Now that news is circulating about the spread of COVID-19 within the White House, there is a lot of commentary taking place. Aides close to the president and the vice president have both fallen ill. Bill Kristol is leading a nasty bit of speculation now. He believes that there is a scenario where Nancy Pelosi could end up becoming president.
Straightforward from here:
* President Trump has to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to coronavirus, can’t fulfill duties of presidency in quarantine, steps down.
* VP Pence has to self-quarantine, can’t fulfill duties of vice presidency, steps down.
* President Pelosi.😉
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 9, 2020
If Trump and Pence are both taken down by COVID-19, Pelosi may get her chance at long last. Meanwhile, there are others who are hoping for a more permanent power transition these days. All of this type of speculation seems fairly crass when you stop to think about the fact that neither of these men have been infected yet.
That is not going to stop the Democrats or the never Trump Republicans. Trump and Pence have not even shown a symptom yet but they are already devising all sorts of plans. Seth Cohen is a Forbes writer who decided to walk readers through the process of Pelosi becoming president for a brief period of time.
— Seth Cohen (@sethacohen33) May 11, 2020
Cohen was even willing to admit that there is no immediate reason to believe that either of them are in danger. So why would you continue to speculate? It’s in poor taste but that is not going to stop anyone from talking about. While its only natural to wonder about this, its not like Pelosi should be heading to the Oval Office anytime soon.
Cohen: …While nobody has immediate reason to believe that either of our nation’s top two leaders will be infected or would face the same difficult recovery as Prime Minister Johnson, it is possible that if both men were concurrently incapacitated as a result of infection there would need to be a third person to take over the reins of government, even if for an interim period.
That person would be the current Speaker of the House, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
Is this at all likely? In these uncertain times nothing can be ruled out. But there is some irony that the President who was elected over the nation’s first major party woman candidate would nonetheless have a role in the elevation of the nation’s first woman president, even if just for a short window of time.
And in a spring that has defied all imagination, that might just be the most unimaginable event of all.”
These types of scenarios are as far fetched as they come. They tend to come across as death related fantasizing. We are living in uncertain times and there is always going to be a sizable amount of speculation as moments like these. Even Trump supporters have to admit that there is a sizable amount of irony taking place here.
“The White House’s internal challenge with coronavirus has brought the official presidential line of succession into the forefront.
According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the line of succession would go from President Trump to Vice President Mike Pence to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Constitution states that “in Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.”
Trump himself was responsible for blocking the path of the first female president. Now, he may need to step aside and allow the first female president to lead while he is in quarantine. This spring has already defied all logic and maybe a Pelosi presidential stint would be the cherry on top of this ridiculous sundae.
The White House must do everything in their power to keep their officials safe. When even Trump’s personal driver is infected, this calls their usual tactics into question. They are doing the best that they can in the meantime. Every White House staffer is tested each day, masks are used and no one is allowed to enter the Oval Office unless they have tested negative.
As for anyone who is doubting Pelosi’s chances, it has all been laid out in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If anything happens to Trump and Pence, she’s next up. What if something happens to Pelosi, though? From there, the line of succession lands on Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley (Republican-Iowa).
…An analogous situation could soon arise with the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, now codified at 3 U.S.C. § 19. Imagine, as it is easy to do, that President Trump and Vice President Pence die or are temporarily unable to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President due to infection by the coronavirus. The 1947 statute says that in that circumstance, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “shall … act as President” after resigning as speaker and from Congress. Pelosi would wield all the powers of the presidency. Consistent with the law, she could issue whatever executive orders she wanted, fire disfavored political appointees, and in general direct the executive branch as she pleased.
Whether this scenario is a nightmare or salvation may seem to depend on one’s political outlook. But in truth it’s a nightmare scenario for all Americans because there is a powerful (though not airtight) argument that the Succession Act’s placement of the speaker in the line of presidential succession (and after her, the president pro tempore of the Senate) is contrary to the Constitution’s Succession Clause. That clause states that only an “Officer” may succeed and act as president. Most of the pertinent commentary maintains that the term “Officer” here does not include members of Congress. If that is right, Pelosi could not constitutionally “act as President,” even though the statute says she can.
But who would decide the controversy? Imagine that Pelosi declares herself acting president after Trump and Pence become incapacitated. And imagine that, at the same time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (the executive officer next in line under the statute) declares himself acting president on the basis of a legal opinion from Attorney General William Barr proclaiming legislative succession to the presidency unconstitutional. How would the matter be resolved? The answer, as we discuss below, is unclear. The nation could thus be deeply divided, in a hard-to-resolve way, on the very basic question: Who is the (acting) president of the United States?…
Mike Pompeo is the Secretary of State and he is next up after Grassley. There are questions about a potential transition, though. Things would not be as simple for Pelosi as the Democrats would like to think. She would have the powers that any president would have, even if the position was only temporary. That does not mean that she would have the ability to do whatever she wants.
On the other hand, the statute says that only someone who is known as an “Officer” can assume the role. Pelosi does not have this title and would struggle to become president on an interim basis. It’s quite the controversy and we find ourselves wondering who would be responsible for deciding it. Other people in the line of succession could decide to declare themselves president and there’s not much that could be done about it.
The White House is trying its best to avoid the nightmare scenario by making sure that Trump and Pence are kept separate as much as possible. Until they are given the go-ahead, they are not going to be able to spend much time together. We hope that they stay healthy, so that we do not have to confront the reality of a Nancy Pelosi presidency. They need to do everything in their power to stay healthy!
NEW on Pres Trump & VP: A senior WH official tells me, "The president & the vp, are maintaining their distance for the immediate future based on consultation with WH medical…They are keeping their distance. But, as needed, they could perhaps interact, if that’s required."
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 12, 2020
Say Pence tests positive and gets crook for a week or two?
And say the same happens to Trump at the same time?
Under the US Constitution, does that not make Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, ummmmm, "President Pelosi"?
Has a certain ring to it? https://t.co/NUgGAHjtUO
— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) May 11, 2020
Close aides to Trump and Pence coming down with Covid nearly simultaneously is how we get President Pelosi.
— Josh Chafetz (@joshchafetz) May 8, 2020
All jokes aside, we are sure that the White House will do everything that needs to be done. A White House infection was inevitable and as long as they take all of the proper steps going forward? We should be fine. It’s nice to know how close we are to the edge, though. President Pelosi does not have a very nice ring to it, if we are being totally honest.