Some Democrats are holding out hope that the Russia investigation yields actionable results which would cause Donald Trump to either resign from office, or be removed by impeachment. Taking that a few steps further, one constitional law professor has laid out a path which would remove Trump, and eventually work down the chain to install a President Hillary Clinton in his place.
Newsweek has summarized these five simple steps that seem totally plausible if the planets align, pigs fly, and Trump gives up twitter:
Here’s how constitutional law expert Lessig lays it out:
If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.
If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.
If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.
If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.
If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
Alright, let’s play along with the game. Let’s say we get to step number 3, for example. Does anyone really believe that unless Pence is tarnished that he would simply resign? I’m certain he would stay put since that is how the typical succession would go. The professor argues that Pence garnered equal advantage from any Russian meddling since he’s the sitting VP, and he didn’t get there unless Trump won, and in this scenario, Trump won because of Russia. So, therefore, the professor thinks Pence would resign.
I think the buck will stop at step 3, but let’s proceed. Let’s say Trump resigns, and then Pence assumes the presidency. He would have to select a VP, and then that VP would be next in line. But alright, let’s say Pence assumes the presidency and resigns immediately leaving Paul Ryan as President Ryan.
Surely, if that happens, Paul Ryan wouldn’t be resigning or going anywhere. Republicans would not simply give up the executive branch. In fact, most Republicans would probably fight tooth and nail to keep Pence in place, but they’d surely fight harder for Ryan. In fact, there are several Republicans, mostly in the Senate, who loathe Donald Trump enough that they’d probably prefer he did step down and give it to Pence or Ryan.
So even following those scenarios, the stretch to get to Pence as president is long, and the stretch to get to Ryan as president is even longer. But beyond that, the stretch from Paul Ryan to a President Hillary Clinton may be a bridge too far.
If the Trump-Pence-Ryan trifecta doesn’t happen, Hillary can always run again in 2020, despite what she says.