala Harris in the event of a Democrat win in November. He added: “The Dems want that to happen fast because Sleepy Joe is out of it!!!"

Democrats reacted with shock after Mr Trump’s military physician, Commander Sean Conley, on Thursday night cleared him for public activities on Saturday even though outside medical experts say he could still be contagious. Their outrage only grew a short time later when the president appeared on his second Fox News program of the day and said he wants to hold a campaign rally in swing state Florida on Saturday night

But despite their concerns, House Democrats say voters should decide Mr Trump’s political fate in just a few weeks.

“If he wins the election, it’ll apply to him. If not, it’ll apply to the next president of the United States,” Ms Pelosi said. … We have to give comfort to people that there is a way to do this.”

Despite Democrats’ claims, the White House certainly believes the bill is about Mr Trump: Messaging for the 3 November election and an attempt to fire up the party’s base in what looks to be a turnout election.

‘That’s an absurd proposition from Nancy Pelosi. The only one who needs to be looking at the 25th Amendment is Nancy Pelosi herself. She had that bizarre interview on ABC a few weeks ago where in the middle of it, after she suggested using impeachment to make sure that Amy Coney Barrett doesn’t get on the court, impeachment of the President of the United States for carrying out his constitutional duty, in the middle of the interview she blurts out, ’Good morning. Good Sunday morning,'" press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News on Friday as he worked from home after also testing positive for the virus.

“So, maybe she’s projecting here because the 25th Amendment, no reason for it to be considered with regard to the resident of the United States,” she added, "but many for Nancy Pelosi herself."


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