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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Martin Pengelly in Washington

Republican cites 25th amendment in bid to remove ‘too old’ Biden from office

President Joe Biden
Joe Biden. ‘You got to take a look at the other guy, he’s about as old as I am, but he can’t remember his wife’s name,’ he said on Monday. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A Colorado Republican introduced a congressional resolution calling for Kamala Harris to invoke the 25th amendment to the US constitution and remove Joe Biden because he is too old.

The resolution from the US House member Ken Buck has little chance of success.

John Dean, who was White House counsel under Richard Nixon, the president who resigned under pressure from his own party, said: “Just when you think there may be a few normal Republicans, you discover they are all crazy.

“This man [Buck] is leaving public office. He is the person with the cognitive problem not Joe Biden.”

Section four of the 25th amendment provides for the replacement, by the vice-president, of a president deemed incapable. It has never been used. Calls for its use intensified in 2021, after the deadly January 6 attack on Congress, which Donald Trump incited in an attempt to stay in the Oval Office.

Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, rejected a House resolution. Just one Republican, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, backed it.

Buck, 65, contends that Biden – at 81, only three and a half years older than Trump, his probable challenger for re-election – has become mentally incapable.

The vice-president, Buck’s resolution said, should “convene and mobilise the principal officers of the executive departments of the cabinet to activate section four of the 25th amendment to declare President Joseph R Biden incapable of executing the duties of his office”.

Biden, Buck’s resolution says, “has been televised wandering aimlessly at events … frequently speaks publicly in an incoherent and indiscernible manner [and] has repeatedly fallen while walking up stairs”.

Trump has been televised wandering aimlessly, speaking incoherently and struggling to maintain balance.

Buck’s resolution also cites controversial observations by the special counsel Robert Hur in his report on Biden’s retention of classified information, about the president’s age and mental capacity.

Experts said Hur was wrong to cast doubt on Biden’s abilities while declining to charge. Trump faces 40 charges related to his own retention of classified information, lodged by another special counsel, Jack Smith.

Buck’s resolution also cites verbal mistakes by Biden, including mixing up the presidents of Mexico and Egypt.

Trump’s gaffes are just as familiar. Last week, he appeared to get his wife’s name wrong at the CPAC conference.

“You got to take a look at the other guy, he’s about as old as I am, but he can’t remember his wife’s name,” Biden told the NBC host Seth Meyers on Monday.

Set to retire this year, Buck is a stringent conservative but has nonetheless rejected Trump’s claims of election fraud. He has expressed skepticism about Republicans’ attempt to impeach Biden over alleged corruption, saying he did not think “tit-for-tat” impeachments were a good idea. But he defended Trump against an attempt to remove him from the ballot in Colorado, for inciting an insurrection.

In a statement about his resolution, Buck said: “The Hur report officially addressed what many Americans have long witnessed with their own eyes – that President Biden is no longer fit to successfully discharge the critical duties of his office.

“Numerous instances were articulated in the report, and have played out in full public view, showing President Biden’s apparent cognitive decline and lack of mental stamina.”

Biden was the oldest president ever inaugurated and would be 86 by the end of a second term. Polling shows majorities of voters believe he is too old. The White House has pushed back aggressively on the matter.

On Monday, Biden told NBC the election would be about “about how old your ideas are”, and he said Trump “wants to take us back”.

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