There is no evidence whatsoever that Mike Pence and the cabinet are considering invoking the 25th Amendment and removing Donald Trump from office. But don’t tell that to Trump, who is suddenly putting an awful lot of focus into making moves that directly impact the 25th Amendment math. In fact Trump seems so intently focused on these moves, it’s enough to make us think that he thinks the 25th Amendment is coming.
From the start, it felt like Trump constructed his cabinet with 25th Amendment math in mind. He filled most of the positions with people he expected would be personally loyal to him, while only giving a handful of cabinet jobs to people he had no personal connection to. That wasn’t surprising, as it’s long been reported that Steve Bannon was trying to warn Trump about the 25th Amendment from day one. But it’s no longer clear that the cabinet math would work in his favor if Pence did try to make a move, and someone seems to have brought this to Trump’s attention.
The first move was when Trump abruptly fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson two weeks ago. Trump and Tillerson had never even met when Trump offered him the job. Trump seemed to have been banking on Tillerson’s personal relationship with Vladimir Putin to keep him loyal. But the minute Rex began speaking up publicly against Putin, Trump fired him. Then Trump replaced him with one of his biggest loyalists, Mike Pompeo. This move hurt Trump on some level, because Pompeo had been running interference on Trump’s behalf as CIA Director. But it seemed Trump was just that eager to get a loyalist into his cabinet.
Now Donald Trump has fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and replaced him with his personal military physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson. We know Jackson is corrupt enough to have lied about Trump’s height and weight during a physical. Trump seems to have taken that as a sign that Jackson is personally loyal to him. So sure enough, Trump has removed two people from his cabinet who aren’t personally loyal to him in the past two weeks, and replaced them with two people he believes will side with him no matter what.
It’s worth watching what comes next. It feels like Donald Trump is focused on reloading his cabinet with personal loyalists, even though that does him no practical good on a day-to-day basis, simply to fend off 25th Amendment math. If Trump fires yet another cabinet member in favor of yet another loyalist, then there will be little question what’s really going on here. Does Trump know something we don’t about what Mike Pence might be planning, or is he just that paranoid?