If Donald Trump Refuses To Step Down After 2020 Defeat, Nothing Is In Place To Stop Him, Law Professor Warns

Jonathan Vankin

Donald Trump has repeatedly hinted or "joked" about the possibility that he will refuse to step down from the nation's top office if he loses the 2020 presidential election — even posting to Twitter suggestions that if he won a second term, that wouldn't be enough for him, and that he would plan to run in 2024 as well, as The Inquisitr reported.

Back in February, Georgetown University law professor and former National Security Council official Josh Geltzer published a lengthy op-ed for CNN.com, in which he warned that Trump's "jokes" may indeed not be jokes at all. In fact, Geltzer wrote, the possibility that Trump will attempt to simply ignore any election defeat and keep his clutches on power indefinitely is a real one.

"Trump is increasingly proving himself to be a President eager to overstep his authority," Geltzer wrote, citing Trump's attempts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 election, and Trump's own declaration of a non-existent "national emergency" at the southern border, as a pretext to grab funds for a "border wall" that were denied by Congress.

"In light of these overreaching assertions of his own authority, it's at least plausible that Trump might attempt to cling to power in ways previously unimaginable by an American president," Geltzer wrote.

Geltzer listed four "checks" that could stop Trump if he refuses to leave office: the Electoral College, Congress, state governors, and the United States Defense Department. All, Geltzer wrote, should now be pledging to support a peaceful transition of power, and take any necessary actions if Trump refuses to allow a peaceful transition to occur.

"I'm an optimistic guy, but I have to be less sanguine," Geltzer told Slate.com. "Because, seven months later, I haven't seen any of these checks taking seriously this concern."

None of the institutions that Geltzer says would serve to stop a power grab by Trump have taken any steps to so much as promise to stop him.

"They don't seem to be making those commitments," Geltzer said in the Slate.com interview. "This is about ensuring that valid election results are respected, whichever way that cuts. That shouldn't be controversial."

Geltzer has not been the only knowledgeable figure issuing warnings about the president potentially clinging to power after an election defeat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also warned in May that Trump would likely dispute any result other than an overwhelming landslide defeat, according to The New York Times.

Trump's former lawyer and personal "fixer" Michael Cohen also warned in congressional testimony that "there will never be a peaceful transition of power" if Trump loses in 2020, while the president himself has repeatedly said that he should receive two years added on to his current term due to the various investigations into his role in the 2016 Russian election attack, as The Inquisitr has reported.