A Normal native who worked in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations says while there have been many attempts to remove presidents from office, few have succeeded.
David Priess, a Normal Community and Illinois Wesleyan University alum, is the author of a new book "How To Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives."
The book chronicles the many and varied efforts to remove a president, many of which have failed.
He says while some critics of the President Donald Trump want to invoke the 25th Amendment, the amendment's language makes it difficult to enforce.
“To make the political decision that they want to get him out of office and temporarily put the vice president in, the 25th Amendment allows the president to come right back to Congress and say, ‘No I’m fine,’ and then Congress has to vote on it,” Priess says.
Priess says in that case, if Congress were to reinstall the president, cabinet members who called for the amendment could see their jobs put in peril.
Priess says the 25th Amendment makes it hard to remove a president for a reason.
“It takes quite an event for the vice president and the majority of the cabinet, to step forward and say, ‘This president, against his will, must be removed from power’ and then to get Congress to vote to agree on that,” Priess says. “The people who wrote the amendment made it hard for a reason.”
The 25th Amendment was brought into the spotlight when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly discussed using the amendment as a mechanism to remove Trump, a claim Rosenstein denies.
A senior Trump administration official also recently published an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times in which they claim to be part of an effort to resist some of Trump’s actions.
Priess acknowledges such an effort can be construed as an attempt to remove a president by stripping them of their authority, but he calls such an attempt “unfortunate.”
“The very norms of faithful service to the president are the ones that these very people who are doing it will want to have if they themselves become president,” Priess says. “It’s part of the system. Once you have every individual in the executive branch making an individual ethical choice that it’s OK to stay in place but to covertly undermine the president, you’ve got a mess on your hands.”
The book goes on sale Tuesday.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.