Mike Pence Then Nancy Pelosi to Serve as Acting President if Trump Unable to Perform Duties

Should President Donald Trump become unable to fulfil his duties following his and first lady Melania Trump's positive COVID-19 diagnoses, Vice President Mike Pence would be in line to fill the role of acting president, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The president has announced that he and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus, and have begun to isolate as a result.

Following his diagnosis, Trump's physician, Sean Conley, released a statement which said that the president will "continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering."

Should there come a point when the president is unable to carry out those duties, the 25th amendment to the Constitution accounts for a contingency plan for the continuation of leadership in the White House.

Under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, the president can inform Congress, through the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House, in a written declaration that he is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

The section reads: "Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President."

This might happen if he were in good enough health at a point to know this situation would occur, perhaps due to upcoming treatments he might need to treat an illness.

Under Section 4, if the president were too sick to invoke Section 3, the vice president, along with a majority of the Cabinet, can inform Congress the president is unable to carry out his role.

In both instances, the vice president would undertake the role of acting president until the president were able to say he is ready to fulfil his duties once again.

In the circumstance that Pence were also to become unable to fulfil the role, Pelosi as speaker of the House would be able to quit that position to then undertake it, under the scope of the Presidential Succession Act 1947.

Trump has previously said it would be a "total disaster" if this were to happen.

In each of these circumstances, the person assuming the role of acting president is taking on the powers of the presidency—though not completely assuming the position of president.

Trump would remain in office in any such time, though with his powers divested to the surrogate performing the duties as acting president.

Newsweek has contacted the White House, the vice president's office and Pelosi for comment.

Following the confirmation of the president and first lady being infected, Pence tweeted: "Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania."

Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania.

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) October 2, 2020

Announcing his and the first lady's test results, Trump tweeted: "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

The first lady wrote: "We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together."

pence trump
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony and meeting with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti in the Oval Office of the White House on September 4, 2020. Pence would stand in for the president in the event he is unable to fulfil his duties. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images