In a column for New York magazine's Intelligencer, longtime political observer Paul Campos pointed out that a close reading of the 25th Amendment reveals that -- should Vice President Mike Pence want to make a move and oust an increasingly volatile Donald Trump from the Oval Office -- he has until Sunday to do it.
Conceding that Pence would also need the help of eight Trump Administration cabinet members to pull it off, Campos said the Democratic-controlled House could step in and help the vice president become acting president for the rest of Trump's term.
As Campos notes, Section Four of the amendment allows a vice president with the help of the majority of the cabinet to start in motion the removal of the president if the Oval Office resident is deemed to be unstable.
Saying that framers created the amendment for a situation the country finds itself in now -- with the president lashing out at his enemies, handing out pardons to political cronies and appearing to become more unhinged as January 20th approaches -- Campos wrote, "Those who drafted and ratified the amendment made clear at the time that they were quite consciously employing general and open-ended language in the amendment's text, rather than trying to define what circumstances would warrant the use of Section Four, because they concluded wisely that it would be vain to try to anticipate in advance all the circumstances that would require removing a president."
But as he points out, there is a catch which makes Sunday a drop-dead date for Pence.
With the caveat that Pence would have to find eight cabinet members will to go up against the president, Campos explained that Pence needs to hand a letter to both the House and the Senate declaring his intentions.
"Trump would put up a fight, but it wouldn't matter this late in his presidency. Once Pence has transmitted the letter to Congress that makes him acting president, Trump may contest the vice-president's actions via a letter of his own. Section Four, however, would give Pence four days to respond to this letter," Campos wrote. "After Pence did so, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives could — by simple majority vote — decline to act on the substantive dispute for the remaining 21 days. (Meanwhile, Democrats could filibuster any action in the Senate.) Were it not the end of his term, Trump would return to office after 21 days if Congress failed to act."
Those 25 days are important, as he wrote, because, "The mechanics of the amendment allow the vice-president to remain in the position of acting president for a minimum of 25 days, as long as a simple majority of at least one chamber of Congress is willing to cooperate."
The columnist concluded, "This, in effect, means that Pence could become acting president on Sunday, December 27, and would remain in the position for the rest of the current administration's term in office, as long as House Democrats acceded to the new status quo," before adding, "For the good of the nation, he should do so this weekend."
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The dubious Arizona election "audit" is plagued by problems and nowhere close to completion.
The Democratic secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, sent a letter Wednesday pointing out that ballots have been left unattended, laptop computers unlocked and unsupervised, and untrained workers are using inconsistent procedures to count more than 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, reported the Washington Post.
The review is far behind schedule, with only about 20 percent of the ballots counted after almost two weeks of work, and workers must vacate Veterans Memorial Coliseum when their rental agreement ends May 14, and the venue's operators say previous commitments to a high school graduation cannot be undone.
Hobbs, the current secretary of state, said in her letter that elections are "governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency" but the recount effort ordered by the GOP state Senate and led by Florida firm Cyber Ninjas "ensure none of those things."
Former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, a Republican who's acting as spokesman for the audit, did not respond to a request for comment by tweeted that Hobbs' allegations were "baseless claimes [sic]."
"The audit continues!" read the tweet.
Volunteers are helping Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO pushes election conspiracy theories on Twitter, look for evidence of fraud that may have deprived Donald Trump of an election win.
Contractors have examined ballots under microscopes and UV lights to search for watermarks, based on claims that originated among Qanon conspirators, or traces of bamboo, which conspiracy theorists believe would prove the ballots were imported from China and, therefore, fraudulent.
"What they're doing is to find out if there's bamboo in the paper," said John Brakey, an assistant to Bennett. "They're doing all sorts of testing to prove if it was or wasn't, and that's very important, because the only way you're going to persuade people on changing is having facts, and we're on a mission for facts."
Former Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite didn't let the novel coronavirus pandemic slow down his travels in the last year of the Trump White House.
USA Today reports that Braithwaite racked up a $2.3 million travel bill in his last eight months on the job despite the fact that many other Trump officials canceled their travel plans.
In total, Braithwaite logged 21 flights in eight months that included trips to far-away destinations such as India, Bahrain, and Singapore. No other Trump-appointed military official logged in as many trips at such a hefty expense over that period of time, the paper notes.
Braithwaite defended his travels in an email to USA Today.
""I am extremely proud of the record of accomplishments of Our Sailors and Marines during my tenure as Secretary, especially following such a tumultuous chapter in the Navy's recent history of crisis following crisis as compared to our other services," he wrote. "I submit it's impossible to lead men and women deployed around the world from behind a desk in Washington."
On Thursday, NBC News reported that FBI officials may have raided the wrong home while looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop that was stolen during the Capitol riot.
The raid occurred at the home of Marilyn Hueper in Homer, Alaska.
"The search for the House speaker's laptop had taken a U.S. Capitol Police officer thousands of miles away from home for an FBI raid on Hueper's home, looking for something stolen during the Jan. 6 insurrection — and the person who did it," said the report. "The agents would walk out of Hueper's home with iPads, cellphones and a pocket-sized copy of the Declaration of Independence. They took a laptop, but it wasn't from Pelosi's office. And it's possible they may have the wrong person altogether — even though Hueper looks strikingly similar to the thief."
"Federal prosecutors have charged more than 400 people, the largest undertaking by the department, including scores of defendants who posted images of their crimes online and boasted about breaking into the hallowed building. Some are facing serious charges and considerable prison time," said the report. "Hueper and her husband first came to officials' attention this year when Alaska Airlines in February banned the couple for refusing to wear masks on a flight, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. Then two other people called in tips saying they recognized Hueper in photos that authorities had released of suspects wanted for storming the Capitol."
The FBI has searched meticulously for everyone they can find in connection with the Capitol rioters. Some of them have been busted as a result of the gossip of family members.
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