I’ve seen this meme or ones like it recently, and it’s quite misleading.
Someone has taken the line of succession (Vice President, Speaker of the House, Senate President, Secretary of State, etc.) and somehow has forgotten that holes can be filled in the meantime.
If Trump is impeached (Sorry — when Trump is impeached), then Pence becomes President. He then names a new Vice President (approved by the Senate). If he names John McCain, then McCain becomes Vice President. And then if Pence is impeached, McCain becomes President, not Paul Ryan.
That’s what happened with Nixon. His Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned because he was a bigger crook than Nixon, and Nixon named Gerald Ford. Then Nixon resigned and Ford became President, and he named Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President. We didn’t even need the line of succession law.
The only way this line of succession is important is if everyone was impeached at the same time. The reason we even have such a law about the line of succession is for the unlikely situation where there may be a terrorist attack or something and suddenly a bunch of these people die at once. We then go down that line to see who is next.
There were some Senators in 1868 during the trial of President Andrew Johnson who had trouble stomaching his replacement by Senate President pro tempore Ben Wade. (The Presidential succession sequence was different then, and of course the VP slot was vacant.) Michael Des Barres argued that Wade’s view of monetary policy (expansion through paper currency) were anathema to many Senators who favored contraction back to a gold standard, and that this is one reason some Republicans voted to acquit Johnson. Then again, some Senators simply didn’t like Wade.
Unless Mike Pence doesn’t pick a Vice President. There’s nothing requiring you to do so, and we’ve had four Presidents without Vices in our history.
Yeah, but those were all early in our history… it never happens that way any more.