VICE President Mike Pence was holed up in his residence on Friday as Donald Trump was hospitalized with coronavirus – and may take power from the president if he falls gravely ill.
A spokesman for Mr Pence said the VP is in “good health” as he remains at his official home at the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC – away from the coronavirus-hit White House.
President Trump is being transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, as he experiences symptoms following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
As of Friday evening, Trump had not transferred power to Pence, ABC reported.
Trump shared a video message on Twitter, and said he thinks “I’m doing well” but was headed to Walter Reed.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said.
“I’m going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out.
“The First Lady is doing very well,” he said of Melania, who also tested positive for COVID-19.
“So thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you,” Trump said.
Although Trump said he thinks he’s doing well, if he falls too ill, Pence may assume power and take over the president’s duties.
Powers may still be transferred to – even if Trump does not sign them over – under the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The Amendment allows a VP to take over if a President dies or resigns, or signs over power if “unable to discharge the power and duties of his office.”
However, it would also allow a VP to take over if it’s deemed a President is unable to serve due to an illness.
According to the 25th Amendment, if it’s deemed that a President is unable to serve his duties, the Vice President could “immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
The VP and other members of the executive office, or a body of Congress, would give a “written declaration” that the President is unable to carry out duties.
Power would then be transferred to the VP, who would serve as Acting President.
The president may later resume his powers and role in office – unless it’s deemed he is unable to do so, according to the Amendment.
The Amendment came about after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
It was passed by Congress in 1965, and ratified in 1967.
In this case, if Trump were too sick, Pence and other governement officials would sign over power to the VP.
Trump could resume his duties back in office, and proceed with another term if he were to win the election.
If Pence himself were to fall too ill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would then take over as Acting President.
Ahead of his transfer to Walter Reed, President Trump was given an “antibody cocktail,” according to a memo from his doctor.
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He was also taking zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin, his physician said.
“As of this afternoon the President remains fatigued but in good spirits. He’s being evaluated by a team of experts, and together we’ll be making recommendations to the First Lady in regards to next best steps,” Dr. Sean Conley said in a statement.
Melania was said to only be experiencing “mild symptoms” – including a cough and headache.