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The 25th Amendment conversations show ‘how serious the situation has become’: Former Mitt Romney 2012 Policy Adviser

Congress has confirmed Joe Biden's election win after a mob invaded the Capitol. Hoover Institution Fellow and Former Mitt Romney 2012 Policy Adviser Lanhee Chen joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: I want to bring in our next guest, who has some experience here in navigating some of these complex political issues. That would be Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution Fellow and former policy director for the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign, joins us again. And Lanhee, it's good to be chatting with you today.

I mean, when we talk about the pressure here now mounting, Senator Romney is a good example of those within the Republican camp who are really coming at this with a principled view. You heard Jessica there discussing the route of going the 25th Amendment here. It seems, at one point, it was just a liberal hope, you know, a long shot by many accounts.

But what do you see happening playing out here as President Trump, again, is going to still be in office for another almost two weeks here? So how do you see it playing out?

LANHEE CHEN: Yeah, I think there will be conversation about this in media circles. I think you actually did hear one Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who has also frequently expressed pretty principal points of view regarding President Trump, calling for invocation of the 25th Amendment. It would be quite a remarkable thing to do that.

The 25th Amendment, of course, allows the vice president, working with a majority of Cabinet officials, to declare the president unfit to govern, and therefore, for the vice president to assume governing responsibilities. I don't see that happening necessarily. I think there will be conversation about it, as I said, in some circles. And certainly, more people are willing to consider it now than, let's say, 48 hours ago.

But I think the flip side of this is people say, look, Trump's got 48 hour-- 48-- excuse me, he's got two weeks in office left. And he has already promised now the orderly transition of power. I think most people would probably say, you know, you hang on for two weeks and Joe Biden takes over.

But the fact that we're having this conversation, Zack, in this way, you know, with the level of seriousness, it's not just sort of, like, some kind of fringe joke. The fact that we're having this conversation indicates how serious the situation has become.

AKIKO FUJITA: And Lanhee, when you say you don't see this happening, as in invoking the 25th Amendment, is that because of the timeline that you just laid out there with just two weeks to go until the transition of power? Or because you don't think the case for that is strong enough?

LANHEE CHEN: I think it has more to do with the timeline and the political reality, Akiko. The political reality is Trump's own executive officers, his own appointees would have to make this determination along with the vice president. It's one thing for the vice president, as he did yesterday, he stood for the rule of law, stood for the Constitution, said, look, there's nothing I can do to subvert the will of the American people and change the electoral outcome.

It's one thing for him to say that. It's one thing for Cabinet officials to affirm that there has to be an orderly transition of power. Quite another for Cabinet officials to come together in a majority and affirmatively certify that the president is unfit to serve. I just don't see that happening politically.

And I do think another part of this is people say, look, it's two weeks. I think it'd be a very different calculation if this had happened maybe in mid-November right after the election, for example. But at this point, I just don't see it happening. I don't see the forces coming together to make this align and happen in the way it has to for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and Lanhee, in terms of where we go now, obviously, there are still a lot of questions about why this even happened in the first place in terms of the security protocols that may not have been followed to kind of set up protection around this event. And we'll get into that in a second. But I'm just curious to get your take on kind of the political ramifications of all this too.

Because even after what unfolded yesterday, you still had those Republicans loyal to President Trump pushing through the procedural process of maybe challenging these election results, setting up for what might be continued Trumpism without even Trump at the helm here when you look at Ted Cruz and some of the other Republicans there as well. Are you surprised by that happening? Or is that kind of just the expectation that now that the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, that this is going to be the expectation for political cycles to come?

LANHEE CHEN: Well, I think, first of all, a number of Republicans who continue to move ahead with the challenges, you know, they had made their political decision. That was the hill they were going to die on, so to speak. And they had decided to tie their fates to those of the president. And they didn't feel they could go back.

Now, a few members of Congress did. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington in the House, Kelly Loeffler, the recently defeated Georgia Senator, they decided to change course. But you're talking about people, like, let's just say Ted Cruz, for example, someone who we know probably wants to run for president again, believes politically that having the favor of those who support President Trump is going to be important to him.

I mean, it's just a political reality of how these people behave. I know that that's perhaps a relatively coarse-sounding analysis. But I think at the end of the day, that really explains a lot of this, which is wanting to cozy up to the Trump base, wanting to cozy up to people instead of, as Senator Romney said, telling them the truth.

That this was a-- you know, this was an effort to subvert a popularly elected president of the United States. And I think that is something we'll have to see how it plays out politically. But that explains the dynamic yesterday.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, for sure. And there's a lot more to get into here. But Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution Fellow, former policy director of the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign, appreciate you coming on here to chat today.