The 20th Amendment lays out the line of succession for the Presidency in case of a catastrophic event which sees the Commander-in-Chief and the Vice-President killed, incapacitated, convicted of a crime, or leave office of their own accord. And we saw this in action back in 1974 when Nixon’s VP Spiro Agnew resigned prior to the President, and where the House Speaker Gerald Ford by law slid into the Presidency.
But on Aug. 18, President Barack Obama signed a curious new Executive Order that sets a new line of succession for the Department of the Treasury, and one has to wonder why this was done when it appears to be completely unnecessary.
Executive Order — Providing an Order of Succession within the Department of the Treasury
Section 1. Subject to the provisions of section 3 of this Executive Order, the officers named in section 2, in the order listed, shall act as and perform the functions and duties of the office of Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) during any period when both the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury have died, resigned, or are otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office of Secretary.
Sec. 2. Order of Succession. (a) Under Secretaries of the Treasury, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such officers;
(b) General Counsel of the Department of the Treasury;
(c) Deputy Under Secretaries of the Treasury and those Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate, in the order in which they shall have taken the oath of office as such officers; and
(d) the following officers of the Department of the Treasury, in the order listed:
(i) Chief of Staff;
(ii) Assistant Secretary for Management;
(iii) Fiscal Assistant Secretary;
(iv) Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Internal Revenue Service;
(v) Commissioner, Bureau of the Fiscal Service;
(vi) Deputy Commissioner, Fiscal Accounting and Shared Services, Bureau of the Fiscal Service; and
(vii) Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, Internal Revenue Service.
Sec. 3. Exceptions. (a) No individual who is serving in an office listed in section 2(a)-(d) in an acting capacity shall, by virtue of so serving, act as Secretary pursuant to this Executive Order.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, the President retains discretion, to the extent permitted by the Act, to depart from this Executive Order in designating an acting Secretary. – Whitehouse.gov
Last night, economist Rob Kirby gave an interview with Finance and Liberty and speculated that this unprecedented move by President Obama was done with the possible expectation that some event may lead the November elections to be cancelled, and that the current heads of the Department of the Treasury may resign in opposition to this, leaving the office that runs the multi-trillion dollar Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) without a facilitator.
As the Department of the Treasury is under the Executive Branch, it remains uncertain whether this Order to determine the line of succession within this office is under the authority of the President to change, or whether it requires a Constitutional Amendment like the one that determined Presidential lines of succession. But either way, to create this Order with just three months left before the November elections, and five months remaining in his Presidential term, means that something may be coming over the horizon that could create a scenario that both leaves Obama trying to remain in office, and sees the Secretary of the Treasury leave without the possibility of getting a replacement made through Senatorial vote.