Here’s a very plausible plan for how we can redress the situation if it’s proven that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia:
If that is shown, then the first step is obvious. Trump should resign or, if he doesn’t, he should be impeached.
The second step should be obvious as well: Pence should resign or, if he doesn’t, he should be impeached. He benefited from the criminal (and treasonous) conspiracy just as much as Trump. He shouldn’t benefit even more by becoming the residual President.
Under the law as it is, this leaves Paul Ryan as President. And the hard moral question that Ryan would then face is whether he should remain as President. By hypothesis, we’re assuming the office was effectively stolen from the legitimate winner by a criminal and treasonous act of the (previous) leader of Ryan’s own party. Ryan’s being President is just the fruit of that poisonous tree. So should he just ignore that? Or should he acknowledge the wrong, and act to make it right?
There are lots of things Paul Ryan “should” do, like repudiate the agenda he’s devoted his political career to. It doesn’t strike me as much of a plan.
But that doesn’t mean this crime couldn’t be fixed politically. And recognizing just how it could is something we should be talking about right now.
President Ryan would have the right to nominate a Vice-President. That right is specified in the 25th Amendment. That nominee then becomes Vice-President once confirmed by a majority of both houses. That’s how Gerald Ford became Vice President. And that’s how he eventually became President without ever running for that office.
If Ryan became President because the Trump/Pence campaign committed treason, who should he nominate as his Vice President? The answer seems unavoidable: He should nominate the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside, and let her become the President.
Of course, this is the sort of thing that’s unimaginable in Washington today. But that’s why we need to start imagining it, now.
It’s easy if you try!
Without doubt, if Ryan did the right thing, that would be the most extraordinary event in the history of America since the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter.
If Paul Ryan sprouted wings and flew to Mars in 6 hours, this would be the most extraordinary event in America since the Louisiana Purchase! Which is why we need to start talking about it RIGHT NOW.
But unlike that, this event would build the union, not divide it.
When I ponder scenarios that will end partisan and sectional rancor in the United States, the one I keep coming back to is “President Hillary Clinton.”
And if he did it, then Clinton should embrace the spirit of cross partisan decency and nominate Ryan, or a Republican, as her Vice President. At least for the balance of her first term, the frame of adults-behaving-like-adults could live.
I don’t get it. Why not “Clinton’s Vice President should be a legal scholar with a viable vision for political change in America. Call him “Larry L.” She should then resign, giving that president an unassailable MANDATE to unilaterally enact campaign finance reform.” I mean, wishes are totally free!