Rutgers Professor ‘Deeply Concerned’ Over Prospect Of Trump Refusing To Acknowledge Potential Defeat In 2020

What would happen if Trump simply chose not to acknowledge the election and refused to leave the White House?

Donald Trump stands onstage at a NATO meeting
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What would happen if Trump simply chose not to acknowledge the election and refused to leave the White House?

A Rutgers University political science professor is “deeply concerned” that Donald Trump may refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the 2020 election if a Democrat wins, especially if it’s close, Yahoo News reports.

Ross Baker sees a potential constitutional crisis — that is, a situation for which there is no prescribed remedy in the Constitution or the law books — if Donald Trump refuses to admit defeat in the 2020 election, instead insisting he is still the president.

“I am deeply concerned about the possibility that a close election that the Democrats win would be interpreted by Trump as not having achieved a mandate,” Baker says.

He points to a number of ways that Trump could “control the narrative” of the outcome of the election, and he could resort to several possible means to delay having to leave office if the election is close, including demanding recounts and appealing all the way to the Supreme Court.

There are multiple points in the process of electing the president and swearing him in at which Trump could try to leverage his power and attempt to nullify the election. For example, once the Electoral College votes to award the nation’s electoral votes, Congress must certify the election. Generally, that’s merely a formality, but theoretically, Republicans could use a close and disputed contest as a grounds for not certifying the election.

a sign directing voters to where to vote
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Barr doesn’t necessarily believe it will come to that, but “you never know,” he says.

Assuming that the election is deemed to have gone to the Democrats, even insofar as appealing all the way to a Supreme Court decision, and Trump still refuses to leave, things could get hairy.

The man who will be tasked with swearing in the winner of the 2020 election, be it Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger, is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. Theoretically, Roberts could simply refuse to swear Trump in despite his insistence that he won the election, and go ahead and swear in the Democrat. Or, if Roberts regards the election as illegitimate, he could theoretically swear in Trump.

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As to what would happen if Trump still refused to cede power, about all that can be done is speculation since nothing like this has ever happened. Could it possibly require military intervention? Yahoo News writer Jerry Adler speculates that this concept is not outside the realm of possibility.

Baker and Adler are not alone is believing, unlikely as it probably is, that Trump may decide to hold onto power if the outcome of the 2020 election doesn’t go his way. Former Trump associate Michael Cohen, for example, testified before Congress that there wouldn’t be a “peaceful transition of power” if Trump loses in 2020. Similarly, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “does not automatically trust the president to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat.”

The best way to forestall Trump trying to muck up the results of the 2020 election, Adler says, is for Democrats to both handily and convincingly win.