Under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
In 1985, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel explained that:
We believe that the “principal officers of the executive departments” for the
purposes of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment are the heads of the departments
listed in 5 U.S.C. § 101. . . .
With Trump’s ad libbed statements only inflaming a very dangerous position in North Korea, now very well may be the time in which Pence must act to avert his incompetent boss from triggering a nuclear confrontation. Granted, being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” is a very high threshold, but Trump’s actions may have demonstrated that he simply lacks the temperament to do so and is putting both the nation and the Republican party in grave danger.
A Vice President Pence “palace coup” under Section 4 would require 8 of the following to vote yes. I have generally assumed that cabinet members with loyalties to Congress or past administrations or who have been mistreated or expressed frustration under Trump would be more likely to vote yes.
Below is my guess as to how Pence can get to 8 votes based on the above but I stress that I have no actual hard evidence that any cabinet member would or would not vote that way. I think it is a doable proposition, but there is the old saying from Shakespeare – Come at the king, you best not miss.
| Department of State
| Dept of the Treasury
| Department of Defense
Gen. (Ret.) James Mattis
| Department of Justice
Dept of the Interior
|Dept of Agriculture
| Dept of Commerce
| Department of Labor
|Dept of HHS
Department of HUD
|Dept of Transportation
|Department of Energy
| Dept of Education
|Dept of Veterans Affairs
|Dept of Homeland Sec.
|TOTAL YES||TOTAL NO||UNKNOWN|