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Legislation unveiled that would let Congress oust unfit US presidents

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi unveiled the legislation amid questions over Trump's health
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi unveiled the legislation amid questions over Trump's health   -   Copyright  AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Legislation has been unveiled in the US that would allow Congress to remove the president should he or she be unable to fulfil their duties in office.

Announcing the move, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted it was not about current president Donald Trump, but was due to the need for greater congressional oversight of his White House.

The legislation would create a commission outlined under the 25th Amendment, which has been brought up a number of times by opponents of Donald Trump who claim he is not fit for the office of the presidency.

Pelosi herself has been raising questions about Trump's mental fitness since his COVID-19 diagnosis and has demanded more transparency about his health.

What is the 25th amendment?

The 25th Amendment is a section in the US constitution that provides a temporary or permanent removal of the president from their position, and the succession, starting with the Vice President.

This could be due to death, resignation, or other circumstances where he or she is unable to carry out their duties as president.

It was originally passed by Congress and ratified in 1967 as a way to ensure a continuity of power in the aftermath of President John F Kennedy’s assassination.

It says the vice president and a majority of principal officers of the executive departments “or of such other body as Congress” may by law provide a declaration to Congress that the president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

“Let Congress exert the power the Constitution gave us,” Pelosi said on Friday standing before a poster of the amendment.

‘Not about Donald Trump’

“This is not about President Donald Trump — he will face the judgment of the voters,” Pelosi said at a press conference at the Capitol in Washington.

The move comes just weeks before the November presidential election.

Trump responded to the news on Twitter, claiming “Crazy Nancy Pelosi” wants to replace Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with Kamala Harris, his running mate.

The bill would set up a commission to assess the president's ability to lead the country and ensure continuity of government.

It comes one year after Pelosi's House launched impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Just weeks before the 3 November election, with no hope of the bill becoming law, the rollout was quickly dismissed as a stunt by Trump's allies.

“It's an absurd proposal,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News.

“Absolutely absurd,” said Senate Majority Leader McConnell during an appearance in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Trump back at work after COVID-19 treatment

Trump says he “feels great” after being hospitalized and is back at work in the White House.

But his doctors have given mixed signals about his diagnosis and treatment. Trump plans to resume campaigning soon.

The measure is highly unlikely to be passed as Congress is not currently in session.