The 4 Minute Gap?

Jan 21, 2009 1:18pm

ABC News’ John Cochran reports: Was Joe Biden, who had already taken his oath before noon Tuesday, president for about 4 minutes until Barack Obama took his oath after noon? No, according to a Supreme Court Justice who spoke to ABC News with the proviso that he not be identified. (Well, now you know it was not Ruth Bader Ginsburg). The Justice said Obama became president at noon. But, said the Justice, Obama had no authority to carry out his duties until he took the oath at 12:04 pm. So, for about four minutes he was a president with no legal power, noted the Justice who impressively whipped out the relevant Constitutional language from his coat pocket to prove his point. And indeed, when we later took a closer look at the U.S. Constitution, we found: "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’" Of course, we know that Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts botched slightly the reading of that oath.   So does that cast into doubt the legality of the Obama presidency? No, said the Justice who spoke to us: "They stumbled a bit but it was close enough."

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