In breaking news Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19.
UPDATE: Kids now asleep so have time to elaborate more.
Some have noted that there are a lot of people wishing ill well on Trump. I’m not one of them. I want him to recover and lose.
But it is fair to note the difference between a political leader being struck with something which he has no control over and something he had lots of control over.
If Trump was say hit by lightening in a freak accident, then anyone who celebrates that is ghoulish.
But Covid-19 infectiousness is not a freak accident. Good public health measures can massively reduce its spread. And just a few weeks ago he was mocking Joe Biden for wearing a mask so much.
And he has spent months talking down the pandemic and refusing to do even basic stuff (such as promoting a clear public health message), which is partly why the US has over 200,000 deaths. In fact just six hours ago he said:
So while no-one should celebrate anyone getting sick, there is a certain amount of karma when someone who spent months sneering at public health measures such as mask wearing, then gets the very virus he downplayed as a risk.
An analogy would be if a person who is a campaigner against wearing seat belts in cars, then got injured in an accident because he or she wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
Anyway I hope Trump recovers. He may not even be particularly sick from it. But it is worth looking at scenarios, if he does get seriously ill.
If Trump did become seriously ill and was unable to perform his duties, he could under the 25th amendment having Mike Pence become Acting President.
Some have speculated about what would happen if Pence also had Covid-19. Well again just being in isolation doesn’t mean you can’t be Acting President. In the very unlikely event that both Trump and Pence were so sick they couldn’t perform the duties of President, then under the Presidential Succession Act Nancy Pelosi would become the Acting President, so long as she resigned her seat in the House and her Speakership.
If for some reason Pelosi did not want to resign as Speaker, then the President pro tem of the Senate would be the Acting President. That is Senator Chuck Grassley. He is 87 years old.
These scenarios are unlikely.
Another scenario people have asked about is what happens if Trump did die from Covid-19. This is somewhat ghoulish but as the fatality rate for people his age is 8.6%, it is not miniscule. His odds would be lower as he would have the best healthcare treatment possible available to him.
Mike Pence would obviously become the President. But voting has already started in some states, so it would be complicated. The RNC could appoint him as the new candidate under emergency powers. But in some states voting has started, so Trump’s name would remain on the ballot.
But thanks to the Electoral College, it wouldn’t matter that much. In states won by Pence, the electors to the Electoral College would vote for him, even if it was Trump’s name on the ballot paper. So Pence would be elected President if they won a majority in the electoral college.
What would not be clear is who would be Vice-President. If Pence nominated someone before the election, then again the GOP electoral college delegates would vote for that person. Or he could ask the electoral college not to elect anyone, and he would nominate a VP once he is sworn in, who would have to be confirmed by both the House and Senate.
But technically the Senate could elect a Vice-President directly, if there is no majority on the Electoral College for a VP, so most likely is Pence would nominate someone.
Again hopefully Trump doesn’t get seriously ill from it, and the election continues as normal. Of interest will be whether there is any change in the polls from this.