Could a US President decide they want to step down and arrange for someone else of their choosing to take their place?

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    Constitutionally, they can't. Regardless of changing the VP as mentioned in the answers, ultimately only the VP will succeed the POTUS. – Panda Mar 22 '17 at 7:13

Yes, it is possible. Although mostly theoretical.

This requires the following steps:

  1. Convince the VP to step down voluntarily - the President can't fire the VP -, or remove the VP from office in some other way.

  2. Nominate your pick for VP and get it confirmed by Congress.

  3. Resign.

However, the actions taken to achieve step 1 are likely to influence the confirmation process in step 2. So I doubt it can be pulled off in practice.

There is some historical precedent worth mentioning: Nixon nominated Ford for VP after his original VP had to resign. When Nixon himself resigned due to the Watergate scandal eight months later, Ford succeeded Nixon.

Note that Nixon hadn't planned to resign at that time yet, so it doesn't exactly match your scenario.

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    You may want to mention that the options available for "remove the VP from office in some other way" do not include dismissal, since the president does not in fact have to power to remove the vice president from office. – phoog Mar 22 '17 at 13:37

The only way to achieve that would be to amend the constitution, which requires the cooperation of 2/3 of each house of congress and of 3/4 of the states.

The order of succession is specified by the 25th amendment.

In other words, it is so impractical as to be virtually impossible.

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    There is one edge case where this is incorrect. If the VP slot is already empty for whatever reason, then the next in line would be the speaker of the house. However that part is not in the 25th amendment. So puts on tinfoil hat the president can change the order of succession without an amendment, get rid of the VP, and then elevate whoever he wants. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 22 '17 at 3:55
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    @GeoffBall Yes, but passing something in congress is much easier than passing an amendment. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 22 '17 at 4:11
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    @DavidGrinberg how would the president get rid of the VP? – phoog Mar 22 '17 at 4:16
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    @phoog That was meant to be a joke... the president "gets rid" of the VP... as in some crazy conspiracy you would see in some TV show... Guess I was too subtle. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 22 '17 at 4:17
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    @David Or just get rid of the VP and appoint his pick for a new one. – cpast Mar 22 '17 at 4:51

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