As formal impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump are underway, many are speculating about the possible developments that could result from the process. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that she is aware of the possibility that she will lose control of the House in 2020 — she claims to be fine with that scenario — others believe that it’s possible Pelosi could end up as president.
In a Monday column for The Washington Post, writers Robert Atkins and Adam Frankel focused on that scenario, which would occur if both Trump and current Vice President Mike Pence were removed from office. In the piece, they parallel the current situation to when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, leaving Richard Nixon as president without a partner. In this case, Nixon’s resignation or impeachment would have lead to the third successor to the presidency: House Speaker Carl Albert.
During the fallout from Agnew’s resignation, Ted Sorensen, a speechwriter and adviser to former president John F. Kennedy, wrote a memo to Albert outlining his recommendations on moving forward if Nixon left office before the confirmation of Agnew’s successor, Gerald Ford. According to Atkins and Frankel, this memo could be used as a “roadmap” for the current situation in the White House.
“No matter who succeeds this president, or when, the Sorensen memo is a road map to restoring the dignity, integrity and basic function of the nation’s highest office. The chaos created by the current occupant’s heedless, indulgent and volatile leadership — if it can be considered ‘leadership’ — calls for attention to the national interest and preparation to avoid the kinds of hasty, unwise judgments and actions that can result in catastrophic mistakes.”
Pelosi: “The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry. Clearly, the Congress must act.” pic.twitter.com/DzbIL04ApZ
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 25, 2019
The impeachment proceedings against Trump stem from his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, the leader of Ukraine, in which he pressured Zelensky to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. According to Trump’s critics, Trump was attempting to use military aid as leverage and, thus, bribing Zelensky. Others, such as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, suggest that Trump’s mention of military aid before asking for a “favor” may have been a reflection of his fragmentary thinking as opposed to a veiled quid pro quo.
“If you see Trump as a calculating gangster, this reads like a veiled quid pro quo,” he tweeted, adding that the alternative perception is Trump speaking on the unrelated things he was thinking at the moment.
Shapiro nevertheless condemned Trump’s behavior, calling it “ugly and inappropriate.”