Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press briefing Thursday that House Democrats will hold a discussion Friday of the 25th Amendment, which details the constitutional rules for presidential succession, as President Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, and members of the Trump administration face charges they have withheld important information about his illness with Covid-19.
Pelosi did not say if she thinks it is time to invoke the 25th Amendment, which comes into play if the president is unable to conduct his “powers and duties” because of death, resignation or “inability,” but implied the impetus is the administration’s evasiveness about the president’s health.
At the press conference, Pelosi asked Trump to disclose when he last tested negative for coronavirus and why his administration has not told Americans “that important fact about how this made a hotspot of the White House.”
Pelosi is second in line to the presidency following Vice President Mike Pence.
What To Watch For
Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement that they will discuss a bill on Friday which would establish a Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office that would “enable Congress to help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government.”
Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution says the vice president assumes the “powers and duties” of president if the president is unable to because of death, resignation or “inability,” but it doesn’t say how “inability” is determined or how the role of vice president should be filled. Motivated by the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Congress sought to fill in those gaps with the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967. The Presidential Succession Act signed by President Harry Truman in 1947 outlines the order of succession should the president need to be replaced: first it is the vice president, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate president pro tempore and then a string of Cabinet members, starting with the secretary of state.
Conley has been evasive on multiple questions, including the timeline as to when Trump last tested negative, if he was given supplemental oxygen and the condition of his lungs. The White House has doubled down by refusing to share crucial information about how the outbreak at the White House flared up, its origins and when Trump and key individuals tested positive. Since Trump’s advisor Hope Hicks became the first case to become publicly known last week, 34 White House staffers and “other contacts” have contracted the virus, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News on Wednesday.