Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein tweeted last week that “important Republicans” and higher ups in the intelligence and military communities had been “increasingly saying in private that @realDonaldTrump is unfit to be president.”
That was on Tuesday. By Thursday, GOP Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, questioned Donald Trump’s fitness aloud with a quote that ricocheted around Washington at lighting speed.
The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful…
By Sunday, CNN’s Brian Stelter devoted an entire segment to mounting questions about Trump’s mental suitability to function as leader of our nation.
“Is the president of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? “And if he is unfit, then what?” Stelter asked on the program Reliable Sources. Bernstein appeared on the segment, providing more details about the chatter he mentioned earlier in the week.
“Republicans in Congress, the highest of intelligence officials, the highest of military officers in our country, leaders of the business community, all of whom have dealt with the White House, and many of them dealt personally with Donald Trump, have come to believe that he is unfit for the presidency.
“That’s what I’m learning as a reporter talking to many, many people in Washington, who over the last month or two have come to that conclusion.
“And especially among Republicans in Congress, they have been raising the very question of his stability and his mental fitness to be President of the United States.”
Bernstein called on journalists to start devoting more time to this “important, crucial, dangerous story.” It’s not the first time he’s done so, but Corker’s comments lent a public face to the story Bernstein says he’s been hearing privately since the beginning of Trump’s presidency.
One has to wonder if Trump’s heinous defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis last week may have provided a turning point on the question of his removal from office by Congress—either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment. While a smattering of Democratic politicians have pushed this issue over the past several months, it will be interesting to see if more congressional lawmakers add their names to the cause.
Last week, California Rep. Jackie Speier became the first member of Congress to call for Trump’s ouster using the 25th Amendment, which can be invoked by the vice president and a majority of the cabinet. If the president rejects the call, a two-thirds majority vote of both chambers of Congress would be required to permanently boot Trump.
In an interview with the Bay Area News Group, Speier said on Wednesday said she’d been thinking about the 25th Amendment for a long time, as she met with foreign dignitaries who voiced worries about Trump’s policies and personal stability. But “the tipping point” leading to her calling for his removal, she said, came in the last week or so.
“It was the combination of both his belligerence and hatred that he exuded relative to Charlottesville and his taunting of Kim Jong Un on North Korea, his willingness to send troops into Venezuela,” she said. “I’m very fearful right now.”
It’s debatable whether the more likely avenue for Trump’s removal would be the 25th Amendment or impeachment, perhaps based on a finding by special counsel Robert Mueller. But the appetite of lawmakers to take such an action would be key to either event. It will be interesting to see if we hear more in this vein from other Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the coming weeks.