Calls Rise for 25th Amendment: Should Joe Biden Resign?

Joe Biden
February 22, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: 2024 ElectionJoe BidenPolitics25th AmendmentAgingU.S. Politics

Calls Rise for 25th Amendment: Should Joe Biden Resign?

Members of Congress continue to suggest that President Joe Biden should be removed under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution—even after a psychiatrist who led a national movement to oust his predecessor called cognitive decline “normal.”

Members of Congress continue to suggest that President Joe Biden should be removed under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution—even after a psychiatrist who led a national movement to oust his predecessor called cognitive decline “normal.”

Special counsel Robert Hur issued a report earlier this month finding that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” but recommending against prosecution because of Biden’s “diminished faculties in advancing age and his sympathetic demeanor.” 

“It is sad that it got to this point, but America desperately needs capable leadership in the White House,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “The safety of our country is at stake. Democrats who constantly strategized to remove Donald Trump from office outside of the electoral process seem strangely quiet now that their guy is clearly asleep at the switch.”

Dr. Bandy X. Lee (no relation), a forensic psychiatrist who edited the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” last week defended Biden in light of the Hur report.

“Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging,” Lee told The Daily Signal, and “very high levels of cognitive decline can be present without affecting fitness for duty.”

In December 2017, however, she reportedly briefed a dozen members of Congress about using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.  

Democrats defending Biden after Hur issued his report didn’t give a similar benefit of the doubt to Trump, his predecessor, Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., said. 

“There has been a glaring double standard in defense of Joe Biden’s failing mental competency since the special counsel report revealed that Joe Biden is mentally unfit to serve in office,” Miller told The Daily Signal in a statement. 

“The same people who questioned President Trump’s mental stamina after he passed a cognitive test are now defending Biden’s mental acuity—even after the report indicates serious concerns over his cognitive abilities,” the Illinois Republican said. “For the safety of our nation, Joe Biden must resign. He is not competent to remain as commander in chief and every day that he remains, he puts our national security at risk.”

The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to determine whether a president should be temporarily removed from office if he is deemed unfit to serve. It requires votes by two-thirds majorities of both houses of Congress to permanently remove the president. 

“Special counsel Hur cited President Biden’s lack of mental fitness as an excuse not to prosecute him for willfully mishandling classified documents,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told The Daily Signal in a statement. “It’s time for [Attorney General Merrick] Garland to stop treating our commander in chief with kid gloves and either invoke the 25th Amendment or rightfully prosecute him.” 

In a press conference after the report’s release, the president said his memory is fine and accused the special counsel of mischaracterizing him in the report. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that media coverage of the effects of Biden’s age doesn’t reflect reality. Other administration officials noted that Biden’s two interviews with Hur’s investigative team came as the president was responding to Hamas’ terrorist attacks in Israel. 

Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., has called for the nation’s attorney general to take action. She sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Feb. 8, the day the Hur report was released. 

“Special counsel Hur’s report details that President Biden knowingly possessed classified documents, but even more alarming is the special counsel’s recount of the failing memory and mental capacity of the president,” Tenney told The Daily Signal. 

“I recently sent a letter [to] Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging him and the rest of the Cabinet to uphold the Constitution and immediately initiate proceedings under the 25th Amendment to remove President Biden from office due to his severe cognitive decline,” Tenney said. “Either President Biden is fit to stand trial, or he is unfit to serve as president. There is no middle ground.”

Beyond the special counsel’s conclusion, mere observation of the president makes the case about his capacity, contends Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga.

“Anyone who watches Joe Biden try to deliver a speech or climb stairs knows he’s not up to the job. The only reason you’d refuse a cognitive test is if you can’t pass it,” Collins told The Daily Signal.

It’s not only federal officials who are weighing in on the findings of the Hur report. 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, as a top law enforcement official in his state, wrote a Feb. 13 letter to Vice President Kamala Harris calling for her to convene Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment. 

“President Biden’s behavior and his public missteps—which are well documented—reveal that his diminished cognitive capacity absolutely impacts how he makes decisions,” Morrisey, a Republican, told The Daily Signal in a statement. 

“If President Biden isn’t well enough to be charged, as stated in the Hur report, how is he well enough to be the chief executive of the United States? You can’t have it both ways,”  Morrisey said. “We need a president who can handle the rigors of the office.”

Biden, according to Hur’s report, “did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended … and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began.” 

The report also stated: “He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”

Although Biden expressed outrage during his Feb. 8 press conference that Hur’s team had brought up his son’s death in interviewing him, according to subsequent news reports citing sources close to the investigation, the president himself raised the subject in recalling his vice presidency.

State legislatures ratified the 25th Amendment in 1967, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy four years earlier. Lawmakers crafted the amendment to address concern about what to do if the president were still alive but experiencing a health crisis. 

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, a former White House physician for Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, last week called for Biden to take a cognitive test. 

Jackson was more cautious about invoking the 25th Amendment, calling instead in the near term for Biden to take a cognitive test, as Trump did.  

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and House Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., are among 83 House members who joined Jackson in calling for Biden to undergo a cognitive exam. 

“The radical Left and their number one ally, the mainstream media, hounded me to administer a cognitive exam to President Trump, which I did, and he got a perfect score,” Jackson said. 

“It is about time they do the same for President Biden. There is absolutely no comparison between Trump and Biden’s mental fitness.”

“There is a simple solution to the Biden administration’s problem: Administer a cognitive exam for the president,” the physician said. “If he is unable or unwilling to sit for an exam, then his Cabinet should start the process of invoking the 25th Amendment.”

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has said that Biden’s press conference defending his mental competency proved the need for using the process prescribed by the 25th Amendment. 

Specifically, the 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of Cabinet secretaries to determine whether a president is physically or mentally unfit to carry out the duties of the office. If the president is deemed unfit, the vice president would become acting president on a temporary basis. 

Under the amendment, Congress could remove the president from office permanently with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. That is a higher bar than for impeachment, which requires only a simple majority in the House to vote for an impeachment trial and possible removal in the Senate.

What’s different about the political commentary in the “Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” and calls for invoking the 25th Amendment in Biden’s case?

There was no formal finding—legal or psychological—regarding Trump’s mental competency to be president. Although the Hur report’s appraisal of Biden isn’t a medical or psychological finding, it formally documents Biden’s mental capacity at a time when polls show two-thirds of Americans say they don’t believe Biden is mentally fit to serve as president.

Posts on social media frequently mock Biden for appearing confused on stage or for being led off stage by first lady Jill Biden. 

Trump announced in 2020, his last year as president, that he had taken a cognitive test. Neither Trump nor Biden were evaluated by medical professionals for mental fitness, however. 

Making a determination about either could violate the “Goldwater Rule,” which prevents psychiatrists and psychologists from offering a “professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

The American Psychiatric Association adopted the rule after a group of partisan Democrats identified as psychology professionals declared that 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be president.”