While political observers and legal experts have long warned that in the event of a 2020 election defeat, Donald Trump may simply refuse to step down and vacate the White House, the question has rarely been put to the Democratic presidential candidates who would be tasked with handling the massive constitutional crisis. But on Wednesday, during a CNN town hall broadcast, former Vice President Joe Biden was asked that very question by an audience member.
Though the question, as seen in the video below on this page, at first drew laughter from the audience and even a chuckle from Biden himself, the former vice president quickly changed his demeanor, calling the matter “serious.”
“It’s a serious question. A serious concern,” Biden told the CNN town hall audience, following up by posing a “rhetorical question” to the crowd.
“Did you ever think in your lifetime, no matter how young or old you are, any person would be able to ask that question, to be taken seriously?” he said. “I’m not joking. Our democracy is at risk.”
Biden then attempted to answer regarding his personal plan for a response, should Trump attempt to remain in office by somehow challenging the legitimacy of a possible electoral defeat in November. But the Democratic hopeful said that due to the adversarial approach the president has taken toward the country’s top military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, he has “no worry about him being escorted out of the White House.”
Q: What would you do if President Trump loses the election but refuses to concede?
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 27, 2020
University of Denver political scientist Seth Masket, however, noted on his Twitter account that though he “enjoyed” Biden’s answer, nobody should “have to rely on soldiers disliking Trump” in order to remove him from the White House in the event that he loses this year’s election.
There’s a chance Biden may be overestimating the dislike toward Trump within the military. According to a Voice of America report, nearly half of all military families now say that Russia is a United States ally — a misconception that experts attribute to their acceptance of the president’s perceived sympathetic view toward Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.
According to author Seth Abramson, who has authored two New York Times bestselling books on Trump, the president’s refusal to step down would simply involve his refusal to vacate the White House. Per his analysis, Trump already has a “step-by-step” plan for holding on to power that would rely on the media and the court system.
As Abramson speculated, Trump would first cast doubt on the election results, likely by claiming that a foreign government interfered in the election on behalf of his opponent. After inserting those allegations into the media, the president’s lawyers would file multiple lawsuits challenging the election results on the basis of the “interference,” allowing conservative judges to grant injunctions that would keep him in office until the controversy is settled, he added.