I am curious, is there anything preventing the President and Vice President from switching positions?

For example, could the President resign, and then the newly elevated VP appoint him to his old position?

Could this be done to avoid the effects of an impeachment?

  • 1
    Very interesting question. You'd have to wonder why the President would want to become the VP, though... It's a very powerless position – Bobson Mar 2 '15 at 21:15
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    I wonder if the next season of VEEP will pull this off ... – Connor Clark Jul 14 '16 at 20:07
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    Only if their wives.... oh... never mind...... – PoloHoleSet May 24 '17 at 21:34
up vote 20 down vote accepted

There is no law preventing this scenario from happening as you describe so it could happen in theory. The part that would make this practically impossible is that the VP appointment would require both houses to consent due to the 25th ammendments. It's very unlikely they would ever consent to an appointment of a president who resigned, especially one that was impeached.

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    If the President were incapacitated long enough that the VP had to serve as acting president, and the President--once he recovered--was happy with the job the VP was doing, could the President simply let the VP continue to serve as acting president unless or until something happened to him, but then resume his duties as President if the VP were incapacitated? The President wouldn't be entitled to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, but otherwise I don't think anything would forbid the President from being in "recovery" for as long as the VP was able to do the job, but... – supercat May 23 '17 at 21:11
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    ...announce he was "recovered" and able to resume work as soon as the VP was no longer able to. – supercat May 23 '17 at 21:11
  • @supercat If the President were incapacitated long enough that the VP had to serve as acting president -- I think you're overestimating here. There have been several cases in recent history where the VP served as acting Pres. for only a couple of hours. Similarly, the powers of the presidency aren't always transferred immediately when the Pres. is incapacitated. – tonysdg May 24 '17 at 16:56
  • @tonysdg: I know the VP can perform presidential duties even for short periods of incapacitation, but in most such cases I would expect that the VP would typically let non-urgent matters wait for the President. If the President was going to be in surgery for 6 hours, for example, it would be unseemly for the VP to schedule a summit with a foreign head of state during the six-hours he had presidential authority. When I said "acting president", I meant to imply a duration long and uncertain enough that the President was not particularly expected to return to office. – supercat May 24 '17 at 17:19
  • @tonysdg: For example, if the Presidential limo were to crash and render the President comatose, but he were to recover two weeks later, it would not be unreasonable for the VP to have moved into the Oval Office by that time, but if everyone agreed the President was in good health after that there should be no problem with the VP resuming his former role as VP while the President resumed his role as President. – supercat May 24 '17 at 17:25

In a non-scandal situation, this might be possible (although weird), but this wouldn't be an effective way to avoid impeachment.

  1. First of all, resigning doesn't necessarily stop the impeachment process. The Senate voted in 1876 to proceed with the impeachment trial of Secretary of War William Belknap, despite the fact that he had already resigned (he was ultimately acquitted).

  2. Secondly, an impeachment proceeding can (optionally) disqualify someone from holding any future public office. If the Senate voted (subsequent to removal) to do that, they wouldn't even be eligible to be appointed to VP.

  3. Thirdly, according to the 25th Amendment, a Vice Presidential appointment is subject to confirmation by the Sentate both houses of Congress (thanks user102008). So unless there was a full turnover in Congress, the prospect of them confirming someone they just removed (or were starting the process to remove) seems vanishingly unlikely.

  4. Finally, Congress could still impeach a newly appointed VP, even for things they did before entering that office. See page 15 of this Congressional report on Impeachment (PDF):

Judge Archbald was convicted on four articles alleging misconduct in his then current positions as a circuit judge and Commerce Court judge, and on a fifth article that alleged misuse of his office both in his then current positions and in his previous position as U.S. District Judge.

So you could still impeach that new VP for his prior conduct as President, or even his conduct after he resigned from office.

And I would imagine that if he had already been impeached as president, it might be possible to repeat that process very quickly, based on all the prior investigation and evidence (and then invoke the clause to disqualify them from holding any future office).

  • "a Vice Presidential appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate" It is subject to confirmation by a majority of the House and the Senate. – user102008 Jan 27 at 0:02
  • @user102008 Fixed, thanks. Linked to the relevant text of the 25th Amendment. – BradC Jan 27 at 19:20

This could not happen to avoid impeachment (The Democratic Speaker of the House said he wanted the VP position filled before continuing for Impeachment so that it didn't come off as a coup to Republicans following Spiro Agnew's resignation from the position).

That said, the VP can become Acting-President for a time where the POTUS is not able to perform his duties but will return at a later time (George H.W. Bush during the assassination of Ronald Regan as well as Dick Cheyenne during surgeries that George W. Bush underwent.). Upon return to health, POTUS resumed duties and the Acting-President was demoted to VP.

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