These Are All the People in Line for the Presidency if Trump Is Removed From Office

There’s a lot of talk, but what would actually happen? | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

We all know there are plenty of Americans who hate Donald Trump. If you’re one of them, you probably have high hopes of him being removed from office, right? If the answer’s yes, then it’s likely you’ve also thought about who would take his place. Most folks know the vice president is next in line, but what happens after that?

With so much talk about removing Trump from his glitter-clad golden throne, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on what the post-removal logistics would look like.

The Presidential Succession Act

Before we dive right into the list, it’s important to understand the history of it all. The Presidential Succession Act was first passed in 1792 to establish a line of succession should the president be unfit or unable to fulfill his duties. In the original version of the act, the Senate president pro tempore would be next in line after the vice president. But this wouldn’t be the case forever.

1947: A major change is made to the line of succession

American President Harry S Truman
Harry S. Truman made the most notable changes. | Fox Photos/Getty Images

The Presidential Succession Act has gone through plenty of changes over the years — most of them rather significant. For instance, in 1886, Congress changed the order of successors. Cabinet officers would be next in line after the vice president. But that decision wasn’t here to stay.

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman made the most memorable change when he signed the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. He changed the order to vice president, speaker of the House, and then Senate president pro tempore. While a few modifications have been made since then, the act that was passed in 1947 is the one we know today.

2006: One last change is made

Acting Homeland Security Chief Elaine Duke Testifies At House Hearing On Terror Threats
That means Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke is 18th on the list. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The most recent change to the Presidential Succession Act came in 2006, when the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 was signed. This act added the secretary of Homeland Security to the list. Coming in at lucky No. 18, the secretary of Homeland Security is last in line.

If Trump is removed, this is who’s up next

Mike Pence speaks at the vice presidential debate.
He’s second in line. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Most of us know the vice president is next in line. However, if you’re not a fan of Trump’s politics, then you probably won’t be too pleased with his would-be successor either.

  • 1. Vice President Mike Pence
  • 2. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
  • 3. Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch

Next in line: Cabinet members

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson is first in line for Cabinet members. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

If for some reason the top three on the list aren’t able to take Trump’s spot, the list goes on to Cabinet members.

  • 4. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
  • 5. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin
  • 6. Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • 7. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  • 8. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke
  • 9. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue
  • 10. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
  • 11. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta

The remaining few

Trump's Pick For Health Secretary Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) Speaks At The Brookings Institution On The Federal Budget Process
Tom Price will probably never have to worry about moving up to president. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Would we every really need to resort to Nos. 12 through 18? Probably not. But the government still has a plan for it, just in case the president and every other member on this list happen to be incapable or go missing.

  • 12. Secretary of Heath and Human Services Tom Price
  • 13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson
  • 14. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao
  • 15. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
  • 16. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
  • 17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin
  • 18. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

The one caveat

Elaine Chao testifies during her confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. secretary of transportation
She’s not actually eligible to be president. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With the way the list is, there’s just one caveat. Should it ever resort to the No. 14 spot, the presidency would go to the next person down. Why? Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao isn’t eligible for the presidency because she’s not a U.S.-born citizen — Choa was born in Taipei, Taiwan. However, we’re pretty sure it’ll never reach her name anyway.

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