‘No Truth at All’ to Removal Report: Reagan
President Reagan today declared there is “no truth at all” to reports that his aides considered removing him from office last year under provisions of the 25th Amendment because he seemed inattentive, inept and lazy during the Iran-Contra scandal.
The President’s four-word response, his only direct comment to a question about the controversy shouted at him, followed statements by his chief spokesman that a staff memo on the subject was “fiction” and represented the musings of disgruntled aides about to leave government.
White House aide James Cannon has said he brought up the subject in a 1987 memo to Howard H. Baker Jr., who was just taking over from Donald T. Regan as White House chief of staff. Cannon said he and Baker rejected the idea after observing Reagan.
The 25th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1967, provides the President may be removed if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet declare him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, talking to reporters at his daily briefing, said, “I saw the President every day, talked to him a lot. There’s nothing to this. This is fiction by staff people who for their own reasons chose to say this, and it was dismissed immediately by those who heard it. It was never taken seriously.”
Fitzwater said Reagan was aware of the Cannon report “and he takes it all in stride.”
Reflection on Staff
“It speaks more of the state of mind of some of the staff here (at the time) than it does of the President,” Fitzwater said.
“Cannon talked to a bunch of people who for all practical purposes had just been relieved of their duties,” the spokesman said.