The flaw in the 25th Amendment

If Trump, while still in the hospital, had wound up on a ventilator unable to speak—or if he were discharged from Walter Reed with some combination of COVID-19’s adverse side effects to the heart, lungs, or brain, including possible strokes, seizures, or a temporary paralysis called Guillain-Barre syndrome—again, would the American public even know?

Given this administration’s lies, and even the caginess of the president’s physicians (not just over the last few days but over the last few years), how much stock can the public put in their pronouncements?

And it’s not just about what the public knows; there is no reliable legal mechanism in place for delivering information on the president’s health to the other top government officials. Nancy Pelosi is third in line for the presidency under the Presidential Succession Act, but she told Face the Nation on Sunday that “We’re getting our information the way everyone else is—in the media.”

Suppose a foreign terrorist attack occurred on American soil between now and January 20, when the new or re-elected president is constitutionally required to take office. If Trump were too ill to function but nobody but his inner circle even knew, who would take the helm?