What happens if Trump is incapacitated
May 19, 2020 - President Trump says he is taking a malaria drug to protect against the coronavirus, despite warnings of potentially fatal side effects.
Trials have suggested that the malarial drug hydroxychloroquine can cause serious heart problems. Researchers said that patients taking the medication with the antibiotic azithromycin were more likely to experience cardiac arrest than those who received one or neither of the therapies.
Trump is reportedly taking both medications and started about two weeks ago after one of his valets tested positive for coronavirus. Two days later, on May 8, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller – the wife of Trump’s aide Stephen Miller – also tested positive. Three members of the White House coronavirus task force are also in quarantine for 14 days.
While neither leader has subsequently tested positive for the virus, the possibility of the incapacitation of both Trump or Pence at the same time could lead to a full-blown constitutional crisis with competing claims on the presidency.
The Constitution’s 25th Amendment allows Trump to hand over control to the vice president and then reclaim it as soon as he declares himself well again.
George H. W. Bush briefly became acting president after the failed assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1985, and George W. Bush did this twice during his presidency.
If both the president and vice president were to become incapacitated the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 puts the speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, next in line for the presidency.
At the White House on May 18, Trump said his doctor did not recommend hydroxychloroquine to him, but that he requested it from the White House physician.
“I started taking it because I think it’s good,” Trump said. “I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”
Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine with an “original dose” of the antibiotic azithromycin. The president has repeatedly advocated the use of the malarial drug, but no extensive, rigorous studies have found them safe or effective for preventing or treating Covid-19.
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