When Senator Bob Corker suggested that Donald Trump’s White House had effectively turned into an “adult day care center,” it led to speculation that Corker was taking preliminary steps to make the case for impeachment. Corker isn’t running for reelection, so he doesn’t have to worry about being primaried for what Trump diehards would consider to be an act of high treason.
But even if a Republican Senator were to lead the charge for impeachment, it would still take a lot of heavy lifting to persuade the House to actually pass the necessary articles. But one legal expert suspects that there may be another way for Corker to stick it to Trump as he heads out the door–call for Trump’s removal via the 25th Amendment.
The second hour of CNN’s “New Day” led off with a panel discussion about Corker’s explosive interview with The New York Times, in which he suggested Trump’s often unhinged behavior could cause a war. One of the panelists, CNN and SiriusXM talk show host Michael Smerconish, suggested there was a method to Corker’s madness. Watch here.
John Avlon of The Daily Beast noted that Corker’s “drop the mic” comments should gain more traction since there’s no credible way to spin it as a partisan attack. After all, this is the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who is saying “what many Republican Senators are saying in private.”
Host Chris Cuomo then asked Smerconish for his thoughts. Smerconish, a practicing attorney, heard something else in Corker’s comments–echoes of the 25th Amendment.
“The lawyer in me hears something different. I’m thinking of the 25th Amendment, Section 4, which speaks to a president who is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Let’s just reflect on some of the word choices that Senator Corker has made, because post-Charlottesville, he was questioning the stability of the president. Now he’s using the word ‘reckless.’ Now he’s using the word ‘chaos.’ Now he’s saying that ‘he concerns me.’ I think he’s planting seeds for questioning the fitness, the mental fitness of the president, pursuant to the 25th Amendment, to continue with his responsibilities.”
For those who don’t know, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment states that when the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet notify the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate that the president can no longer “discharge the powers and duties of his office,” the vice president automatically becomes acting president. Smerconish believes that Corker is using words that would be “at the top of the list” of words that anyone would use to make the case that Trump is incapable of carrying out his duties.
Smerconish drove the point home further in a message to his Facebook followers. He believed that by using the words “recklessness,” “chaos,” “concerns me,” and “lacking in stability” about Trump, Corker is making “a deliberate word choice” in expressing his feelings about Trump. As he sees it, it’s a preliminary step toward making the case that Trump is incapable of carrying out his duties.
This came less than 24 hours after CNN’s Brian Stelter openly declared that the biggest question in the nation ought to be whether Trump is fit for office. If Smerconish is telling the truth, at least one member of Trump’s own party is taking the first baby steps toward saying that the answer to that question is “no.”
As of Monday night, we have yet to see any angry tweets from Trump–even though he has tended to blow up at even mildly critical coverage on CNN. Perhaps he knows that the walls are starting to close in on him.
(featured image courtesy Corker’s office, part of public domain)