What happens if Donald Trump resigns?

Here's who the U.S. President would have to inform (with a simple letter)—and who would be next in the line to take his place

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2017. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Donald Trump turbulence continues as the President deals with the fallout of firing FBI director James Comey and the subsequent hiring by the U.S. Department of Justice of a special counsel to lead the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

While some are talking about impeachment, Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, thinks Trump is going to resign before that process ever unfolds.

This is what would happen if Trump actually did resign.


According to U.S. Code 3 Section 20, he would have to submit his resignation in writing to the U.S. Secretary of State, currently Rex Tillerson, who would have to initial it and acknowledge receipt. (Or, at least, that’s what Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned, the only time in U.S. history it has happened.)

According to the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, upon Trump’s resignation, Vice-President Mike Pence would instantly become president, though he would only take the Oath of Office shortly after. He would also have a swearing-in ceremony.

If Pence is also somehow compromised, deemed unfit for office, or resigns himself, the next in line to the presidency is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Paul Ryan. After Ryan comes the president pro tempore of the Senate, a position that usually goes to the senior member of the majority party. Right now, that’s 83-year-old Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.