As articles of impeachment near a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump has reportedly become increasingly "agitated and aggravated," tweeting at a record pace and issuing repeated statements condemning impeachment as a "hoax" and Democrats as "sick" or "crazy." But even though Republicans in the Senate appear unlikely to support his removal from office, fears among political and legal observers are growing that the president may simply refuse to leave office — even if he loses the 2020 presidential election.
Last week, conservative American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein issued a dire warning that, not only might Trump refuse to concede defeat in the election, he will "do anything" to hold power, even staging what amounts to a coup. Ornstein said that the possibility that Trump may "suspend" the election, or even declare martial law to remain in the White House should no longer be considered "fanciful, alarmist or crazy."
On Sunday, journalist Amanda Marcotte — author of the book Troll Nation — echoed Ornstein's warning that the president will refuse to leave office. Marcotte, writing on her Twitter account, also cautioned that she often hears "liberals" express "fantasies that law enforcement or the military will remove Trump."
But none of those things are likely to happen, Marcotte wrote, adding, "no one is here to save you."
But Marcotte was not alone on Sunday in voicing her fears that Trump will stage a coup by defying the 2020 election results. Sirius XM host Dean Obeidallah, appearing on the MSNBC program AM Joy — as seen in the video below — said that the president has been "priming" his base of supporters to back his seizure of unconstitutional power, with his series of "jokes" about serving in office beyond the end of his term.University of Colorado at Boulder law professor Paul Campos also expressed similar fears, in a post on the legal blog Lawyers, Guns & Money published Sunday, December 15.
Citing statements by senate Republicans that they have had already decided to acquit the president in his impeachment before the senate even holds its trial, Campos warned that "this is also the essence of authoritarianism."
Campos said in his blog post that a takeover of the U.S. government by Trump acting as an authoritarian dictator "can happen here" and is "happening now."
In her Twitter thread, Marcotte also warned that "Democrats need a real plan" for dealing with a Trump coup. Even if a Democrat wins the 2020 election, and is sworn in on January 20, 2021, the president may nonetheless refuse to leave anyway.
"So now you have two 'presidents,' Marcotte wrote — also warning that media may report the Constitutional crisis as "both sides" having a legitimate claim to the presidency.