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Pence has not ruled out using 25th amendment

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According to a source close to the vice president:

Vice President Mike Pence has not ruled out an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and wants to preserve the option in case President Donald Trump becomes more unstable, a source close to the vice president says.

The source said there is some concern inside Pence’s team that there are risks to invoking the 25th Amendment or even to an impeachment process, as Trump could take some sort of rash action putting the nation at risk.

As of Saturday evening, Trump and Pence still have not spoken since the Wednesday incursion at the US Capitol that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, another source told CNN.

The President has also not made any public comments denouncing death threats that have been posted on social media targeting Pence. Pence has finally “gotten a glimpse of POTUS’s vindictiveness,” one source said, using the acronym for President of the United States.

Two sources familiar with the matter say Trump is angry at Pence and Pence is disappointed and saddened by Trump.Trump put Pence in an impossible position, asking him to overturn the election results during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.

When Pence explained that he could not do that and sent a letter to members of Congress that he would follow the Constitution, Trump used his Wednesday rally to egg on the crowd, telling them to march on Capitol Hill, and said of his vice president, “Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country, and if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.”

One thing that clearly seems to be going on is that both impeachment and the 25th amendment are being dangled before Trump in an attempt to keep him relatively under control for the next 11 days. This leak is surely a part of that strategy.

The great advantage of Section Four of the 25th amendment, relative to impeachment, is that Pence becomes Acting President at the moment he transmits a letter to Congress stating that the president is unfit to do the job. And because he remains Acting President for 25 days if Congress does nothing — and certainly Congress would do nothing in this situation — Pence could end Trump’s presidency at any moment (He does have to get a majority of the Cabinet to agree, but even that seems doable now, despite a certain amount of confusion regarding whether acting secretaries count etc).

Whether Pence is serious about all this remains to be seen, but to the extent these kinds of threats keep Trump for nuking San Francisco or what have you they are clearly good things.

Supposedly the House Democratic leadership has given Pence until tomorrow to invoke the 25th — otherwise they’ll impeach. An impeachment trial will not start prior to the Senate coming back into session on the 19th (beginning before then would require unanimous consent), but it would still be very worthwhile to convict Trump even after he’s no longer in office, both to bar him from holding future federal office, and to strip him of the couple of million of dollars of annual taxpayer support he is otherwise going to receive, in the form of a pension, office rental space, salaries for support personnel, travel expenses, and Secret Service protection. (Legal scholars disagree regarding whether convicting an official who is no longer in office is a legitimate use of the impeachment power, but there is a precedent from the Grant administration, when the Senate held a trial of a cabinet secretary who had already resigned).

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