25th Amendment

Are We On The Way To President Paul Ryan?

With the growing evidence of Russian collusion and lying by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and many others in the administration, the possibility is growing of the first time in American history where the Speaker of the House of Representatives might become President by succession.

It could have happened in 1974 had there not been the 25th Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1967.

That amendment allowed for the appointment of Gerald Ford to replace Spiro Agnew, and within eight months of becoming Vice President, Ford became President.

If this had not been able to happen, there would have been no Vice President for ten months, and Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma would have become President, instead of Gerald Ford, when Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.

Ryan may very well have been aware of Russian collusion in the eyes of some observers, but unless that is proved to be so, he would become President if Mike Pence was forced out, and Donald Trump was forced out, and if there was no time to select a new Vice President under the 25th Amendment.

Ryan, not at all admired, and much criticized by this blogger in 2012, when he was the Vice Presidential nominee for Mitt Romney. would be a terrible successor, with his Ayn Rand libertarian philosophy, and his desire to privatize Medicare and Social Security, and end the concept of government assistance to the needy through Medicaid, Food Stamps, and aid to dependent children.

We are in a time frame where Donald Trump is a nightmare, but Mike Pence, with his overtly theocratic view of religion and government is a different nightmare, and Ryan is a third example of what horrible choices the nation faces from the results of the Presidential Election of 2016.

It will take decades to recover the damage already done, and the damage yet to be done.

Mike Pence And Spiro Agnew: Two Crooked Vice Presidents?

It is seemingly a possibility that Vice President Mike Pence could be involved in coverup of Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential Election, and that he has often lied about his involvement in that corrupt action.

Pence was the leader of the transition team for Donald Trump, and had to know about the illegal actions of Michael Flynn in that transition period, and in the 25 days that Flynn was National Security Adviser, before he was fired.

Pence is deeply enmeshed in the scandal that is being revealed by the investigation of Robert Mueller, and he may not survive to succeed Donald Trump, because he failed to keep himself separate from the emerging scandal.

This is very different than Gerald Ford, who insured by his words and actions that he could not be accused of any involvement in the Watergate Scandal under Richard Nixon.

Ford had replaced Spiro Agnew in the Vice Presidency under the 25th Amendment, with Agnew involved in conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud, having accepted payments from contractors during his time as Governor of Maryland and even the Vice Presidency itself, and resigned, having pleaded guilty to one felony charge of tax evasion.

So it could be that Mike Pence will go down in history as the second crooked Vice President forced out of office.

Pence is about to be interviewed by Robert Mueller, and Pence has had his own personal lawyer for months, so stay tuned as to what might happen that no one would ever have conceived when the Trump Presidency began.

The Reality: Mike Pence Likely To Become President

The situation Mike Pence faces as Vice President after less than a month in office is that he must be starting to realize that he will become President at some point during this term.

The same situation faced Gerald Ford in December 1973, when he became Vice President under the 25th Amendment, the first such use of that amendment just passed six years earlier.

Ford knew that Richard Nixon was in trouble, and Mike Pence knows Donald Trump is in trouble.

Both Ford then and now Pence must “walk on eggs”, and be careful about what they say and do, in order to avoid any untoward indications of interfering with the procedures used to judge whether the President they serve is someone who should be removed from office.

But at the end, it is likely that Mike Pence will feel a need to utilize Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, to remove Donald Trump from office as a danger to national security and stability, due to reckless and unstable behavior in the Oval Office.

Both Ford and Pence owed their elevations to the Vice Presidency to their Presidents, but just as Ford was prepared to take over the Presidency. so will Mike Pence be ready when the time is right. which is likely sometime later this first year of the Trump Presidency, which seems assured to be abbreviated to probably more than James A. Garfield (199 days) but much less than Zachary Taylor (492 days).

25 Days, And Major Scandal Which Brings Likely End Of Trump Presidency, And Mike Pence As 46th President Of The United States!

Only 25 days into the Trump Presidency, and already a scandal, and it is looking as if Donald Trump will be gone before the 199 days of James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881.

That would mean by August 7 that Trump will have left the White House.

It is six days until February 20, one month in office, the length of time of William Henry Harrison in the Presidency, before he died of pneumonia in 1841.

The Michael Flynn resignation as National Security Adviser puts Trump on the spot, as his “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with that of Flynn, endangers the national security interests of the United States.

Trump could be considered a traitor to the United States by many, and it seems very likely a move toward impeachment is likely in the short run.

It is also interesting that Vice President Mike Pence seems to have been the one to assert himself, and help to force Flynn out, so that is also a sign that Pence may be moving toward a possible challenge to his boss, which can be promoted by the 25th Amendment, Section 4, which I wrote about last month (January 22) on History News Network, with the article found on the right side of my blog.

One can now expect Mike Pence to be our 46th President of the United States before 2017 is over!

Is Mike Pence Able To “Do” A Gerald Ford? “Walk On Eggs” And Keep Legitimacy As A Future President?

43 Years ago, we had a flawed President, Richard Nixon, who was facing an impeachment crisis, as he had clearly violated the Constitution, and was on the way to an early end to his Presidency.

At that crisis moment, we had Gerald Ford, appointed by Nixon in October 1973 to replace the crooked Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who had been forced to resign. Nixon had chosen Ford over other more prominent figures—including John Connally, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller— and two lesser figures of prominence who were much younger—George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole—due to the reality that Gerald Ford was well liked by the opposition Democrats, who would have the balance of power in confirming the Vice Presidential replacement under the 25th Amendment.

Also, Nixon believed that although Ford was well liked as the House Minority Leader by Democrats, that no one thought that highly of Ford as to want to make him a future potential President.

It turns out that the nation was blessed that we had Gerald Ford replacing Agnew in December 1973, as Ford did a masterful job of “walking on eggs” for eight months, demonstrating some support for Nixon, but in a careful measured way, as to keep his basic neutrality, as he fully realized he was likely to become the next President.

In 1998-1999, we know that Vice President Al Gore visited former President Gerald Ford, on a so called “social call”, but actually soliciting advice on how to handle the issue of the Bill Clinton sex scandal, which led to his impeachment and trial. It is now clear that Gore did the best he could in a bad situation, but that the close relationship of Gore to Bill Clinton was strained from that point on, and may have helped to doom the Gore Presidential race in 2000, in which Gore won the popular vote, but lost key states that resulted in George W. Bush winning the Electoral College.

Can Mike Pence, who assuredly will be the next President at some point during this term of office, be able to keep his credibility as Ford did, and Gore mostly did? Hard to say, but his appearance on Meet The Press today was not a good sign, as he clearly squirmed at the questions of Chuck Todd, and his body language betrayed his discomfort. So whether he can keep his legitimacy as the 46th President of the United States, and somehow unite the country when Donald Trump leaves office, is up in the air at this point.

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

Three Straight 8 Year Presidencies: Are We Likely To Have A Fourth?

As Barack Obama ends his 8 year Presidency, the third in a row, matching Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe (1801-1825), the question naturally arises: What are the chances of Donald Trump managing to be President for 8 years from 2017-2025?

It seems highly unlikely that Trump will stay in office for eight long years, but if he did, he would leave office at age 78 and seven months, about eight months older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office in January 1989.

Trump is already judged mentally unhinged by many, and his habit of sleeping very little and tweeting in the middle of the night, works against his mental and physical health for eight years.

Trump is likely to be controversial from Day One, and to believe that he will not alienate millions of Americans, beyond the majority who voted against him in 2016, is to be delusional.

The odds are good that he will face resistance from elements of the Republican Party, as well as the opposition Democratic Party over the next four years, and it is possible that a move will be made under the 25th Amendment to judge him not fit to serve, at least temporarily, leading to a long term “Acting President” Mike Pence, if Trump cannot be convinced to resign.

Mike Pence would be a dream for the right wing of the party, but likely would cause such a reaction, due to his religious extremism on women’s issues and gays and lesbians, so most likely would be a Pence Presidency ended by defeat in 2020.

In other words, this term could be like the second Nixon-Gerald Ford term, with Ford finishing the term but losing the election in 1976. But this statement is made, not to besmirch Gerald Ford, who would be far preferable to Mike Pence in every fashion, but simply the sense that this is the future, with a Democratic President in 2020, although right now, no real leader of such a transformation can yet be figured out.

Three Speakers Of The House Who Were “A Heartbeat Away” From The Presidency!

The Presidential Succession Act was changed in 1947 from what it had been in the earlier law of 1886.

Instead of the cabinet officers being next in line after the Vice President, the new law, in effect now for 68 years, has the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a Congressman elected by one Congressional district, as next in line.

So therefore, three Speakers of the House have been “a heartbeat away” from the Presidency, in mid 1947-1948, November 1963 to January 1965, and October to December 1973 and August to December 1974.

Joseph W.  Martin Jr. was the first Republican Speaker in 16 years, when the law changed, and when threats against Harry Truman by the Zionist Stern Gang in 1947, as reported by Margaret Truman, occurred, and Martin was a heartbeat away.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and Lyndon B. Johnson, who had suffered a heart attack in 1955 became President, 73 year John W. McCormack was next in line for 14 months, and the recognition of this fact and his advanced age, led to the passage and ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967, providing for an appointed Vice President to fill a vacancy after hearings by the House of Representatives and Senate.

Carl Albert was the third Speaker to be next in line when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in October 1973, and Albert remained so for two months until Gerald Ford was selected and confirmed as the the first Vice President under the 25th Amendment.

Again, Albert was first in line from August 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became President, until December 1974 when Nelson Rockefeller was selected and confirmed as the second Vice President under the 25th Amendment.

So for a total of about two years, we have had Speakers of the House, and all three of the opposition party to boot, as “a heartbeat away” from the Presidency.

And although no President or Vice President has left office since 1974, the odds of such an event occurring at some point in the future is mounting, and worrisome, with three out of four years since 1947 having the opposition party in the Speakership as two heartbeats away from the Presidency!

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.

 

The Constitutional Crisis We Tend To Forget: Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, And Gerald Ford In 1973

The tragedy of the John F. Kennedy Assassination in 1963 led to a decision that the nation needed an amendment to provide for a replacement Vice President, when there was a vacancy in that office.  We were faced with a Speaker of the House, John McCormack, who was 73, and a President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, Carl Hayden, who was 86, at a time when the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, had had a severe heart attack eight years earlier.

This was a delicate time, and led Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, and other legislators, to promote the 25th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1967.  And that made the constitutional crisis which followed six years later a little easier to deal with.

Richard Nixon became the most lawless President in American history, as a result of the Watergate Scandal and other scandals.  But Vice President Spiro Agnew also became the most lawless Vice President in American history, and thank goodness we found out about Agnew’s lawlessness, including bribery and accepting cash gifts in the Vice President’s office, which Agnew had also done while Governor of Maryland and Baltimore County Executive.

Instead of having Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma as next in line, with Albert unwilling to take on the responsibility, the 25th Amendment allowed the appointment and confirmation by both houses of Congress of House Minority Leader Gerald Ford.

Ford became Vice President within two months of the Agnew resignation on October 10, 1973. and when he became President, Ford appointed and gained the approval of both houses of Congress to the appointment of former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President, although it took four months to get him confirmed.

The problem of most Speakers of the House is their lack of competence to be President, which is still a problem for a period of months until a new Vice President is appointed and confirmed.  And also, three out of four years since 1947, the Speaker and or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate have been from the opposition party of the President.

So this still requires what this blogger has suggested in the past week in the midst of the Speakership crisis—a return to the Presidential Succession Act of 1886, which provided for Cabinet officers to succeed the President and Vice President, rather than the present law, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, which leaves us with the crisis we face now!