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Who takes over the presidency if something happens to Donald Trump: COVID-19

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  • On Friday afternoon, the White House announced that President Trump would be transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center for further treatment after the president tested positive for COVID-19. 
  •  The US has created a long line of succession under the Presidential Succession Act to ensure the peaceful transfer of power under any circumstances.
  • Vice President Mike Pence, two members of Congress, and 14 cabinet officials are in Trump’s line of succession — see the full list here. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

What would happen if President Donald Trump were ever unable to perform the duties of the US President?

That once-remote possibility is becoming more urgent now that Trump and the First Lady have been diagnosed with COVID-19, a devastating virus that has infected over seven million Americans and killed over 200,000. 

On Friday afternoon, the White House announced that Trump would be transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center for further treatment and monitoring after testing positive for COVID-19 and showing symptoms including fever and cough. While the White House said the measure is simply precautionary, it represents a potentially concerning development for the president’s health. 

As a 74-year-old man who qualifies as medically obese, Trump is at a particularly high risk of experiencing serious complications from COVID-19.

 

In the event that the president ever resigns, gets impeached and removed from office, dies in office, or is otherwise incapable of serving, the US has created a long line of succession to ensure the peaceful transfer of power under any circumstances.

The Presidential Succession Act, first enacted in 1792 and most recently amended in 1947 at the dawn of the nuclear age, stipulates that the presidential line of succession goes down heads of Congress and then the president’s cabinet.

Under Trump, the line of succession includes Vice President Mike Pence, two members of Congress, and 14 cabinet officials. Of them, 15 are men and three are women, though one woman, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is a naturalized citizen who is included but ineligible to serve as president because she was born outside of the United States to non-American parents. 

While turnover in the role of US president remains extremely rare, the line provides political stability and military-grade redundancy should anything ever happen to the Commander in Chief. 

Here are the people currently in line to take over in place of Trump:

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