I’ve harbored a thought for some time that’s seemed like pure fantasy but now others in the opinin’ business are talking about it. Even the loquacious George Will. Something that’s never happened in our system of government. But, it might.
Suppose D. Trump either doesn’t get to finish his term for some constitutional - or criminal - reason or he loses at the polls in 2020. Will he walk peacefully out of the White House?
Or, if he makes it to the 2020 election, and he loses, will he accept the results and step aside? Ex-Presidents always have. But, would he?
Talk about a “constitutional crisis!”
Now, you can add another voice to that thesis: Michael Cohen. In last week’s testimony at a congressional hearing, he said “Given my experience of working for Mr. Trump, I fear that, if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” BOOM!
We’ve always prided ourselves on the ability to elect one or more candidates to office and change administrations without a fuss. Even in the worst of times, we’ve always transitioned and kept right on going.
Out here in the desert, I’m beginning to think the odds of Trump acknowledging a loss at the polls are about 60-40 no.
He’s said before - in 2018 - he wouldn’t accept losing. “Election fraud” and “voter fraud” and all that. A number of times, he’s railed against all sorts of imaginary enemies and promised, if the results went against him, he’d ignore them.
There are several options to enforce an election outcome. One is in the Electoral College. But, suppose some delegates refuse to follow the popular vote at home and vote their own way. It’s happened before but only in small instances. Remember, too, Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 but still won the election. In that same Electoral College.
Then, there’s Congress. Congress must verify election results. But, the basis on which to do so is - wait for it - what’s certified by the Electoral College. Would the present Congress refuse to verify? Would Congress authorize a second election? Could it? Very, very deep constitutional waters there.
How about the courts? Would our Supreme Court step in? Happened with Bush-Gore and the Florida outcome. Would SCOTUS tell Congress to do it all over or accept the numbers it has. Would Trump accept a loss in a court decision?
And, how about a possible faceoff at the White House front door. What would the Secret Service and the FBI do? After January 20, 2020, Trump may not be president but will he leave?
Then, there’s the possibility of a nervous military.
I know all this is imaginary at the moment. A lot of rambling by an old guy. But, I’m not the only one with an imagination fueled by Trump. Some of the national writers are moving the possibility of a Trump refusal to vacate from discussions at the corner watering hole to the pages of respectable media forums. And there’s Cohen.
In his own disastrously mercurial way, Trump has operated as if the rest of the world was his personal fiefdom. He’s ignored protocols, treaties, contracts and, in some cases, even the law. He’s made enemies of friends and supposedly “friends” of enemies. Wildly unpredictable. He also has a following of some 30-million or so folks that have and will likely continue to support him in whatever he does.
So, maybe a little speculation about Trump refusing to accept the outcome of losing re-election to our nation’s highest office is not totally far-fetched. Maybe it’s worth thinking just a bit about the possibility. What if ...