Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats will hold an event on Friday to discuss the 25th Amendment amid concerns over President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.
“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow. We're going to be talking about the 25th Amendment. But not to take attention away from the subject we have now,” she said in response to a question at a press conference regarding a possible coronavirus stimulus package.
When pressed for clarification as to whether Pelosi believes it is time to invoke the 25th Amendment, she declined to provide an explicit answer but hinted the discussion was tied to what she said was a lack of transparency from the White House over Trump’s health. The amendment delineates presidential succession and authorizes the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to declare a president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
“I’m not talking about it today except to tell you, if you want to talk about that, we’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “But you take me back to my point, Mr. President, when was the last time you had a negative test before you tested positive? Why is the White House not telling the country that important fact about how this made a hotspot of the White House?”
Pelosi announced later Thursday that she will unveil legislation on Friday with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a constitutional law expert, that would create a commission to determine whether a president is fit for office.
Raskin originally introduced legislation in 2017 — which did not get any legislative action since Republicans controlled the House at the time — that would create an Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity comprised of physicians, psychiatrists and retired public officials like former presidents and Cabinet secretaries. Congressional leaders would be responsible for naming members of the commission.
The 25th Amendment states that the vice president and a majority of either the president’s Cabinet “or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can declare that they believe a president cannot fulfill his or her official duties.
Trump announced Friday that he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, with a slow drip of White House staffers, campaign aides and outside advisers announcing in subsequent days that they too had contracted the virus.
Reports surfaced Thursday that 34 White House staffers and "other contacts" have been infected with the coronavirus in recent days.
Trump spent four days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from Friday to Monday to receive treatment for the coronavirus, where he received various therapeutics including does of Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug.
He was also placed on supplemental oxygen at times during his treatment.
He returned to the White House Monday but faced criticism after he left the residence Tuesday to work in the Oval Office, interacting with other staffers while he may still be contagious.
The president’s doctors have briefed the media on a number of occasions and released several memos providing updates on Trump’s health, including detailing the types of medication he’s taken. Wednesday the White House physicians reported that the president had been asymptomatic for 24 hours.
But White House physician Sean Conley has also been criticized for skirting some questions regarding Trump's health, including questions about whether the president was administered oxygen, when his last negative test was and whether the president had been held in a negative pressure room, among other things.
Trump has released a string of videos on Twitter in recent days saying that he feels significantly better since he began his treatment. He said Thursday morning in an interview on Fox Business that, “I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong.”
Pelosi has repeatedly needled Trump with biting attacks in the past, at one point calling him “morbidly obese” in May, leading the president to fire back that the speaker is “sick.”
When asked a short time later during an interview on Bloomberg TV if she believed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had the authority to negotiate a pandemic aid package on Trump's behalf, Pelosi said, "The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now."
"But that doesn't mean that we would not try to narrow the differences," she added.
Raskin told The Hill last week, following Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis, that he's planning to update his bill, which he first unveiled while Republicans controlled the House and therefore did not get any legislative action.
"I've got my 25th Amendment legislation from the last Congress, H.R. 1987, which I'm going to be dusting off and reintroducing," Raskin said.