I’ve been curious enough lately to take a look at the current state of Presidential succession. Why? Just call it a feeling I have…
In grade school Civics class, we learned all about this. But that was many, many moons ago, and though I remembered the first four placements, I had no idea who currently holds the office of President Pro Tempore of the Senate. And really, after that, all I remembered was “secretary of something”. So since I was doing the research anyway, I decided to share it.
The following list gives both the position and the name of the person holding that position in the succession (and a wee bit more information I found).
Red for Republicans who are currently caught up at least tangentially in the #TrumpRussia scandal and are under investigation. (Notated as R/U)
Black for other Republicans, along with notations of any scandals I’ve found in which they were directly involved.
Purple for Republicans who seem to have no involvement in political scandals at all.
Blue for the two Democrats still holding positions until Trump nominees are confirmed: I was unable to find any scandals associated with their names.
Green for the Department Heads I was unable to find a party affiliation for. Note that neither of these gentlemen has any scandal I could find attached to his name.
Here we go:
1. Vice President Pence (R/U)
2. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R/U)
3. President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (R)
4. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R/U)
5. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R/U)
6. Defense Secretary James Mattis (R/U)
7. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R/U)
8. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (R) (previous scandals, multiple; possible involvement in Trump/Russia now coming to light)
9. Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse (D) (Trump nominee: Sonny Perdue, involved in land deal scandal, but also investigated GA school cheating scandal)
10. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (R/U)
11. Acting Labor Secretary Ed Hugler (D) (Trump nominee: Alexander Acosta, DOJ racism scandal, linked to Jeffrey Epstein pedophile scandal)
12. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (R/U) (corruption scandals, multiple)
13. HUD Secretary Ben Carson (R)
14. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (McConnell) (R) (Wells Fargo scandal)
15. Energy Secretary Rick Perry (R) (abuse of power scandal)
16. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (R) (Probably plagiarized answers to Congress)
17. Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin (N/R)
18. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (N/R)
Some further thoughts:
I have no real quibble with Orrin Hatch, though I’m not a big fan of his politics. Hatch is a mature statesman who understands how the government works and that the President is not the “boss” of the country. He could probably do a decent job. BUT…
As of today, Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House. His involvement in the #TrumpRussia election scandal is flimsy right now, though evidence seems to be piling up against him; it’s been reported that he used information closely identified as belonging to the DNC in his own campaign. And there are some questions arising as to whether a SuperPAC he consistently calls “my SuperPAC” was actively involved.
Now, with the ignominious failure of the ACHA bill (aka TrumpCare), many in politics feel his time as SoH is limited. Many are also positing that it will be next to impossible for the Republicans, who are split into so many camps, to come to a consensus on whom the next Speaker will be. I’m not sure what happens if there’s no Speaker of the House.
Incidentally, I read an interesting article that proposed a coalition of Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans (who may by now be disenchanted with Trump’s ham-fisted executive orders and irresponsible tweets); it posited that the coalition could conceivably result in the election of a moderate Democrat, like Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff, as the new Speaker. Should that occur, and should the current investigations pull down both Trump and Pence, we might yet wind up with a Democratic President, which is what the majority of people voted for in the first place.
Pipe dream? Probably, but without dreams, where would we be?
Note: If you know of any changes that should be made, please let me know and I’ll adjust the list – I want it to be as accurate as possible, whether that means adding something or taking it away.
Note also that there are only two women on the list and one is Mitch McConnell’s wife. Wonder why that is?