What would happen if a general election candidate enters the race with no actual intention of acting as President but rather with the intention of winning the election then immediately resigning, allowing their VP candidate to assume the Presidency.

Obviously such an action would be immoral and dishonest, but would it be "illegal"? Would there be any way to remove the ascended VP other than impeachment?

  • 4
    VTC. Conspiracy theory levels of speculation. Might be OK if genericised by removing individuals names
    – Jontia
    Aug 5, 2020 at 7:17
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    " what if Michael Bloomberg paid Biden $1B for such a privilege?". That would be bribery, and illegal. Aug 5, 2020 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


There would be nothing inherently illegal about such a scheme. It's wildly unlikely that someone that finally achieved the pinnacle of political power would step aside for personal or ideological reasons. But if they did, the duly elected VP would become the President and no laws would be broken.

Of course, if something like your Bloomberg scenario were to take place, that would be an obvious case of bribery which would be illegal.

  • precedent holds that presidential bribery is not illegal.
    – dandavis
    Aug 5, 2020 at 16:51
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    You could argue that this actually happened with Nixon's appointment of Ford as Vice President, replacing Agnew (December 1973) followed by Nixon's resignation in August 1974. Of course we can't know whether Nixon expected that he might resign when he made the appointment...
    – jamesqf
    Aug 5, 2020 at 18:18
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    @jamesqf - If you could prove that Nixon conditioned the appointment of Ford on Ford promising Nixon that he'd be pardoned when he resigned, sure, that would be a case for bribery. I am not aware of any meaningful evidence that actually took place. Aug 5, 2020 at 18:50
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    "precedent holds that presidential bribery is not illegal". There is a very shaky precedent for saying that presidential bribery cannot be prosecuted while the president is sitting. That doesn't make it legal, and among other things the president could be prosecuted after he leaves office. Aug 5, 2020 at 19:00
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    @Justin Cave: I am NOT claiming that there was any promise of a pardon by Ford, or any other quid pro quo. I am just saying that Nixon inserted Ford into the Vice Presidency, and later resigned. And Ford then inserted Nelson Rockefeller...
    – jamesqf
    Aug 6, 2020 at 3:53

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