Saturday, September 8, 2018


The anonymous senior member of the White House staff along with the many staffers who spoke under conditions of deep background to Bob Woodward for his book have been widely criticized for undermining the presidency. Nikki Haley said, “When I challenge the President, I do it directly. My anonymous colleague should have done it too.”

The President, after all, was elected by the people. It is his constitutional duty to perform the duties of his office. When unelected staffers go out of their way to stymie the orders of the President, something is seriously wrong. If White House employees believe that what the President is doing is seriously wrong, even dangerous for the country, there are other actions they can take. They can resign and tell their story. Unfortunately, many people who have worked in the White House in the last year and a half have resigned. The only impact of their resignations was that they were often replaced with someone who was less competent.

The crisis in the White House is not that many members of his staff are trying to undermine him. It is that the President himself is intellectually, morally, and temperamentally unfit for office. No one is coming to the President’s defense. No one in the midst of things in Washington or aware of them is saying, “The President is doing a great job.” It is well known that he is not capable of performing his duties.

Some are saying that those White House employees who are leaking to the press are doing so to protect their reputation. After everything falls down, as it will, these people will be able to say, “I stayed in that awful job to minimize the damage that the President would do.” That may be true, but working around the President to limit the harm he inflicts on the country, may not be the ideal way to resolve the predicament in Washington. But in one sense, it is the only thing they can do at this point. Resigning in protest does nothing to solve the problem.

The Constitution offers two means to remove the President from office: impeachment and Article 25. Articles of Impeachment can be approved by a majority of the members of the House. If the Democrats win a majority in the House, it seems likely that they will vote for impeachment. The leaks from White House insiders seem likely to increase votes for Democrats. Once drawn up, the Articles of Impeachment go to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to confirm the impeachment. It seems unlikely that the Democrats will even have a simple majority in the Senate. Although some Republican members of the Senate have been critical of the President, the GOP leadership is so frightened of the Republican base, it seems highly improbable that the President will be removed from office by impeachment.

Invoking Article 25 is not initiated by Congress, but by senior members of the executive branch, the very people who have been whispering to the press. If the Vice President and a majority of the principle officers of executive departments decide that the President is not able to perform his duties, they can inform the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. After that both houses of Congress have to vote to remove the President. The Vice President would then become President. Such an action would be incendiary. It has never been done before.

For either impeachment or Article 25 to work, Republican members of Congress would have to support the action. In order to get their support, they would have to be persuaded that this President is a danger not only to the country and to Democracy, but to the Republican Party itself, as in the long run it will be.

There are some (and I am among them) who think that Michael Pence would be a terrible President. But at least he would not be disastrous one.

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