In a shocking development, the US Capitol Hill was stormed by incumbent President Donald Trump's supporters on Wednesday. Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol at a time when the US lawmakers were planning to certify Democrat President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The Congress is the American Parliament and Trump's supporters stormed it when the Congress was in session.
It is to be noted that Trump lost the November 3 US presidential election against Biden but he is yet to concede defeat. Trump tried to stop Biden from taking oath by adopting legal recourses but in vain and now he has pinned his hopes on a mass uprising to resist eviction from the top post.
As the US Capitol Hill siege resulted in the deaths of four people, the demands for removal of Trump as US president has started growing stronger. Trump's tenure as US president is set to end on January 20.
But can Trump be removed as US president before the end of his term?
Here are the three possibilities under the American constitution for the removal of Donald Trump as US president before the end of his term.
The 25th Amendment to the American Constitution mentions about two situations when the incumbent president could be removed from the office. The first situation talks about voluntary or unavoidable absence of the president.
This was drafted after the assassination of John F Kennedy and was invoked when Ronald Reagan and George W Bush were admitted to hospital for treatment. In these instances, the then US vice president was given the powers of the president.
This situation is about the forced removal of the president when the elected leader fails to perform presidential duties but is unwilling to quit. This constitutional possibility can come into play in Trump’s case.
Section Four of the 25th Amendment allows US Vice-President Mike Pence and the US cabinet to declare that President Trump has failed to discharge his duties and he should be removed as US president. Pence would assume charge if this happens and will function as US president until Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Notably, the 25th Amendment was drafted in the US constitution to deal with a situation when the president is unable to discharge his duties due to a physical or mental illness. It gives Donald Trump the power to subsequently challenge Pence’s declaration of him being unable to perform his duties.
If Pence invokes Section Four to remove Trump from office, the incumbent president could write to the Congress that he has mental or physical inability.
Then Pence and the majority of the cabinet can approach the Congress again saying that Trump is actually unable to discharge his duties.
Following this, Congress will discuss the matter within 48 hours and it will have to vote by the two-thirds majority within 21 days to approve that Trump is unable to perform his duties.
IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL
The third possibility is the impeachment of President Trump which will be followed by his removal. As per the US constitution, impeachment means holding the president guilty on charges of high crime or misdemeanour by the House of Representatives. if the Lower House impeaches a US president, the matter goes before the Senate which needs to vote for removing the president from his office.