On Thursday, Americans woke up talking about the 14th Amendment and went to bed discussing the 25th. In the morning, a hearing at the Supreme Court versed on whether former president Donald Trump should be disqualified from running for office for his role in the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In the afternoon, Republican lawmakers argued that the time had come to apply the 25th Amendment, intended to incapacitate the president if he is unfit to hold office. This claim was prompted by the report of special counsel Robert Hur, which portrayed him as an old man with a bad memory who did not remember when he was vice president or when his son died. These remarks, and many others in the same vein, have outraged Biden, his lawyers and Democrats as a whole.
The 25th Amendment, adopted after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, is a procedure to replace the president if the latter dies, resigns or is removed from office through impeachment. Republican politicians have been holding up the report as proof that Biden should go. “Merrick Garland has a duty to invoke the 25th Amendment to his fellow Cabinet members. Or prosecute Biden. If he won’t prosecute, then invoke the 25th now,” posted Josh Hawley, senator for Missouri, on the social media platform X.
“Biden is either mentally capable to stand trial and should be charged for mishandling classified documents as Vice President OR he is unfit to serve as President. There is no middle ground,” posted Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York, who also asked to explore the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment.
There has been an avalanche of messages along those same lines: “This report labels Biden as a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory. That does not describe someone who should be the Commander in Chief of our armed forces and the defender of American freedoms. It’s time for his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment,” posted Rick Scott, senator for Florida. “Never been a stronger case for the 25th amendment than right now,” posted Mike Collins, a representative for Georgia.
The list goes on. “Special Counsel Hur said Biden is a ‘well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’ His present mental and physical condition should preclude him from being the President of the United States,” posted North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy. “Today’s report from Robert Hur tells us two things: There’s a double standard of justice in this country. And Joe Biden isn’t fit for office,” added Jim Jordan, chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary. “Joe Biden isn’t capable to stand trial for all of the classified documents he stole after leaving office as a Senator and VP, yet he’s capable of carrying around the nuclear football? Joe Biden is unfit to serve as POTUS! Two solutions: 25th Amendment or impeachment,” wrote Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman from Georgia and a faithful Trump ally.
The special counsel’s report has outraged Democrats, starting with the president himself: “They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Biden said in an appearance this Thursday at the White House. “My memory is fine,” he said in an address in which at times he showed mental agility, but also made an inopportune slip-up when he said “the president of Mexico” when he meant “the president of Egypt.”
Biden’s lawyers unsuccessfully asked that some of the “inflammatory” mentions of the former president’s memory and mental acuity be removed from the report, which they considered out of place and a misrepresentation of events.
The special counsel has hit where it hurts the most for Democrats. Many voters consider that Biden is too old to run for re-election and a report with the seal of the Department of Justice seems to confirm just that, even if the authors are not doctors but lawyers. For Trump, who appointed Hur as special counsel, it was the perfect gift in an election year in which he aspires to return to the White House.
Some Democrats have also come out in public to defend the president. “He’s very sharp, no memory issues, and his only stumbling is when he trips over words consistent with his lifelong speech impediment,” said Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild on NBC News. Biden struggled with stuttering and frequently made gaffes when he was young. Now, those mistakes are used as ammunition against him.
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