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The Editors

Trump’s Illness Shouldn’t Be a Governance Crisis

The political system is prepared for emergencies. But elected officials must rise to the occasion.

Wish him well.

Wish him well.

Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg

The news that President Donald Trump has contracted the coronavirus has made a very strange year even stranger, and a stressed and battered political system has suffered a new blow. With a bit of prudence and foresight, however, the country can cope.

It’s tempting to entertain dire scenarios at such a moment. The president’s illness will complicate everything from the debates to his pending Supreme Court nomination to negotiations over a new economic relief bill. But Americans should be confident that the government can still function. The 25th Amendment specifies procedures for transferring the president’s powers in an emergency, while the Presidential Succession Act identifies who assumes office should both the president and vice president be incapacitated. Although no one could’ve predicted precisely this chain of events, officials have long contemplated — and prepared for — a crisis in the executive branch.