Donald Trump’s Presidency Is Dangling by a Thread

Late Friday afternoon, news broke that President Donald Trump was going to be transported from the White House, where he and First Lady Melania Trump had both begun quarantining upon receiving positive coronavirus diagnoses on Thursday, to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for an experimental antibody infusion treatment as a “precautionary measure.”

That alone is bizarre. If an unapproved, unproven drug is safe and effective enough to administer to a president, why is it unavailable for anyone else? The People deserve an explanation for this and has the right to know the truth about Trump’s status.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a brief 18-second video posted to Twitter, Trump addressed the nation before departing the White House.

“I wanna thank everybody for tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out,” Trump said. “The First Lady is doing very well. So thank you very much, I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.

Marine One waited for the president to board for nearly an hour, fueling speculation that things inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are, to put it mildly, not good.

The BBC had reported that Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” and is “fatigued but in good spirits.”

Incredibly, it was four years ago today that Trump knocked Democrat Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential race, for having contracted pneumonia.

“But here’s a woman, she’s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can’t make it 15 feet to her car,” Trump told reporters at the time. “Give me a break.”

In a statement, the White House did its best to reassure an antsy public that the president is fine.

“President Trump remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days. President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the First Lady.”

No need to panic though, the White House is saying.

“We’re having to hold him back a little here because he is hard at work,” McEnany told Fox News. “It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing and hearing from the president as he moves forward with his working schedule.”

Take it from me – a survivor of a severe case of Ulcerative Colitis – being sick is a full-time job, and so is taking care of a special needs patient – especially when that person is the leader of the free world.

Can Trump discharge the duties of his office from a hospital bed, distracted by tests, treatments, and conversations with doctors? More broadly, can a president in medical quarantine do his or her job?

If Trump’s condition deteriorates and he becomes too sick to work, a few potential scenarios emerge: 1) he temporarily transfers power to Pence, who then serves as acting president until Trump recovers, 2) Trump is removed from office via 25th Amendment to the Constitution (this is, in my opinion, highly unlikely), or 3) Trump dies, meaning that Pence would automatically be sworn in as the 46th president.

Vice President Mike and Second Lady Karen Pence both tested negative for the virus.

Per the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, Pence would take over if Trump could no longer serve. The Speaker of the House is next in the presidential line of succession after Pence. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tested negative for coronavirus on Friday and is in good health.

Who, therefore, would face off against former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, on November 3, if Trump is not serving as president on that date? Trump, should he bounce back, would still be at the top of the ticket, and could, in theory, survive, run for reelection, and exploit defeating COVID-19 to appeal to voters. But what if he is unable to participate in the campaign? Are voters that patient? How loyal are Trump’s supporters, and would they settle for voting for Pence?

So, with all that said: Who is running the American government? And how long can we, as a country, wait to find out, especially in the midst of a chaotic presidential election just 32 days away?

The president has gone from a functioning commander in chief to a high-risk symptomatic 74-year-old COVID-19 patient in fewer than 24 hours – not exactly an inspiring look for an optics-obsessed Trump – and the current tinderbox volatility in American politics could make an already confusing and lengthy delay in a transfer of power untenable.

Even if Trump makes a full recovery, his first term as president may not be salvageable. In fact, it could already be finished.

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