Bush Ethics Lawyer: Trump’s Nuclear Button Tweet Is Sufficient For Removal

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedI have previously written about the reckless claims of commentators and congressmen for the impeachment or removal of President Donald Trump.  Some based these calls on tweets posted by Trump, including comments on the NFL protests.  When calls for impeachment began to wane, many turned to the 25th Amendment.  Now, the former ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush Richard Painter has declared that Trump can be removed on the basis for removal under the 25th Amendment — a dangerous and unsupportable interpretation of the constitutional standard.

Trump osted a tweet that was rightfully denounced as bizarre and unpresidential.  Trump tweeted “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

For many, it seemed like a form of Freudian button envy.  However, Painter believes that a tweet viewed as juvenile is sufficient to allow members of Congress to remove a president from office.  Painted issued his own tweet stating “Two psychologically unfit men crowing about their nukes. This is not a good way to start the New Year. Congress needs to deal with one of them and the UN Security Council needs to deal with the other.”

Painter has previously declared the 25th Amendment satisfied.  As I have previously stated,  Trump’s conduct may be offensive or objectionable but it falls well short of  Section 4’s provision the removal from power. There are  essentially, two avenues for dragging a president from the Oval Office. First, there is the mutiny option. A vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can agree that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and notify Congress that the vice president intends to take over. If Vice President Pence could get eight Cabinet officers to sign a letter to that effect, he would immediately become the “Acting President.”  But if the president then declares to Congress that “no inability exists,” Trump could resume his powers.

The second option under Section 4 is a decision to remove the president could be made, alternatively, by “such other body as Congress may by law provide.” This is the course Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) has sought with proposed legislation to create an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity”—a body to decide if the president is physically and mentally fit. However, not only would this require a GOP controlled Congress to implement, it would still require the vice president’s assent.

More importantly, the Constitution only requires Trump to be able to discharge his duties; not necessarily to discharge them well. The fact is that Trump exhibited most of the traits he exhibits today during his campaign and his long business and television careers.

I have repeatedly criticized the President for his tweets and oft-hand comments, particularly about pending litigation.  Obviously, my renewed suggestion of a New Year’s resolution to remove or eliminate these tweets has clearly gone unfulfilled.  No surprise there.  However, if the President’s tweets are increasing the tensions in this standoff, Painter’s tweet is also dangerous in lowering the standard for removal of a president.  There is no constitutional license to remove Presidents under the 25th Amendment for comments deemed boorish or juvenile or inappropriate.  Dressing up an unconstitutional removal in the language of the 25th Amendment does not change the character or inappropriateness of the effort.

113 thoughts on “Bush Ethics Lawyer: Trump’s Nuclear Button Tweet Is Sufficient For Removal

  1. It is pointless for Kim Jong Un to bluster about having a nuclear button. We have a nuclear button, too, and we are more advanced. Now, let’s all step away from the button.

    Of course Trump could have expressed himself more effectively. South Korean culture heavily emphasizes their version of machismo and swagger in males. They take bluster and losing face seriously. I do not know if North Korea is the same, but suspect so. There are cultural ways to handle this.

    The Trump Administration should evolve and learn, and use the communications resources at their disposal in the Tweet process. If they chose, they could use the next 4 years to hone Tweets and social media to effective, precise, laser focused communications tools if they so chose. Use the resources.

    In the meantime, there is a significant number of Democrats who simply do not accept the results of our election. They want to get their way at any cost. They have tried one excuse after another – mental fitness, trying to pressure the electoral college, wanting to do away with the electoral college, conspiracy theories, collusion theories (which rather ensnared their own candidate, ignore it though they might), and now the 25th Amendment.

    Look, this is the lawful result of an election. Unless you want to descend into chaos and have every side engage in these anarchic tactics, then stop attempting a coup. Do we live in a lawful, representative republic or don’t we? It would be tragic if they persisted in trying to overthrow the government. This is how great civilizations decay and fall.

    • A corrupted crazy man named Donald T rump won. So there. His wife did not want this but he did not give a damn. Read da Bannon book.

    • Karen

      If ever there was a euphemistic way of illustrating the complete shame that is Trump, your description ranks up there. The man is an idiot, lying sack of sh*t, narcissistic megalomaniac, and charlatan extraordinaire. Regarding Democrats not accepting this travesty; many Republicans don’t accept it either and their ranks grow day by day, tweet by tweet, bluster by bluster. The Republican Party held the country hostage for almost eight years refusing to accept Obama as President. Obama, regardless of opinion, righted the ship and gave the idiot Trump a healthy economy moving on an upward path. Trump was claiming all successes from before he was elected. As far as descending into chaos. That is the one success Trump can claim, and in only one year. It took Bush eight years to take America into chaos. Google the news over the past dozen or so years and then come back to respond.

      • The man is an idiot, lying sack of sh*t, narcissistic megalomaniac, and charlatan extraordinaire.

        LOL! But most importantly, he is the President of the United States. Well, and he’s squatting in the brain of the collective left. So there’s that. 🙂

      • You freely share your opinion. I’ll share mine. Trump is an awesomely entertaining and entirely qualified leader of the freakin’ free world who just might solve the North Korea nukes problem created by Bubba Clinton and others who turned away from the problem and kicked the can down the road. Trump is tackling the problem head-on in his own way and I believe he will succeed. There is communication with Kim Jong Un, there is engagement, there is humor, and there are signs of flexibility and movement being shown by North Korea as they reopen the border hotline with South Korea and engage in talks about participating in the Olympics. All of this is a good thing, not a bad thing. I am hopeful and encouraged by what Trump is doing. I am far more confident in President Trump who has decades of business experience and high-level success under his belt, than I ever was in a former pot-smoking, chain-smoking, Marxist community organizer who came out of nowhere, having done nothing, to become the leader of the free world. I thank God every day that Trump is in the Oval Office and not Hillary.

        Many believe that Trump and his associates are going to be taken down by the Mueller investigation. I disagree. And as one who knew all along that Hillary Clinton would never, ever in this lifetime sit in the Oval Office as POTUS, I trust my instincts on this as well.

      • isaac – there is a solution to not liking who is in the White House. Lots of voters utilized this solution to their dislike of Obamacare. They voted. You, too, can vote.

        That is how this works. Every 4 years, roughly half the country ranges from mildly pleased or benign to ecstatic, while the other half ranges from displeased to outraged.

        People lost their health care because of the last president. Individual policies were saddled with a replacement that good doctors don’t accept, many cancer treatment centers don’t accept, and it cost as much as a 2nd mortgage. The quality was complete garbage. Instead of focusing their efforts on helping the poor, they ruined everyone else’s policies. Much of America have been in the dark about the reality of the cost of Obamacare, because their (evil) bosses pay a share. They have no idea.

        It was ruinous to many middle class families. Catastrophic to some facing cancer and an insurance card non grata where their prior insurance was accepted.

        And it was all passed on a bald faced lie. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your insurance. You’ll save $2500 a year. These weren’t mistakes. The paper trail proves they were deliberate lies, and I quote “to take advantage of the stupidity of the American public.”

        You want to talk about being furious at the actions of the President? This is your definition of “righting the ship?” This was life or death to some families. And yet there were no rioting in the streets, no nationwide efforts to enact a coup, no collusion with the mainstream media to unseat a President, and no manufacturing crimes that are not based on any law. You know what people did.

        They voted. They were harmed by President Obama, and they voted.

        And they did not vote for one of the most corrupt politicians in history, regardless of the existence of her female reproductive organs which, surprisingly, some people felt were immaterial to how someone can do the job or follow the law.

    • Karen

      If ever there was a euphemistic way of illustrating the complete shame that is Trump, your description ranks up there. The man is an idiot, lying sack of sh*t, narcissistic megalomaniac, and charlatan extraordinaire. Regarding Democrats not accepting this travesty; many Republicans don’t accept it either and their ranks grow day by day, tweet by tweet, bluster by bluster. The Republican Party held the country hostage for almost eight years refusing to accept Obama as President. Obama, regardless of opinion, righted the ship and gave the idiot Trump a healthy economy moving on an upward path. Trump was claiming all successes from before he was elected. As far as descending into chaos. That is the one success Trump can claim, and in only one year. It took Bush eight years to take America into chaos. Google the news over the past dozen or so years and then come back to respond.

      • Karen gets her info. from Fox, proving the research that documented Fox listeners are less well-informed than people who listen to no news.

        • Karen gets her info. from Fox

          Knowing you have zero evidence of every source Karen uses to get her news, your comment is the equivalent of Karen is a poo poo head. I get that you cannot match Karen’s often reasonable, logical and articulate posts, but at least try something other than that tripe.

            • Your limited attention span and inability to rebut reasonable and logical statements from Karen are a reflection on you and you alone. Stick to your socialist rants as you’re out of your depth with anything Karen puts forward.

              • In a prior comment, Karen identified her pedantry as valued at “2 cents”. I’ll take her at her word unlike the cat-fishing ruse of “Autumn”. Those Republican stabs at humor so seldom work – George Bush looking under furniture for WMD’s and Trump’s FCC Chair parodying himself as Verizon’s puppet.

    • So impeachment would be a coup? Is that what the Republicans tried in 1998 when they impeached Bill Clinton?

  2. Wait. Bush invaded a country with no rationale or authority, squandered $4 trillion on absolutely nothing, killed 6,000 and wounded 1 million Americans and we should listen to this absurd emissary from the “deep state?” Considering the fact that 9/11 was a “deep state” “red flag” event designed to manipulate George II into action in the Middle East, pronouncements, indeed ostensible cogitation, from the Bush camp are preposterous and ludicrous.

    Can I say, what a ——- idiot?

    P.S. Are you aware that George H. W. Bush was closely associated with John Warnock Hinckley, Sr.?

    It’s a lot like the association of Obergruppenfuhrer Mueller, Hillary, Obama and the “deep state.”

    To wit,

    “Surprisingly, World Vision crops up again with Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., whose father, John Warnock Hinckley, Sr., was president of World Vision United States.

    The gunman’s father was also a multi-millionaire Texas oilman and President and Chairman of the independent oil and gas exploration firm Vanderbilt Energy Corporation. Considering he belonged to such a wealthy and prominent family, it seems rather odd that John Hinckley, Jr. was always portrayed by the media as some kind of vagabond who did nothing but stalk Jodie Foster and read Catcher all day.

    What was also rarely if ever reported was that Hinckley Sr. was a major financial contributor to the failed 1980 Presidential campaign of the Vice President, George H. W. Bush, the man who would have become President sooner had Reagan been killed in the assassination attempt.

    But the Bush-Hinckley family ties don’t end there. Oh no, not by a long shot…

    Hinckley’s older brother, Scott, had a dinner date scheduled at the home of Neil Bush, the Vice President’s son, the day after the assassination attempt on Reagan. A March 31, 1981 news headline by Associated Press confirmed this: Bush Son Had Dinner Plans With Hinckley Brother Before Shooting.

    George H.W. Bush’s other son, George W. Bush, also admitted to journalists that he may have had dealings with Scott Hinckley who was Vice-President of Vanderbilt Energy, but could not remember either way.

    Obviously this is all very circumstantial, but then again…What are the odds that the family of the convicted shooter of the President were intimately tied to the Vice President’s family and were also Texas oil tycoons who part-financed the Vice President’s unsuccessful presidential campaign against the President?”

    (Excerpted)

  3. Oy, the Trump v Bannon cat fight is entertaining, isn’t it. It’s really fun to see Trump, yet again, pretend that Bannon was only a peripheral figure. Remember when Bannon was put on the NSC?? LOL. I guess Papadopoulos was the coffee boy and Bannon served the danish, right?

    Team Trump is eating itself alive. They deserve everything coming to them.

  4. Funny. No photo posted of Painter. I wonder why? Perhaps he is the Aspie guy, pictured, from the other thread. . .you know, the one who jumps on kids backs, asking for pony rides. . .you know, the one who gives kids massages at airports. Why did JT post Trump’s photo? Painter is the man of the hour. Let’s see the doofus.

  5. Ford lost an election to Carter primarily because of a gaffe during a debate. Ford went AWOL and stated and affirmed that the Soviets did not dominate Eastern Europe. Compared to that Trump should be in the looney bin. Yet he is President. This does not illustrate a promising evolution of the intelligence of many Americans. What’s in store for us?

  6. Oh man, Trump makes Queeg look like Reagan, and the entirety of Congress and our Punditocracy make Tom Keefer and his mutineers look like Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

  7. You say: “There is no constitutional license to remove Presidents under the 25th Amendment for comments deemed boorish or juvenile or inappropriate. Dressing up an unconstitutional removal in the language of the 25th Amendment does not change the character or inappropriateness of the effort.”

    Insulting and taunting an equally emotionally immature hostile foreign leader is more than “boorish or juvenile”, it’s evidence of unfitness for office. Kim Jong Un has nuclear capabilities, a hair trigger temper, extreme emotional instability and doesn’t really care who dies so long as he can prove how powerful he is. It’s not like this is an isolated incident of un-Presidential behavior, self-aggrandizement and ill-tempered conduct. The rest of the world is wondering why we allow this to continue.

    How pathetically sad that everything the fat Dotard does revolves around his obsession with his teeny tiny little penis and his need to assert his perceived manliness. How sad that he cannot seem to realize that the more he behaves in this manner, the more he proves his impotence, on many levels.

    One thing the Dotard has done is to rally dormant patriotism. Being disgusted with the Dotard is patriotism at its best. If you love this country, you cannot possibly support Fatso.

    • Let’s see. . .the voice of calm and reason tells us that Trump has a “teeny, tiny little penis” and that he is impotent, among others things. . .yet, we are to believe that Trump is the boorish and juvenile one. Lol! It just doesn’t get any funnier than that! Tell us, nut-touched-one, just how do you know the size of Trump’s penis? Interesting. Comments about the alleged size of a sitting President’s penis sail right past the individuals in charge of keeping this blog civil.

      • Bam Bam: don’t you recall YOUR President bragging about his penis size during the campaign?

        You don’t have to be a Freudian psychiatrist to see his clear obsession with his equipment and to understand the reasons for his seemingly endless references to it. It’s the same reason he has a “good looking piece of ass” [his words, not mine] for a wife. That’s why he took such offense at the Vanity Fair writer who teased him about his tiny little hands. Bragging about his button being bigger and more powerful than Kim Jong Un’s button is so obviously phallic that a high school psychology student can understand it. At the end of the day, it’s really not funny at all. This fool has the power to destroy the world and no concept of the dignity and restraint owed to the office of the President of the United States. We are literally becoming shock proof in this country. That’s what little willy Donnie has done to us.

    • Do you sleep with Kim Jong Un? I presume you do, considering how intimately you appear to know him.

      Readers should not be surprised that Natacha, Un’s mistress (or mister, no one knows for sure on the inter webs) is such a rabid, immature enemy of Trump.

  8. I am sick of this! For the last year, we have to hear this crap, ad nauseum. Half the people in this country lost cards from their decks with the last election. Even the FBI has “come down” with the disease. Maybe they were playing with a partial deck all the time and we just didn’t notice. Every day, new revolations, more scandal. When will it stop? I don’t read this blog as much as I used to do and it’s because of the 💩. The country is going to hell in a head gasket but nobody listens to what Trump’s ideas are because they hate the man therefore his ideas must be all stupid. It’s infuriating. Think I will get outta Dodge.

  9. “Bush Ethics Lawyer”? Now there’s a contradiction in terms, eh, there yellow cake? Is that like being Clinton’s Advisor on Intern Sexual Abuse? Or Obama’s counselor on wiretapping Americans with opposing political views?

  10. I can’t help but add. . .if JT, who teaches law, gave an exam, where one of the hypotheticals, on said exam, gave the facts of this specific case, with Trump, inquiring whether, according to the 25th Amendment, there was sufficient cause, based upon the stated facts, to remove the President, any student–student–arguing the way in which Painter did. . .a so-called expert, in the field. . .would have flunked the exam.

  11. So, where, and, what, are the consequences for Painter? An individual, who, purportedly, is a legal expert in the realm of ethics and law. . .an ignoramus who misstates–either intentionally or unintentionally–the grounds for removal of a sitting President as per the 25th Amendment. Please, all of you, just itching to ramble on about free speech. . .how will he be held to account for his grossly inappropriate and misleading statement that Trump’s antics rise to the level of allowing him to be removed? Will his license to practice law, for what JT terms–his dangerous and unsupportive interpretation of a constitutional standard–be impacted? Will he be sanctioned? Admonished or reprimanded, in any form or fashion, by his local/state bar, for his reckless statements, which have no credence according to the law, as it is written, and which call for the ousting of the President? Funny, there are consequences if a member of the bar publicly states disparaging and untrue statements about an individual on the bench. Imagine. Consequences for stating disparaging and untrue statements about one on the bench. In this situation, an attorney, with expertise in the area, has made public disparaging and patently, untrue statements about the President of the United States. A public reprimand, at the very least, is in order, by the state bar with which he is licensed. Yeah. Right. Like that will ever happen.

    • (Reportedly from Bannon about Trump’s inner circle), “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category 5”.
      From the beginning, as Turley suggests, the WH (and the image maker behind him) have been over-the -top provocateurs.
      It appears the world must accept whatever consequences result, which is especially galling because more than 1/2 of Americans voted for Trump’s opponent.

  12. An Ethics advisor who didn’t do too well in advising Bush about the murderous led campaign by him in the destruction and murders of thousands of innocent victims in Iraq. That Bush fool and his then cohorts should still stand trial for World Crimes Against Humanity . To include Chaney,Powell, Rumsfeld,Rice,Wolfowitz and the one who hid in the background-Pearle.

  13. I think what Painter is saying is that Trump is nuts. If a guy is nuts, I think it might be prudent to separate him from his favorite nuclear toys.

  14. Knowing of the risk that an intellectually incompetent electorate can produce an intellectually incompetent leader, an optimal political system has a plan in place to address such incompetent leadership. The US plan is in serious need of upgrade and improvement.

    • an optimal political system has a plan in place to address such incompetent leadership.

      Our system of government, with all of its checks and balances, has proven to be the most optimal system every devised. Now unless you believe you have far more wisdom than those that created our system, it would be more prudent to look at the character and competence of those that animate it, as well as their constituents.

  15. But Painter has achieved his goal. He’s now a darling in liberal circles. Liberal news media will interview him and court him endlessly. Liberal academia will pay him to speak on campus.

    And the next Dem President will regret and fear Painter’s precedent.

  16. In other, more advanced democracies… The oligarchs have… The fat, orange buffoon… Da T Rump…

    That should provide a good starting point for responses.

  17. The nuclear button term was started back in the FDR/Truman days as referring to the system for using nuclear devices. These days it has degenerated into slur on trying to regain the majority rules process of the Constitution versus the super delegate process preferred by the single party, single leader DNC version. I do not excuse the RINO faction of the DNC from that characterization.

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