the good ole switcheroo

- bill 10-13-2016 9:04 pm

You subscribe to the WSJ? 1% of 99%.
- alex 10-14-2016 7:48 am

free on fb news feed. i don't subscribe to nyt either. bought the nyt everyday for 25 years. then switched to free online. then just used up my monthly allotment. now both pay fb to reach me w stories that don't cost which i parse, this included.
- bill 10-14-2016 8:36 am

Updated Oct. 9, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

What’s next for the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump? After hearing Mr. Trump make a series of derogatory and sexually predatory statements in a 2005 recording that was leaked last week, Republican officials are openly fretting about the future of their party and its candidates. Some are calling on Mr. Trump to step aside so that a new presidential nominee can be chosen.

With Mr. Trump emphatically rejecting that idea, the best chance for Republicans to secure the White House (and improve their prospects down ballot) may be a different course: Mr. Trump could publicly declare that although he will remain the Republican nominee he will resign immediately after taking his oath of office on Inauguration Day, leaving his more-popular running mate, Mike Pence, to succeed him as president.

In this way, Republicans can effectively replace Mr. Trump at the top of the ticket, without having to endure the logistical and legal turmoil of formally nominating a new standard-bearer less than a month before Election Day.

If Mr. Trump were to drop out before the election, the party would have to fill the vacancy through a vote governed by Republican National Committee rules—a process that would be time-consuming and tumultuous, and that would distract Republicans during the election’s critical home stretch.

In addition, if Mr. Trump stepped aside now electoral confusion would result. It’s too late to replace his name on many ballots and voting machines. Some states have laws with clear deadlines, which have already passed, for making ballot changes. Early voting has already begun in several states and for U.S. troops stationed overseas.

The Constitution offers a different way forward. Under the 20th Amendment, the newly elected president’s term begins at noon on Jan. 20. A President-elect Trump could recite his oath of office and then immediately resign. Under the 25th Amendment, power would fall to his vice president, Mr. Pence. In this way, Americans inclined to vote Republican but who are unwilling to support Mr. Trump would be able to vote for him in name only, with the understanding that he was just a placeholder.

Voters might wonder whether they could trust Mr. Trump to fulfill this pledge to resign after winning the White House. The threat that Congress might impeach and remove him might blunt some of this anxiety, but only to a point. It isn’t clear, both politically and legally, that refusing to uphold a resignation pledge amounts to an impeachable “high crime” or “misdemeanor.”

And what about the vacated vice presidency? Mr. Pence could identify whom he would nominate as his vice president in advance of the election, perhaps giving voters greater confidence of Mr. Trump’s commitment to follow through with the resignation plan.

Under the Constitution, Mr. Pence’s nominee for vice president would have to be approved by a majority of Congress. Securing House approval would not be difficult, given that the chamber seems likely to remain under Republican control. The fate of the Senate after November’s elections is less certain. But even a Democratic Senate might accede to Mr. Pence’s choice, especially since a vacant vice presidency would make the Republican speaker of the House—presumably Paul Ryan—second in line under the Presidential Succession Act.

After Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned amid scandal in 1973, President Nixon secured approval of his replacement, Gerald Ford, by a Democratic Congress. After Nixon’s resignation, President Ford nominated as vice president Nelson Rockefeller, who was confirmed in 1974 by a Congress in which Democrats controlled both chambers.

Of course, even with all these maneuvers, Republicans might still fall short on election day. But if the Trump candidacy is irreparably damaged, a promise to resign could be the GOP’s best hope, especially at this late date.

Mr. Trump insists that he will not relinquish his nomination. If his candidacy weakens further in the coming days, however, he might relent, seeing victory followed by resignation as a better option than humiliating defeat. Then if the Republicans lose anyway, Mr. Trump can deflect responsibility by saying that they would have won had he not been pushed aside.

This potential solution to Republicans’ electoral woes is unusual, maybe even bizarre. But if we’ve learned anything from the 2016 presidential election, it’s that the old rules sometimes need to be thrown out.

Mr. Gant is a constitutional lawyer in Washington, D.C. Mr. Peabody is a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
- bill 10-14-2016 9:23 am

even wsj readers arent dumb enough to believe this will ever happen.

- dave 10-14-2016 11:20 am

yet the paper deemed it publishable.

- bill 10-14-2016 1:00 pm

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