The Presidential Succession Act was designed to provide a list of people who would assume the presidency, should a president die or be removed from office. Throughout our history, a number of vice presidents have stepped in due to death, or resignation in Nixon’s case. The line of succession has not had to go further than the VP, but there are guidelines in place provided that both the president and VP were out of the picture.
The mounting wave of evidence against Trump could not only end his tenure in office, but also that of his VP, Mike Pence. If both were to resign under indictment or intense pressure from the Republican Party, guess who then becomes president? Paul Ryan, that’s who.
In 2012, Paul Ryan was the VP candidate on the GOP ticket that crashed and burned. In 2016, Paul Ryan was opposed to Trump being the Republican nominee, but eventually shut up for the sake of party unity.
Given the chance, Paul Ryan would likely agree to pardon Mike Pence, but not Donald Trump or his son who colluded with Russian interests. That would allow the GOP to do a hard reset back to the Reagan worship, and wash their hands of Trump. They could say that he perverted the Republican brand for his own interests while coordinating with a foreign entity to do so.
Ryan has defended Trump once elected, although signs of frustration with The Donald are becoming more and more apparent. It is very likely that other like-minded Republican members of Congress also want Trump to either shut up or go away, but they’re too afraid of upsetting the rabid electorate in their districts who could support a GOP primary challenger next year.
Ryan wants to force through massive cuts to social programs, including repealing Obamacare. Very little is getting done because of the constant distractions from the Russia scandal and Trump repeatedly saying stupid things that hurts the GOP.
While Trump believes he can force through any legislation with enough screaming about fake news and Hillary Clinton, Ryan has been in office long enough to know how to govern, even if his beliefs are completely wrong.
Republicans are turning on each other out of frustration. The Freedom Caucus is at odds with moderate Republicans, the Senate won’t pass House bills, and Trump hasn’t signed a single piece of major legislation during the last six months. This has to keep Paul Ryan up at night, and he can’t wait to be free of the Trump nightmare.
I believe Paul Ryan is biding his time, waiting for the rest of the GOP to turn on Trump, and even Mike Pence, depending on how damaging the Russian collusion evidence becomes. He is poised to become either president or vice president should either of them resign.