While Mnuchin is unlikely to pursue the option, the fact that the discussions of the 25th Amendment have reached senior Cabinet officials highlights the extraordinary fallout from the siege of the U.S. Capitol building. Mnuchin’s conversations about the subject went beyond just being asked about it by other people, one of the people said.
A Treasury Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.
The 25th Amendment gives the vice president, plus a majority of the Cabinet, the ability to remove the president from office if they determine he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Many people at the White House do not expect the effort to move forward, and Mnuchin is also not seen as likely to ultimately support such an effort.
The president’s encouragement of the mob that stormed the Capitol has led to several high-profile resignations, including those of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Mick Mulvaney, the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland; and Tyler Goodspeed, who was the sole member remaining of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Other senior White House officials have also quit in recent days.
At the Treasury Department, senior officials are in the middle of trying to oversee a hectic tax filing season, finalize regulations related to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and implement an enormously complicated $900 billion relief legislation as the economy reels from the coronavirus. Treasury officials are seen as less likely to resign than other administration officials in part because they have crucial administrative responsibilities at a perilous moment for the American economy, one former official said.
Although appalled by the president’s role in the events at the Capitol on Wednesday, several administration officials expressed strong skepticism that Pence and the Cabinet would seriously consider invoking the 25th Amendment. Senior Trump aides appear most likely to try to get the administration through the remaining two weeks of the president’s term in office.
One former White House senior aide, who resigned last year but remains in touch with current administration officials, downplayed the seriousness of the talk around the 25th Amendment, saying: “It’s not a realistic option.” The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with current senior White House officials.
The relationship between Mnuchin and Trump had already frayed markedly in recent weeks, starting with the president’s shocking denunciation last month of a $900 billion economic relief package that his treasury secretary had negotiated.
Mnuchin had spent months as the administration’s negotiator on the stimulus deal. The president denounced the deal as a “disgrace” and threatened to veto it only after Congress had already approved the measure in a humiliating public spectacle for the treasury secretary.
Mnuchin had long been one of Trump’s most loyal aides, helping shield his tax returns from disclosure to Congress and defending many of his most incendiary remarks.
“The violence that occurred last night at the Capitol in Washington D.C. was completely unacceptable. These actions are unacceptable and must stop,” Mnuchin said in remarks in Israel, according to Reuters. “Now is the time for our nation to come together as one and to respect the democratic process in the United States.”
Former treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers called on Mnuchin to resign after the events at the Capitol.
“There are very capable career civil servants who can manage the @USTreasury for 2 weeks,” Summers said on Twitter. “[Mnuchin] should do what he should have done after Charlottesville. Resign.”