There Are Two Ways Donald Trump Could Be Removed From Office As President

by John Haltiwanger
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President Donald Trump is in very hot water at the moment.

Between firing FBI Direct James Comey under dubious circumstances and reportedly sharing highly classified info with Russia, among other issues, Trump just can't seem to avoid controversy.

Consequently, many are discussing how Trump could be removed from office.

Representative Al Green called for Trump's impeachment on the House floor on Wednesday morning.

There are two ways a president can be removed from office without their consent: impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.

A president can also resign or step down, but given that's fairly simple, it doesn't need much of an explanation.

Impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment are decidedly more complicated.

If you're wondering how it all works, here's what would have to happen.


“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” -- U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4

Congress has the power to put certain public officials, like the president, on trial and remove them from office, as outlined in the US Constitution.

Impeachment is a formal charge of misconduct.

For a president to be impeached, someone in the US House of Representatives must present a resolution calling for impeachment or an inquiry into allegations of misconduct.

The House Committee on the Judiciary investigates any charges of misconduct.

If it's ultimately determined there are grounds for impeachment, the House votes on whether to move forward with the process.

A simple majority is required for this to occur.

If this happens, the next step is for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial to decide whether or not to convict the president of the charges.

During this part of the process, members of the House, typically from the House Committee on the Judiciary, act as prosecutors.

Two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of conviction if he or she is to be removed from office.

Only two presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted in the Senate.

It's a rare, and very serious, political process.

But, as noted above, impeachment is not the only way to remove a president.

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution:

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was ratified in 1967, states,

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Simply put, if the vice president and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries determine the president cannot "discharge the powers and duties" of his or her office, they can remove them.

For this to happen, they'd have to write a letter to the president pro tempore of the Senate (currently Senator Orrin Hatch) and the speaker of the House of Representatives (currently Rep. Paul Ryan), and inform them they do not think Trump can fulfill his duties.

Trump would have 21 days to convince Congress he's fit to be president if this occurred.

A two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress would have to vote in favor of keeping the vice president in charge to formally remove the president.

This section of the US Constitution exists in case a president falls ill or is injured and can't do his or her job.

But, in theory, it could be invoked if a president was putting the country at risk through irresponsible and bizarre behavior.

With that said, this has never happened to a US president in any context.

Moreover, as long as Republicans have a majority in Congress, as they do now, it's arguably very unlikely Trump will be removed from office via impeachment or Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.