…from the White House?
As soon as the press started projecting a win for Biden, incumbent President Donald Trump signalled he won’t be “conceding”. The question, of course, is if he sticks to that, “what then?” The first thing we have to deal with is whether there’s any law stating he must “concede” that he lost. And the answer is “No!”
Yup! That right! Trump would be breaking no law if he sits tight. Up to now, all of the previous 43 Presidents who lost – or decided not to run – did issue “concession” statements and congratulated the other guy (and they’ve all been “guys”) in the race. So, this “concession” statement must be seen as what it is – a custom. But what democratic governance has shown – especially in the British system that’s considered the fountainhead of parliamentary governance – is that customs are as important as the stated law. As a matter of fact, England doesn’t even have any “stated law” (otherwise known as the “Constitution”!). Everyone’s supposed to “do the right thing”. Gentleman’s agreement and all that, old chap!
In the US, however, they DO have a Constitution – and, as a matter of fact, they were the ones to INVENT Constitutions as the instrument to determine what folks in Government ought or ought not to do. So, from this perspective, the US Constitution (20th Amendment) simply states that the incumbent remains in office AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES until noon of Jan 20 of the year following the elections. The Constitution also permits him to challenge the results of the elections –- as when he said, “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated!”
But that ain’t gonna be so easy. He’ll have to start in the lower courts with specific claims about the count or the process to which he’s objecting. His people (Republican supporters) already brought a plethora of these cases in several states during the count – and they were all dealt with. The same will apply to any case Trump might file and while he’s said these will go all the way to the Supreme Court, that’s not a certainty.
In 2000 when Democratic candidate Al Gore challenged the count in Florida which showed George W Bush with just 500 more votes than his count and went to the Supreme Court to stop a recount, the Court split 5-4 with Gore losing. It’s very unlikely that the Supreme Court – even with a majority of Conservative members right now – will overturn the count in more than one state – as is necessary to change the result.
Biden’s gonna be President for the next four years.
…till Jan 20, 2021
But with all the arguments about the Courts and what they’ll decide – Trump still has two full months to go as President plus to take all sorts of moves and make all sorts of decisions. He has now become, in US political parlance, a “lame duck” President…who theoretically has diminished INFLUENCE – but NOT diminished POWERS!! For instance, Trump is free to make decisions with little fear of consequence, such as issuing executive orders, pardons, or other controversial edicts.
Not too long ago on his last day in office Jan 20, 2001, hours before he officially demitted office, outgoing lame-duck US President Bill Clinton was widely criticized for issuing 140 pardons and other acts of executive clemency – including for two former close colleagues, donors, fellow Democratic members, and his own half-brother. But his decisions weren’t reversed!!
With all the accusations swirling about him and his dealings with Russia and China for instance, do not be surprised if Trump makes similar actions!
…and it’s “no go”?
If Trump refuses to leave on Jan 20, what then!? Biden said the military would remove Trump “with great dispatch”.
But more likely, the Secret Service, which protected him till then, will escort him out of the White House.