The State of the Union

by Caden Shapiro

Wednesday, a large group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S Capitol. Since those gathered at this rally were not peaceful, and intended to disrupt continuity of government, the house of the people, they should be addressed as “domestic terrorists.” The goal was “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, in the pursuit of political aims,” the definition of terrorism. Nonetheless, response from this event has triggered a range of reaction from a number of corporations and political operatives. This article will work to answer a few looming questions:

  • What is the 25th amendment?
  • Could Trump be on the 2024 ticket if impeached and who are his best options for VP?
  • Is the Democratic party split on an impeachment hearing? 
  • Significance of recent events and personal conclusion

The 25th Amendment 

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment has never been used. This avenue would be the fastest way for President Trump to be removed from office. However, it would require the Vice President, Mike Pence, to be on board. While this might seem out of question the relationship between the two have been nothing short of unprecedented. On Wednesday evening Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Twitter has since removed the post. Pence is perhaps still in play based on two pieces of information: Trump’s public denunciation of Pence, in turn stripping away a large and powerful amount of his political capital within the Republican party (https://morningconsult.com/2021/01/08/trump-approval-rating-capitol-riot-poll), and secondly based on quotations from Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who told reporters late Wednesday night “I’ve known Mike Pence forever, I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.” He followed with, “I had a long conversation with him,” “He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for (Trump)…’” (https://tulsaworld.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/inhofe-ive-never-seen-mike-pence-as-angry-as-he-was-today/article_439af4ae-5082-11eb-96b1-53cf9e218598.html)

Since 2016, Pence has largely been a stoic loyalist to the President with the exception of the emergence of the Hollywood Access Tape. (https://www.indianapolismonthly.com/news-and-opinion/politics/mike-pence-and-the-tale-of-the-tape)

Therefore, the Vice-President is malleable and could be susceptible to spearheading the process of a Trump-impeachment. Regardless, Pence is only the starting point. Trump’s Cabinet- comprised of 15 members – would then need to be on board. A majority (8) would only then advance the process. With the resignation of two senior cabinet officials, Betsy Devos (Education) and Elaine Chao (Transportation) the water only gets murkier. If a Majority were to exist, these members would have to include their names on a letter which stated that Trump is unfit for office (in simple terms). If the declaration is sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate president pro tempore Chuck Grassley, Trump loses his powers, making Pence acting president. (https://www.vox.com/2021/1/6/22217641/25th-amendment-section-4-pence-trump-cabinet)

Because Trump only has 11 days left in office there is not enough time for Trump to claim he actually is fit (a right that he completely and legally possesses) which would force the issue to go through the house then senate… This process is impossible because Congress would have 21 days to consider the matter. Biden is inaugurated on January 20th. Thus, Trump cannot contest Pence’s letter. 

Trump 2024 

Firstly, Trump can still run for re-election if impeached via section 4 of the 25th amendment. However, Democrats like Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have called for impeachment via the house of representatives. 

This course of action would disable Trump from holding office again but reaction is split within the party (skip to next section for more).  Nonetheless, Trump could still be poised for a 2024 run. Even after the Capitol debacle, Trump’s approval among Republicans is still 78%, proving an opportunity still exists for another shot at the Presidency. (https://morningconsult.com/2021/01/08/trump-approval-rating-capitol-riot-poll/)

Furthermore, distance and time might do the President well, providing the possibility to regain percentage points which he lost after this week (roughly 6-9%). This begs the question, who would Trump choose as a running mate?  In his speech to his supporters on Capitol hill he said, “and that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans. And we have great ones. Jim Jordan and some of these guys, they are out there fighting. The House guys are fighting, but it’s–it’s incredible. Many of the Republicans, I helped them get in. I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected. I helped– (Crowd Boos).” (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-told-supporters-stormed-capitol-hill/story?id=75110558)

So Jim Jordan? There have been a number of loyalists to the President, backing him in the most turbulent eras of his Presidency. His best options could include Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), or even Senator Hawley (R-MO) who worked in tandem with Cruz to raise issues about election integrity and voter fraud on Wednesday. Donald Trump Jr. has been outspoken in his interest in the political scene and justifiably, has been an active political operative in support of his father. Perhaps Don could be a dark horse as a VP bid, he would certainly demonstrate the loyalty Trump requires out of that office, an office which the President touts failed him. With the exception of the Bush’s, if this scenario were to come to fruition, it could enable a political legacy of dominance unforeseen in American politics. 

Donald Trump, Jr. (L) greets his father Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis

Dems split on impeachment hearing

It is important to note that impeachment pursued through section 4 of the 25th amendment will not lead to the permanent disbarment of Trump from office. Thus, many Dems are pursuing impeachment though the house insofar as to prevent the President from ever assuming another office. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ultimately attempting to remove Trump as soon as possible via the 25th amendment. Chuck Schumer and others like Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) have echoed this move.

Nonetheless, according to Deidre Walsh and Claudia Grisales of NPR, “house Democrats have already drafted articles of impeachment that will be filed at a pro forma session on Monday. A group of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee — Reps. Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and David Cicilline of Rhode Island — are circulating them, and so far more than 150 Democrats have signed on, according to a source familiar with the effort. That represents more than half of the House Democratic caucus.” (https://www.npr.org/2021/01/08/954870126/house-democrats-weigh-impeachment-as-they-urge-trumps-removal)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy put out a statement on the matter that read, “impeaching the President with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more.” His full statement can be accessed below:

Centrist Democrats agree to an extent, with concern regarding the process taking away from the incoming Biden administration, especially with questions surrounding confirming Biden-nominated cabinet officials amidst dealing with an impeachment process. Ultimately, Senior Dems optimal course of action is to pursue the removal of the President with the support of Vice-President Mike Pence thereto leading a swift removal and avoiding a drawn out hearing which could perhaps endanger future cooperation with Republicans, specifically Moderate Republicans. Pelosi and co. are calling for Trump to resign immediately but these calls are ludicrous and hopeless in the context of the Trump Presidency. 

Personal Conclusion 

I’ve taken the course ‘History of the Americas’ for the past two years. During that time our class has looked at revolutions, dissected corruption, assessed political movements, evaluated powerful individuals and their influence, and come face to face with evil. I’ve learned that evil ignores and averts the will of the people, that evil is a form of greed, that evil stems from a deep sense of insecurity, and that evil ultimately suppresses. I have also learned that what beats out evil nine times out of ten is the desire for freedom. 

That idea, that principle is something that we can all rally behind. In the warfare of modern politics, it feels like unification has become centered around and dependent on individuals. While it is understood certain politicians may champion a set of principles more than others, it should be recognized that unification can be acted upon by us, the people, and does not have to depend on people who only represent one color of our flag. 

Nevertheless, January 20th comes closer with each passing day and congress has certified Joseph R. Biden’s victory to become the 46th president of the United States.  

This week’s events will be published in our children’s history books and will be discussed just as our class has evaluated movements in America and Latin American in the past century. Our children will be asked to determine factors which boiled into this undertaking, identify prominent political figures on both sides and their role, and ultimately assess the politicized climate in America at the time. They will deliberate and come to their respective conclusions.

Yet, we are living their discussion. Therefore, I ask you to consider and reflect on what can be done to contribute to their paper because the ink hasn’t dried, and the page hasn’t turned. The people don’t know their true power….