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Fourth Estate

If the president gets seriously ill, the Constitution has a plan for that. But what if the president stands in the way?

At 73 years old, President Donald Trump is a prime target for a contagious disease that falls hard on the elderly. Multiple people in the Trump orbit are infected. Trump posed for a picture alongside an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who has tested positive. (Bolsonaro, who is in the same picture, denies reports that he’s positive.) The president spoke at the CPAC conference earlier this month where, as was later reported, an attendee carrying a gold-plated VIP ticket was later diagnosed as virus-positive. Other attendees of the conference, including incoming chief of staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) exercised medical caution with self-quarantine. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.),who was at Mar-a-Lago at the same time as the Brazilian visitors, is also self-quarantining. And both Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump recently spent time with an Australian minister who subsequently tested positive. It’s almost as if the virus has circled Trump.

At this point, it’s not morbid, just good planning, to say the administration has no excuse not to start making plans for the chance that the virus might incapacitate Trump. The White House has not exactly been transparent about whether Trump has been tested. But his age and his clinical obesity mean that his system would be fighting an infection from a trench: It can put older patients on ventilators, sometimes for four weeks, even if they do recover.

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