US Democrats on Thursday proposed a commission to investigate whether Donald Trump is mentally fit for office – and look at the constitutional options for his removal if necessary.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told reporters that on Friday she and other Democrats would introduce a measure relating to the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows for the vice president to take over should it be determined that the president “is unable” to fulfil his duties.
Pelosi’s office said Friday’s bill would “help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the executive branch of government”.
The move comes at a moment of crisis in the White House, with Trump being treated for a COVID-19 infection that sent him to the hospital for three nights.
The 74-year-old leader has fired off a stream of erratic tweets this week and raised eyebrows with a stream-of-consciousness interview early Thursday on Fox Business in which he said he beat the coronavirus because “I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young”.
Pelosi warned Trump is suffering from a “disassociation from reality [that] would be funny if it weren’t so deadly”.
Pelosi’s effort would renew debate about what steps might be taken in the event the president becomes disabled to such a degree he cannot fulfil his responsibilities.
Scathing criticism from Trump camp
But she received scathing criticism from Trump and other Republicans.
“Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!” Trump boomed on Twitter.
House Republican Mark Green used particularly blunt language.
“I wouldn’t put it past @SpeakerPelosi to stage a coup,” the first-term congressman tweeted.
“She has already weaponised impeachment, what’s to keep her from weaponizing the 25th amendment?”
Pelosi’s action is unlikely to bring about a transition of power in the White House, as Vice President Mike Pence, a Trump loyalist, would be required to sign off on such a declaration.
Pelosi on Thursday directly questioned Trump’s health status and his claim to be rapidly recovering from COVID-19.
“I think that the public needs to know the health condition of the president,” she said.
“Mr President: When was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive?” she asked.
“Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact?”