Check out the 25th Constitutional Amendment. A vice president, working with a “majority of either the principle officers of the executive departments, or of such body as Congress may by law provide,” can remove the president for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Yeah, I know. It’s too soon.
Yeah, I know. Nobody has ever invoked the 25th for reasons of mental impairment.
But even the craven enabling Republicans would do well to read that proviso, because the day may come when they’re finally compelled to acknowledge — in the national interest — that Trump is dangerously off his rocker. We’re only five days into this farce, and it’s obvious already. As conservative commentator Andrew Ferguson rightly points out, “the candidate who campaigned as a sociopath shows signs he may yet govern as one.”
The latest reminder is Trump’s alternative fact about the election. At the tail end of November, he said he was robbed of a popular vote victory because millions of people had “voted illegally” for Hillary. It was just another baldfaced lie. He had zero evidence of massive voter fraud, just as he’d had zero evidence that Obama was foreign-born. We figured — foolish us — that Trump, with his attention deficit disorder, would simply forget the lie and find a new one. Which he did.
But now he’s obsessing about it again, marinating anew in his delusion. We should not be surprised. Sick and twisted people do stuff like this.
On Monday night, during a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, the kind of meeting where a new president is expected to behave sanely, he stated that he lost the popular vote because three to five million people voted illegally. He offered no evidence of mass fraud, because there isn’t any. Then yesterday, during a press briefing, propaganda minister Sean Spicer recited Trump’s alternative fact, and said it was “based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.” The press asked: What studies? What evidence? Spicer replied: “Studies and information he has.”
What studies? What information? Trump is apparently still fixated on a November story that was posted on Infowars, a tinfoil-hat website, which declared in a headline: “3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens.” Problem is, the story had no evidence (the kind that passes muster in the empirical world). Plus, the guy who runs Infowars has stated on the record that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre never happened.
But Trump still won’t let it go. This morning, he was tweeting again: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD.”
Someone in the Justice Department should tell him that illegal voting on a massive scale is impossible to pull off without everyone noticing it on day one. Someone in Justice should remind him that when Jill Stein sought recounts shortly after the election, his own lawyers wrote: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.” But he wouldn’t listen, because he doesn’t do irony.
A few Republicans have roused themselves to protest Trump’s idiocy. Mike Huckabee, a big supporter, told Fox News Business Network yesterday: “I have no evidence whatsoever, and I don’t know that anyone does, that there are that many illegal people who voted … I’m not sure why he brought it up.”
(Um, hello? He brought it up because he’s too insecure to accept his decisive popular vote defeat; because he needs to find an excuse, even if he has to slime our democracy in the process.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham had the most substantive rebuke: “I would urge the president to knock this off … To continue to insist that the 2016 election was conducted in a fashion that millions of people voted illegally undermines faith in our democracy … So I am begging the president, ‘Share with us the information you have about this, or please stop saying it … People are going to start doubting you as a person.'”
But, all too predictably, most Republicans reacted as if jelly had replaced their spines. They simply pretend they don’t hear what they don’t want to hear. (Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, after the Monday meeting: “I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. I was ready to move on.”) In their lust to enact their long-stymied agenda (throwing people off Obamacare, gutting the EPA, etc.), they’re apparently prepared to indulge Trump’s serial lies and delusions.
His temperament is already a burgeoning issue. The anecdotes are piling up. But what’s most remarkable about this revealing story is the ninth paragraph: “This account of Trump’s tumultuous first days in office comes from interviews with nearly a dozen senior White House officials and other Trump advisers and confidants, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations and moments.” In other words, Trump aides are already leaking like a sieve — to the free and independent press that Trump hates.
So the question is: How long will Republicans indulge him before they man up to do their duty? Will they sit silent until he rants us to the brink of a needless war that could get a lot of people killed? This week’s “voter fraud” delusion is merely a toxic appetizer.