What Happens if Trump Refuses to Leave?
Trump reiterated his wait and see attitude today, a bit more forcefully.
Reporter: “Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?” the reporter asked.
Trump: “We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster. We want to get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it.”
Reporter: “No, I don’t know it.”
Trump has made this claim before, but there was more force in the way he said it this time.
Trump wants another conservative on the Supreme Court because the result of the election may head there.
Please consider Trump says he thinks Supreme Court Will Rule on Election Outcome so 9th Justice Needed.
"I think it's better if you go before the election, because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling -- it's a scam -- the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court," Trump told reporters at the White House, in an apparent reference to efforts to increase mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. "I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation, if you get that."
What Might Trump Do?
- Contest mail-in votes.
- Delay or impound mail-in votes.
- Declare the election invalid.
- Ask states to declare a new set of electors.
Nate Silver discusses point 4 in What If Trump Loses And Won’t Leave?
[Suppose] Trump leads in the tipping-point state of Pennsylvania on election night, but because of Democratic gains in ballots counted in the following days, Biden pulls ahead by a few thousand votes. What happens next quickly devolves into a partisan dispute. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signs Pennsylvania’s certificate of ascertainment, confirming Biden’s victory by listing the Democratic electors as the state’s official slate for the Electoral College, while the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature appoints a different set of electors at Trump’s behest as he has claimed there was widespread election fraud.
The Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs the electoral vote counting process, was designed to help Congress decide how to handle such a situation. But it is especially ambiguous on what would happen if the Senate and House disagree on which set of electors should count, which could happen if the GOP retains control of the Senate and Democrats keep the House.
Vice President Mike Pence — as president of the Senate, he would oversee the count in Congress — follows one interpretation of the law, arguing that neither set of electors should count because they conflict. That removes Pennsylvania’s votes from the total number of electors and gives Trump a majority based on the remaining 518 electoral votes.
[In another possible scenario], Arizona was the tipping-point state and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey refused to certify the results to give Biden the state’s electors.
Succession of Power
Silver also discussed succession of power.
Under the 20th Amendment, we know someone must take office on Jan. 20 as president, yet the amendment is curiously silent on how to deal with a dispute over whether someone has actually qualified to take office.
In fact, it’s possible that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could claim that under the Presidential Succession Act, she is next in line to become president and that she would be willing to resign her House seat to serve as president until Biden is ruled the election winner. But if Republicans claimed Trump had won reelection, they very well might object to Pelosi being sworn in.
Silver drew up his examples from many scenarios the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan collection of over 100 experts, explored this summer while researching how a possible election crisis could unfold.
On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won
On August 30, I wrote On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won
That scenario is looking increasingly likely. And polls shows a majority believe that will happen.
An overwhelming majority of mail-in votes will be from Democrats, so unless the race is a total blowout, I fail to see how we can possibly know who won the swing states.
And if Trump is ahead, he almost certain to proclaim victory, followed by theft if he then loses by a small margin.
I do not know, nor does anyone else, but it is a very realistic scenario.
However, all this talk cannot possibly help Trump outside an actual attempt at theft via one of the methods noted above.
Trump's talk will likely not go over well with the majority of fence-sitters who are justifiably terrified by Trump's threats.