The role of the designated survivor

In this April 4, 2017, file photo, the Capitol is seen at dawn in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Andrew Cuomo has done it.

Eric Holder has done it.

Even Vice President Dick Cheney has done it.

All have served as "designated survivors," skipping major events including the State of the Union, ready to assume power in the event of a disaster.

Kiefer Sutherland may have brought the practice of a designated survivor into the mainstream, but it has been going on for decades.

The designated survivor is typically a cabinet-level official who is over the age of 35 and a U.S.-born citizen.

Before he was New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In 1999, during President Bill Clinton's State of the Union Address, Cuomo was selected to be the designated survivor.

"You have the Secret Service with you, you have what they call the football with you, the communications devices, because if it happened, you would immediately be at war," Cuomo told Eyewitness News. "You're accompanied by numerous secret service members and Army officials, vehicles, and it really makes you think how quickly the situation could get so bad, and how fragile this whole system is and how fragile the world is."

When President Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress last year, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was named designated survivor.

It's not yet known who will be the designated survivor for President's Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday.
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