Trump 'very careful' about keeping distance from Pence as Pelosi could become president if they both fall ill
President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, May 12, suggested that he and Vice President Mike Pence have to be very careful amid the coronavirus pandemic in order to prevent a scenario where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could take charge of the presidency.
Trump, while responding to a tweet noting Pelosi is third in line if Trump and Pence become incapacitated by Covid-19, said: "We must be very careful. Crazy Nancy would be a total disaster, and the USA will never be a Communist Country!"
According to the order of succession in the US Constitution, should the president and vice president die or become incapacitated, the speaker of the House becomes president.
A senior administration official said that Trump and Pence are keeping their distance from each other amid a time when multiple members of the White House have been affected by the virus. They are "maintaining some distance for the immediate future on consultation from the White House medical unit," the official told the Daily Mail.
Trump had previously brushed aside questions on whether he and Pence should maintain a distance in an attempt to preserve the chain of command if one of them gets infected with the novel coronavirus. However, the situation has evolved ever since the vice president's press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the disease last week.
There are visible changes in distancing measures in the White House as Pence was not seen at Trump's press conference in the Rose Garden on Monday, May 11. His absence from the conference was unusual as he has been a regular attendee of the briefings. The pair was last seen together in the White House on Thursday, May 7.
Trump, during Monday's briefing, also noted that he had not seen Pence ever since Miller was diagnosed with Covid-19. "I have not seen him since then," the president said. "We could talk on the phone."
Pence, during a call with governors on Monday, had said that he was taking extra precautions and was participating in the conference call "in a separate room on my own" while Dr. Deborah Birx was "in a situation room with some staff."
Considering the vice president's office is across the street from the West Wing in the Old Executive Office Building, it is easy to keep the two leaders separated. Under the new safety protocols, Pence and multiple other White House aides, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, were seen wearing masks for the first time in public.
Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi, who has heeded to social distancing guidelines for months, continues to wear a mask on Capitol Hill.
White House staff, on Monday, were reportedly told that they were to wear masks at all times when they enter or move around the building. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was also seen wearing a mask at the press conference along with deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley.
"Just about everybody has a face mask on," Trump, who has refrained from wearing one, observed at the news conference on Monday as he used a separate podium which was not shared by other officials who spoke at the briefing.