What Happens If Trump Resigns? The Answer Should Actually Scare You

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As usual, the internet is roiling with speculation about the nation's 45th president — this time about whether or not he will resign, a conversation fueled by Trump's Art of the Deal ghostwriter offering a prediction that he will by the end of the year. But what happens if Trump resigns? The country gets Mike Pence as president, which should send shivers down your spine if you're even moderately opposed to the policies that Trump is already attempting to enact.

Let's take a step back. Trump is historically unpopular, with polls suggesting that he's the least popular president at this point in his administration since modern polling began. Robert Mueller's investigation is delving ever deeper, and Trump is evidently not happy with the direction that it's going. And although he claims otherwise, he's been unable to achieve any major legislative victories. So when Tony Schwartz,  Trump's ghostwriter, starts claiming that Trump might resign, well, maybe it's worth listening to.

"The circle is closing at blinding speed," Schwartz wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. "Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice." He went on to say that Trump "more likely resigns by fall, if not sooner." Trump has not in any way suggested this will be his next move — this is simply Schwartz's own speculation.

If you weren't around for Watergate, though, you've never witnessed first hand what happens when a president resigns. According to the rules laid out in the 25th Amendment, the presidency transfers over to the next person in line: the vice president. When Nixon resigned, Newsweek wrote, vice president Gerald Ford was sworn into office immediately as Nixon vacated the role. Unless there was a serious curveball — Mueller's investigation, for example, finding something damning about Pence in the very near future, which seems unlikely — this is what would happen if Trump resigned.

Trump's presidential line of succession is, of course, all Republican, so Democrats shouldn't get any high hopes about liberal policies coming into the mix if Trump were to resign. Trump has been an ineffective president so far, largely because he can't seem to figure out how to work with anyone in his party. Pence, a more conventional and conservative Republican, would be unlikely to have the same problems — which could turn out dangerous for those who don't want him to be able to enact his right-wing, Christian agenda.

But is this a case of the devil you know being preferable to the devil you don't know? Trump has also been entirely unpredictable, which doesn't give anyone confidence when the various problems he has to deal with include neo-Nazis marching on American streets (whom he was reticent to condemn) and potential nuclear war with North Korea. Perhaps Pence would offer a steadier hand?

If Schwartz is right, you won't have to speculate for long; if Trump were to resign in a similar way that Nixon did, he could announce it and then be gone the next day. Resignation doesn't come with the weeks of testimony that impeachment would require — just an announcement, and then a new man in the White House. These are certainly interesting times — now we can just wait and see how interesting they actually get.