Donald Trump has falsely claimed that he is the winner and vowed to go to the Supreme Court to stop the votes for the 2020 election. Many Americans fear for the worst as he continues to undermine the democratic process.
So what happens if Trump loses this year’s election and refuses to leave the White House?
This isn’t the first time this question has become of national importance: Trump has suggested that he will only accept the election results if it was in his favor. Media outlets have explored the constitutional limits he would face in disputing his dismissal from the Oval Office.
Due to Trump’s false claims, Joe Biden’s attorneys and constitutional law experts have moved to counter Trump’s legal challenges on everything from expanding mail-in voting during the Coronavirus pandemic to alleged voter fraud.
Biden insists that federal officials “will escort Trump from the White House with great dispatch” if he loses the election.
The most concerning thing about Trump’s apparent threats to not concede in the election is that the country lacks precedent for even dealing with such a scenario.
The peaceful transition of power is what American society is based on, and in past examples of contentious elections, resolutions have been made long before any refusal to concede.
In previous years, when the presidency was contested in any way, candidates have prevailed in the interest of the peaceful transfer to power.
For example, in the 1960s, Richard Nixon conceded to John F Kennedy amid several accusations of voter fraud by the Democrats. In 2000 Vice president Al Gore accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling that George Bush had won the election even though there were many questions about the integrity of Florida’s voting results.
Paul Quirk, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, told The Independent that it would put law enforcement in a problematic position.
He said, “At some point, the question would become: whose orders do law enforcement obey? Because it would ultimately become a matter of the use of force in one direction or another.”
Nowhere in the US constitution mentions how a president should be removed if they lose the election and refuse to hand over their power to the opponent. So it is hard to say if one would send the FBI, Navy Seals, or whatever law enforcement agencies busting through the West Wing to arrest the recently defeated Donald Trump.
Joshua Sandman, a political science professor at the University of New Haven, said he did not think Trump would ever refuse to leave office after an election because it would destroy his legacy. But he did suggest that the intense congressional and political pressure would force him out of the office quickly.
He said, “The first line of defense would be the Congress, and his party pressuring him out, telling him he must resign or leave.” He added, “If he wants to stay in the White House, he will stay in the White House. But, again, hypothetically, you don’t need that. The White House is symbolic. It’s not a seat of power, necessarily.”
He continues: “All of these are, it’s sort of a work of science fiction. It’s all hypothetical.”
In 2019, during an interview with The Independent, Ross Baker, an American political expert at Rutgers University in New Jersey, predicted what would happen if Trump lost re-election by a very narrow margin.
He said that the scenario would be that the popular vote was won by less than 1% nationwide and that Americans could wake up to tweets from Trump calling the results from the previous day a fraud, and that there was no way that he did not win by huge margins.
Should that happen, Baker says he could imagine the scenario in which the House of Representatives got to decide the electoral college based upon each state’s delegation.
He said, “It would certainly be a constitutional crisis to the first magnitude.”
According, Joe Biden’s campaign released this statement about Donald Trump’s threat not to concede or leave: “The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”