If Trump is still in the Whitehouse after Joe Biden is sworn in as president, he will be trespassing. He will no longer have presidential powers, and if refuses to leave, will be dragged out kicking and screaming by the secret service. For the Democrats robbed of the usual inauguration fanfare due to covid restrictions, the spectacle of Donald Trump being dragged out of the Whitehouse and thrown to the curb will be a nice conciliation prize for not getting to see a crowd at the inaugural ten times the size of the crowd who showed up for Trump's inauguration.
Republicans envision a different scenario. Trump goes to Mara Lago for Christmas and never returns to the Whitehouse. He holds a rally at the same time as Biden's inauguration, drawing a much bigger crowd, because social distancing is not in his supporters vocabulary. There he declares himself the winner of the election, claims Biden stole it with millions of illegal votes, then perhaps has Giuliani swear him in for another term in a ceremony that has no legal standing. From there he hops onto a jet to whatever country doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States, and lives the rest of his life as a fugitive, only possibly returning for a run in the 2024 election.
Both scenarios assume Biden will be sworn in as President on January 20th, and Trump will either leave or get chased off the property. What they do not take into account is if Trump is able to hold onto power and remain in office. In other words, pull off a successful coup. Currently Trump and his supporters were attempting a coup, which if pulled off, they could claim was legal and constitutional, and Biden would have gone down in our history books as a candidate who almost stole an American election, even if all evidence shows that isn't true. This is a coup Trump had announced he and the Republicans would try months earlier when he said the election would be decided in the Supreme Court, which was why they needed to rush the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett before the election. Although all of the lower courts have thrown out Trump's suits against the election itself, the hope was the conservatives on the Supreme Court, especially those who Trump had confirmed, would put their party above the constitution and order an election overturned in favor of a Republican candidate.
This was never going to be the slam dunk Trump was hoping for. True Republicans wanted Barrett installed prior to the election just in case the results ended up in the courts. But this were assuming the fight would be over mailed in ballots arriving after election day, but were postmarked prior to election day. Trump had done his best to slow down the postal service so that ballots would arrive too late. However, despite Trump's efforts, most of the mailed-in ballots arrived prior to election day. This only left Trump to argue that there was voter fraud. However, his lawyers have yet to produce a single piece of evidence any fraud has occurred. This last ditch effort to overturn the election is pitting Republicans against Republicans. Specifically, Republicans in other states arguing that the Republicans in the swing states Biden won did not have the right to change their own election laws. Basically arguing against States Rights, something conservative judges usually uphold. For the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Trump, they would not only be going against their own constitution, but their own ethics. All to reinstall a president who doesn't even represent their Party's core beliefs. And did I mention they all have life appointments, and do not need to worry about any political backlash for not supporting Trump?
Now that the Supreme Court has rejected the Texas lawsuit, and assuming Trump will have no more legal challenges, his last chance to prevent the Electoral College from formerly electing Biden is to convince the Republican legislators of states Biden won to ignore the popular vote in their respective states, and send electors to the Electoral College who will cast votes for Trump instead. This has been done before. But after an election where mass fraud was still possible and actual evidence of fraud existed. Trump's claims of fraud are at best baseless guesses, and most likely deliberate lies. Everyone who has investigated the election, even Trumps own people, have said no evidence of fraud exists. His court cases thrown out because his lawyers are unable to provide any evidence of their allegations. So if Republican legislators overturn the election, they can't claim fraud as the reason. They would have to admit they were going against democracy just so their candidate would win. Which could easily be political suicide as voters of those states will seek revenge once those legislators are up for reelection.
If the legislators of the swing states refuse to send Trump electors to vote at the Electoral College, he could still appeal directly to the members of the Electoral College to change their votes for him. There have been electors who voted against the candidate they took an oath to vote for, but never enough to overturn an election. Just a few who protest voted for another candidate. But really, convincing that many Electors to change their votes is not likely. The best possible scenario would be for Trump to convince enough of the electors to flip their votes that no one gets enough votes to win the election, and it is thrown to the Senate to vote for the next president, and the Republicans all vote for their party's candidate instead of upholding the will of the people.
So if the Electoral College elects Joe Biden, then that's it. Trump officially lost the election and Biden officially won. Only Biden can be sworn in on January 20th and Trump can't. Even Trump himself said he would abide by the results of the Electoral College. But he also said the American tax payers would not be paying a cent for his border wall, that he was such a great negotiator that Mexico would be paying for it. When Mexico laughed that off, Trump ended up using American tax money to pay for sections of what passed for a border wall, and even shut down the government to try and force Congress to finance the rest of the wall. Trump only keeps the promises he wants to keep. And he intended to have the election results overturned before the Electoral College votes.
Much of the reason for Trump attempting to overturn the election results is because he refuses to admit defeat. If the results are overturned, he can claim victory, even if everyone else believes he stole an election from the real winner. But the other part is his desire to stay in power. The College officially electing Biden will only make his defeat official. But it will not take away his desire to remain president. Even if the Electoral College makes Biden's win official, Trump is still the president for another month. And still in power. And left with the only option for remaining in power, to size control the way strong men and dictators have been doing it for centuries.
There is too much assumption our constitution can prevent him from doing this. If he attempts a coup then there are sufficient officials in Washington to tell him no. That government agencies will obey the law over his orders. That if a coup is attempted that everyone, including his Republican allies, will simply ignore him. That the headlines the next day will be "Trump Orders Coup And No One Listens To Him." But if everyone had been obeying the constitution this past four years, he would have been driven from office long ago. Especially after being impeached. Half of Washington seems too eager to bend to Trump's will. They have allowed him to slide on disastrous policies, inflammatory tweets, and even numerous violations of laws, both minor and major, that would have seen the impeachment of any other president. Will his same enablers back him if he attempts a coup?
An alarming number of Republican congressmen, over 100 at last count, endorsed the last ditch effort to overturn the election in the Supreme Court, even though the suit seeks to invalidate state sovereignty, and is clearly anti-democracy. Many other Republican congressmen refuse to say Biden won the election. The question is will these same politicians who support Trump's bid to overturn an election support him in his bid to overturn a country.
As president, Trump has the ability to order nationwide martial law. Most likely with the excuse that the election had been rigged, and the only way left for him to protect democracy is to take dictatorial powers so he can root out the offenders from our government. Then comes the bloodiest step. Biden and Harris will be arrested, of course. As will every Democrat in Washington. All to be replaced with Republican loyalists. Then every critic in the media is rounded up. News papers, websites and channels not loyal to Trump will be shut down. Criticizing the President will be seen as treasonous. They all could end up in reeducation camps, but more likely paranoia among the conspirators of the coup will want many of the political prisoners executed.
There will be tribunals, all which come to the conclusion that the election was rigged, that almost all the votes Biden/Harris got were illegal, and hundreds of millions of Trump votes were thrown out. Not to mention that Trump won the popular vote in the 2016 election and Russia was never involved. There will be battered looking public officials willing to confess to all of this in court. And forget about the Internet. Moments after the coup begins the internet will be shut down. You can't have 100 million critics of Trump posting on social media. And with the removal of Social Media comes the crackdown on everyone even slightly suspected of being against Trump. All committed by Trump loyalists installed in power on the local levels. That includes a Trump supporting friend or family member who you once criticized Trump in front of.
Trump will claim this is all temporary, but that is what all dictators say. He will have his Republican toadies in Congress repeal the amendment forbidding him from more than two terms, followed by a sham of an election where he gets 100% of the vote. Or maybe he simply gets Congress to declare him president for life. Or maybe even throw out the constitution and adopt a new one where he is a king or emperor. He will be in power for life, even if all his supporters realize he is not the leader they believed he was and want him gone. And once time does what Americans couldn't do and removes Trump from office when he dies of old age, or more likely bad health from too many Happy Meals, then those of you reading this who are still alive get to witness the spectacle of the various factions fighting over which should succeed Trump as the next leader. The Ivanka and Jarrett faction, the Don Jr faction, the Melania and Baron faction, the Mike Pence faction, and the factions representing different high ranking generals.
Okay, now let's say that either everyone ignores Trump's orders to commit a coup, or not enough government officials will back him, or more likely the coup is so poorly organized that it fails. That's it, right? Trump finally loses, and is arrested for treason to boot, right. Well, there is still one more move left to Trump. Revolution.
Or more specifically, a civil war to install Trump as president. Because you can't call it a revolution unless you win the damn thing. Half of Congress refuses to acknowledge that Biden beat Trump, and vows to support Trump's claim to a second term. Meanwhile millions of Trump supporters take to arms to overthrow the corrupt government that tried to steal the election from Trump. Usually the solution to putting down an armed rebellion is for the president to order the armed forces to do so. But Trump will not, so nothing is standing in the armed mobs way except for local authorities, maybe half of which are Trump supporters themselves. If the revolution succeeds then Trump is install as the leader and anyone seen as his enemy is either dead or on the run.
But more likely one of two scenarios will happen. One is the country breaks apart and becomes a warzone for the next decade as insurgents carry on fighting even after one side captures Washington. The other where a foreign country such as Russia offers to ally with one side, then ends up capturing our country for their own empire.
That is if a major civil war even breaks out. The biggest possibility is no organized Trump army materializes. But instead pockets of insurgents causing mass civil unrest that lasts until all the armed insurgents are either captured or killed. Which could still result in thousands of deaths and millions of dollars in damaged property. After which Trump can deny any affiliation with the insurgents, and even blame the attempted civil war on Biden.
So let's say neither an attempted coup nor attempted revolution succeeds. Or never goes beyond the discussion phase. It is January 20th and there is nothing to stop Biden from being sworn in, right? Actually there is one possibility left. Since Trump and a significant amount of government officials insist Trump won, then they simply have him sworn in. Trump can easily order the parks department not to allow Biden onto the Capitol steps at the last minute, then go there himself and have a supporting justice swear him in. This would normally not be legally binding. And the constitution doesn't specify a specific location where a candidate should stand during the swearing in ceremony, which means Biden could be sworn in at his hotel if he is prevent from entering the Capitol. But it does mean that two presidents were sworn in. And it is up to members of the government to recognize which president is legit. You could have half the government recognizing Trump as president and the other half recognizing Biden as president. There is no solution in the constitution for this. Sure, the Supreme Court could decide that one or the other is legally the president. But as long as the losing side of that Supreme Court decision refuses to yield and half of Congress continues to recognize him as president, it could be a constitutional crisis that drags on for weeks, months, maybe years. Back when Democrats were convinced Bush stole the election from Gore, there were demands that Gore be sworn in regardless of the Electoral College. This went nowhere as Gore himself ceded the election to Bush after the Supreme Court decided it, but constitutional scholars had a field day speculating what would happen if two competing presidents were sworn in. And their conclusion was that no remedy existed aside from both sides coming to an agreement. But most likely the decision will be forced when the armed forces choose which president they recognize as commander and chief. Unless the armed forces are split over who they will recognize, and you have the Army and Navy recognizing one president and the Air Force and Marines recognizing the other.
At this point all of this is just speculation. The assumption is now that it is clear the Supreme Court will not reverse the election for Trump that the rest of the Republican party will finally accept Biden as the next president. But then again, we were all sure Trump had no chance of winning either the nomination or general election in 2016. Every time we think things can not get much worse, they get worse than we imagined. Whenever we think a politician couldn't sink that low, they sink even lower than we imagined they would. The Republicans blatantly stole a Supreme Court nomination from Obama, so can we say they are not above stealing an election so clearly for the opposing candidate? The only thing for certain is that Trump will not be out of office until he is out of office.
CE Taylor (author) on December 12, 2020:
"What you have stated is a far fetched theory and not plausible. All the same it was nice reading your article"
If I had said last summer that Trump would rush another conservative judge into the Supreme Court so if he lost he could ask them to reverse the election results, would you have thought that was far fetched? Would you have thought it was far fetched if I had said Trump would replace the head of the Post Office with one of his loyalists, and the loyalist would deliberately remove the sorting machines and millions of post office boxes so the mail would take longer to be delivered and mail in votes would arrive after the deadline, would you have thought it was far fetched? When it comes to Trump, I don't think anything is far fetched. The question is, how many others can he get to go along with his attempts to steal an election? Fortunately no judge, not even conservative judges, will overturn an election just to put their party in power. The question is how many others in government have the same scruples.
BTW, there are a couple of other moves I think Trump could possibly try to stay in power, but as they have not been mentioned anywhere else, I don't want to be the one who could possibly give Trump those ideas. Maybe I will add them to this article once Biden is safely sworn in and Trump is no longer the president.
MG Singh from UAE on December 11, 2020:
What you have stated is a far fetched theory and not plausible. All the same it was nice reading your article