- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2018

A volatile week in the nation’s capital produced a spike in 25th Amendment chatter as Democrats, celebrities and media figures discussed whether this time, President Trump really has to go.

The words “panic,” “crisis,” and “chaos” loomed large Sunday, driven by a series of explosive events including but not limited to the partial government shutdown, the decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and a stock-market nosedive.

Both NBC’s Chuck Todd and Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace asked guests whether they questioned Mr. Trump‘s fitness for office.

“Well, I can tell you one thing: He’s not behaving like he’s fit for office,” former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He’s behaving extremely erratically. He’s not giving the American people or our allies around the world any sense that there’s a rationale for the decisions that he’s making.”

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, voiced similar concerns.

“I can tell you every day, I question whether or not whether we can endure another two years,” he said.

Less measured were celebrities like John Cusack, who tweeted last week “Impeach—#25th Amendment,” and Nancy Sinatra, who declared, “He has to go. Can’t wait for Jan. 3rd. #25thAmendment.”

Mr. Trump “is unfit to be president. He has to go,” tweeted Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic rock star since his close-but-no-cigar bid for Florida governor in the midterm elections.

Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who served as President Bill Clinton’s drug czar, told CNN that Congress needs to provide oversight over “what increasingly looks like a rogue presidency.”

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney advised the naysayers to take a deep breath, chalking up the hullabaloo to what happens when a political outsider shakes up the Washington establishment.

The introductory segment “said it was chaos in Washington,” Mr. Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday.” “This is what Washington looks like when you have a president who refuses to sort of go along to get along.”

He compared the fight over a border wall, which precipitated the partial shutdown, to Mr. Trump‘s earlier battles over tax reform, federal deregulation, and trade.

“The fundamentals of the economy are still great. Yes, the stock market is down. We both know it goes up and down,” said Mr. Mulvaney. “Unemployment is still at historic lows. Capital investment still high. Business confidence is high. GDP is still solid. So, the fundamentals are still good.”

As far as Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, and other members of the House Freedom Caucus were concerned, the shutdown was a positive, given that it resulted from Mr. Trump‘s refusal to bow to Democrats on border wall funding.

“I was so proud of our president,” Mr. Gaetz said on Fox’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” “The establishment on both sides of the aisle wanted the president to take a bad deal, that didn’t have any funding for border security, but he was tough. He stood up to them.”

Still, all was not sanguine on the GOP side of the aisle. Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, predicted the next quarter will be pivotal in deciding whether Mr. Trump can make a viable bid for re-election in 2020.

“I think this next three months could well determine whether he decides to run again or not,” said Mr. Corker on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another frequent Republican critic of Mr. Trump, called the events of last week “very disturbing,” adding that it “concerns me a great deal.”

“It’s so much dysfunction,” Mr. Kasich said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I was just saying to one of the people with me this morning, as governor, what if my communications director, half of my cabinet or even significant numbers of my cabinet started to leave. It would create great chaos. We would have great difficulty getting anything done.”

The “chaos” theme is only expected to escalate as the 2020 presidential race heats up. Mr. Castro said he would make an announcement Jan. 12. Mr. Kasich said he was still weighing a bid, and Mr. Gillum has also been mentioned as a possible Democratic contender.

Former Rep. Leon Panetta, who served in the Clinton and Obama cabinets, said there was “too much chaos.”

“I’ve been in politics over 50 years, in a number of positions, and working under nine presidents,” Mr. Panetta said on “Fox News Sunday.” I’ve never seen a situation like this in which almost every important area that is key to this country is confronting crisis, or confronting crisis in terms of our national security.”

Given that House Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters are already talking impeachment, Mr. Todd predicted the president’s fate will be tied to Senate Republicans, who will “decide whether the president finishes his term or doesn’t, pure and simple.”

Mr. Mulvaney said the president’s unconventional style is what brought him into office, arguing that he is “not going to be an ordinary president, and that’s not what people wanted when they elected him.”

“Is it going to be a rocky road with the president who is willing to mix things up to change Washington to benefit folks back home?” asked Mr. Mulvaney. “Yes.”

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