In a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News when asked if he would accept defeat in an election Trump responded: “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”
This post by Lorimer Wilson, Managing Editor of munKNEE.com, is sourced (duly linked) from an amalgamation of articles on the subject as listed at the end of the article.
As the U.S. heads into its statutorily scheduled election on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1…the depth of the President’s disdain for democracy and the rule of law is on full display.) Source
(For nearly 250 years, Presidents have respected the law. Even when electoral defeat has been unexpected and ignominious, Presidents have passed the baton without acrimony…
- That a President would defy the results of an election has long been unthinkable but it is now, if not an actual possibility, something Trump’s supporters joke about and
- Michael Cohen, has said that “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”) Source
(Indeed, in a recent interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News when asked if he would accept defeat in an election Trump responded: “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”) Source
[No wonder many Americans are fearful that Trump might] (postpone or cancel November’s election if it appears that…[he] is likely to be defeated BUT it’s not allowed or, at least, it’s not allowed unless Congress allows it to happen.
- A trio of federal laws set Election Day for members of the Electoral College, senators, and US representatives as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.”
- If Republicans want to change this law, they will need to go through the Democratic House.
- That said, there is technically no constitutional requirement that a state must hold an election to choose members of the Electoral College.
- The Constitution provides that “each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress” so a state legislature could theoretically decide to select presidential electors out of a hat.
- More worrisome, a legislature controlled by one party could potentially appoint loyal members of that party directly to the Electoral College yet, while state lawmakers theoretically have this power, the idea that presidents are chosen by popular election is now so ingrained into our culture that it is highly unlikely any state legislature would try to appoint electors directly.
- Additionally, even if a state did decide to appoint electors directly, that would require the state to enact a law changing its method of selecting members of the Electoral College.
- The 20th Amendment, moreover, provides that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.”
- Thus, even if the election were somehow canceled, and, as such, no one is elected to replace these officials, Trump and Pence cease to be elected officials the minute their terms expire on January 20.
- Members of the House serve two-year terms, so all members of the House will cease to be representatives on January 3; one-third of senators’ terms also expire on that date.
- Ordinarily, if the presidency and vice presidency are both vacant at the same time, the office falls to the speaker of the House but if there is no election, there will be no speaker when Trump and Pence’s terms expire because all House seats will become vacant on January 3.
- If there is no president, vice president, or speaker, the next official in line is the president pro tempore of the Senate, a largely ceremonial position that is traditionally held by the most senior member of the majority party. Right now that is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
- 23 seats held by Republicans and only 12 seats held by Democrats are up for election this year, so if no election is held, Democrats will have a majority in the Senate once these seats become vacant. That would mean that Senate Democrats would be able to choose a new president pro tempore. If they follow the tradition of choosing the most senior member of their caucus, that would place Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) next in line for the presidency.
- The 17th Amendment permits state governors to name temporary senators to vacant seats, but not all states allow their governors to do so. It’s also not immediately clear who would be the governor of many states if no election takes place in 2020, because much of the line of succession in those states could be rendered vacant as well.
- A more realistic threat…is that state officials could use the extraordinary powers available to them during a major public health crisis to manipulate who is able to cast a ballot (Trump Won’t Steal the Election, but Your Governor Might.) There are lots of ways to prevent people from voting besides canceling the election, and the coronavirus provides the perfect excuse.
- It’s not hard to imagine a circumstance, for example, where the heavily Democratic counties of Miami-Dade and Broward, in Florida, are placed under a “shelter in place” order on Election Day, while residents of Republican counties in the panhandle are free to head to the polls.
- Conclusion: All of the above is a long way of saying that the risk that an election will be outright canceled — or that a state may try to take the power to remove President Trump away from its people — is exceedingly low. Source)
[Indeed,] (even if Trump or coronavirus concerns somehow prevail upon Congress to move the date, the worst that can happen is that the election will be temporarily postponed, not canceled.
- The election still has to happen before January 20, 2021. That’s because the Constitution requires that the current president’s term end by that date.
- We have to have a new, duly elected administration, even if it’s Trump’s second administration, by 1/20/21.
- We have to elect a new Congress.
- There is no constitutional mechanism for having a “provisional” government.
- Either we have an election before January 20, or we don’t have a government—we have a military dictatorship.
- Unless Trump has the military on board for a full-on coup d’état, he simply doesn’t have the legislative or constitutional authority to escape from his reckoning with the American people.
We are going to have an election. Unfortunately, just because we have an election doesn’t mean everybody will be allowed to vote in that election…
- The biggest danger to our democracy is not that our election will be postponed but that access to that election will be restricted only to the people who are likely to vote for Donald Trump. That threat is very real.
- State governors have enormous emergency powers they can use during a public health crisis. They can:
- restrict assembly;
- restrict travel;
- restrict the hours people are allowed outside of their homes
- and they can place these restrictions on a county-by-county basis, meaning that your ability to assemble in a long line to vote might be predicated on what community you live in….
- State governors have enormous emergency powers they can use during a public health crisis. They can:
The threat of Donald Trump using emergency powers to cancel the election is virtually nonexistent. The threat of conservative state officials trying to manipulate the outcome of the election through voter suppression…[though, is not].) Source
(It’s unclear what happens if only some states hold the presidential election as scheduled, while others fail to appoint electors at all…
- The 12th Amendment’s text (“a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed”) suggests that the total number of electors needed to choose a president declines if some states do not appoint anyone to the Electoral College. If only 100 electors are appointed, 51 electoral votes could potentially be enough to choose a president.
- Needless to say, this quirk of the Constitution’s text gives every state an incentive to hold their election. If a bloc of red states delays the election, while blue states do not, Republicans could effectively forfeit the Electoral College vote.) Source
(If no one wins a majority of the electors the power to choose a president falls to the House — but with a twist.
- If the House is called upon to choose a president, it must choose one of the three candidates who received the most electoral votes.
- Moreover, each state’s congressional delegation has only one vote, and “a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”
In the exceedingly unlikely event that the 2020 election is canceled, the result isn’t likely to be an extended term for President Trump. The most likely result is chaos.) Source
If Trump loses the electoral college in the fall, which is by no means certain or even likely, he may refuse to concede. Were this to happen, either a military or civilian response or a co-ordinated military and civilian response to remove him from office might be required.
If Trump were inclined to overstay his term, the levers of power work in favor of removal.
- Because the president immediately and automatically loses his constitutional authority upon expiration of his term or after removal through impeachment,
- he would lack the power to direct the U.S. Secret Service or other federal agents to protect him.
- He would likewise lose his power, as the commander in chief of the armed forces, to order a military response to defend him.
- In fact, the newly minted president would possess those presidential powers.
- If necessary, the successor could direct federal agents to forcibly remove Trump from the White House.
- Now a private citizen, Trump would no longer be immune from criminal prosecution, and could be arrested and charged with trespassing in the White House.
- While even former presidents enjoy Secret Service protection, agents presumably would not follow an illegal order to protect one from removal from office.
- Although Trump’s remaining in office seems unlikely, a more frightening—and plausible—scenario would be if his defeat inspired extremist supporters to engage in violence.
- One could imagine a world in which Trump is defeated in the 2020 election, and he immediately begins tweeting that the election was rigged.
- His message would be amplified by right-wing media. If his grievances hit home with even a few people inclined toward violence, deadly acts of violence, or even terrorist attacks against the new administration, could result.) Source
Sources for this article:
- Trump’s hint that he may not concede election is America’s tipping point
- Is Trumpism a cult?
- Can Trump cancel the November election?
- What Would Happen If Trump Refused to Leave Office?
- Biden ‘absolutely convinced’ military would escort Trump from White House if he loses and refuses to leave
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