Top Republican Ari Fleischer says ‘decent thing’ is to give Donald Trump ‘the days he needs to absorb’ losing – as president tweets that he WON’T accept defeat
- President Trump defiantly refused to concede the president election to Biden
- He said his campaign would launch a new round of lawsuits on Monday
- ‘The simple fact is this election is far from over,’ President Trump said in a statement released by his campaign
- Trump campaign launching lawsuits in battleground states, asking for recounts
- Recounts rarely change the result of a race
How he reacted: Trump furiously tweeted a series of claims about the election
Donald Trump should be given ‘a few days or longer’ to come to terms with his defeat, former White House press secretary Ari Fleishcer said Saturday.
The ‘decent thing to do is let the president himself take the time he wants to absorb this,’ Fleischer told Fox News as he became one of the few Republicans to break ranks and congratulate Joe Biden on winning.
‘It is not easy, and it is extraordinarily close,’ he said of the election result.
‘So if the president needs to take a few days or longer to absorb, ultimately accept, and I think he ultimately will accept the outcome of the people, you have to allow that to happen.’
Fleischer spoke before Trump issued two tweets, one entirely capitalized, saying he ‘won’ and that ‘bad things happened,’ while boasting of his popular vote total, despite coming second in it and the fact the White House is determined by the electoral college.
But the former George W. Bush aide called demands for a concession speech ‘a mistake.’
‘President Trump has always been cut from a different cloth, a much more aggressive argumentative cloth than typical Republican and so, let him at his own pace,’ he said.
He needs time: Ari Fleischer said the ‘decent thing’ was to give Trump the time he needs to absorb defeat
‘I think it would be a mistake to try to demand that president Trump tonight give a concession speech. Let it go at the pace that keeps people together in this country.’
Hillary Clinton conceded to Trump in the early hours of November 9, 2016, and unusually did not speak immediately, instead giving her concession speech later that day in New York.
Trump however has no plans to speak to Biden or meet with him, aides said, and his tweets made clear he is not conceding.
He charged the media with working the Biden campaign to declare a victory. Multiple news organizations called Pennsylvania as going for Biden, handing him the more than 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
‘We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over,’ President Trump said in a statement released by his campaign.
The president was on his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, when the presidential election was called for his Democratic rival.
Trump argued several states would have recounts of their ballots. Georgia officials said there would be one there and the Trump campaign has requested one in Wisconsin. The campaign could also request one in other states with close contests, including Arizona.
‘Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor,’ Trump said.
President Trump, arriving back at the White House after finding out on the golf course that the election had been called for Biden
Trump arriving back at the White House on Saturday afternoon while Biden supporters flooded the area to celebrate his victory
Is this the moment he learned? Donald Trump was on his Trump National golf course in Sterling, Virginia, when the call was made, with a so-far unidentified foursome
President Trump leaving the White House on Saturday for his golf course in Sterling, Virginia
President Trump was playing golf on Saturday when the eletction was called for Joe Biden
Trump takes a swing on his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, on Saturday morning. It’s unclear what time the photo was taken but the networks called the election for Biden at 11.25am
In the rough: Donald Trump now faces a steep uphill path to successfully challenge tens of thousands of vote majorities in the states won by Joe Biden in court by December 8
‘BAD THINGS HAPPENED’: TRUMP’S COMPLAINTS AND WHAT THEY MEAN
‘THE OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTING ROOMS.’
Trump has claimed before that his campaign were refused access to counts, particularly in Pennsylvania. No evidence has emerged that this is the case. A federal judge asked Trump’s campaign lawyer when he sued for more access in Philadelphia how many observers were in the room and was told: ‘A non-zero number.’
‘I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.’
Counting so far says Trump got 70,897,293 votes according to the Cook Report. But Joe Biden got 75,439,774. The popular vote in any case does not determine the election. Numbers of votes disqualified as ‘illegal’ for either candidate are unknown so far.
‘BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.’
The ‘bad things’ has no explanation or basis in what the Trump campaign has tried to claim in court so far. In Georgia they claimed 75 ballots were added after polls had closed when the Trump poll watcher left the room. A judge threw out the case for lack of evidence. There have been other claims of ballots being altered on his sons’ social media but none have been formally made in court.
‘MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM!’
Some states did send mail-in ballots to voters without them being requested to try to stop people coming to vote, as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington all did already. The news states were California, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia. They all announced it much earlier in the year and Trump never sued to try to stop it in court. His campaign is not suing anywhere over these ballots. Trump has claimed repeatedly these would cause fraud but so far has presented no evidence of such a fraud.
‘71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!’
This is true, the previous record was for Barack Obama with 65,915,795. Obama was not on the ballot and the presidential election is determined by the electoral college, which Trump won in 2016 despite losing the popular vote.
Recounts can only be initiated under specific circumstances, and the rules vary from state to state. Regardless of how they’re conducted, recounts rarely change the outcome of a race.
President Trump said more legal action will come on Monday.
‘Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election,’ he said.
He accused the Biden campaign of hiding voter fraud by not cooperating with his team’s request for a recount.
‘It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters. Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access,’ he said. ‘So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.’
Before the race was called Trump showed public reluctance to concede the election amid an internal war among his family and advisers over his next steps.
Shortly before Biden was declared the winner of the contest, Trump went to his Virginia golf club, tweeting in route: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!’
As Trump golfs and tweets, Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer and one of the biggest advocates of the president keeping up the fight, was in Pennsylvania, leading a legal battle go try and win the state – without there is no second term for Trump.
Giuliani held a press conference in Philadelphia with a few poll workers he claimed ‘were uniformly deprived of their right to inspect any part of the mail-in ballots.’
He offered no proof of his allegations but said a lawsuit would be launched by the campaign on Monday.
The president argued in his statement Saturday: ‘In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.’
But Trump’s campaign lawyer conceded to a Philadelphia judge on Thursday that the president’s team did have election observers in the room to watch mail-in ballots be counted in Pennsylvania.
‘I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?’ said U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond, a President George W. Bush appointee, after Trump lawyers conceded that observers had been admitted to the facility.
The Trump campaign was trying to get an injunction to halt vote counting in Philadelphia, a heavily Democratic area that was expected to add to Joe Biden’s vote total.
They argued their observers had been unfairly barred from parts of the city’s ballot-counting area inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
But, under questioning, Trump lawyer Jerome Marcus conceded: ‘There’s a non-zero number of people in the room.’
Diamond urged the Trump campaign and the Philadelphia election board to come to a resolution. The two parties ultimately agreed that a fixed number of observers from each campaign — up to sixty — could be admitted, according to NPR.
The Trump’s campaign suit was then dismissed as moot.
The Trump campaign – for all its lawsuits in the battleground states – have offered no solid proof of voter fraud. And the election observers – volunteers from both parties watching officials count ballots – have flagged no major incidents with the counting.
Quietly, the campaign seems to be preparing for a concession.
No major official from the re-election effort is scheduled to be on one of the Sunday public affairs shows – the all-important programs that set the agenda for a week and would offer Trump’s team a chance to argue the president’s false claim of illegal votes.
But a concession would require one thing: the cooperation of President Trump.
And no one seems to know how to break the news to him.
‘They know he’s lost, but no one seems willing to tell King Lear or Mad King George that they’ve lost the empire,’ one Republican in frequent touch with the White House told The Washington Post.
Trump’s allies are divided into two camps – one led by his family that thinks he still has a path to victory through the legal system and the others who think it’s time to concede.
The Trump campaign has named David Bossie, a Trump adviser who is not a lawyer, to lead the legal challenges.
On Saturday morning, before the race was officially called, Trump fired off a series of angry tweets, making a series of unfounded claims including that tens of thousands of mail-in votes had been ‘illegally’ cast because they arrived after 8 pm on election day, hundreds of thousands more should not be considered because they were not observed being counted and that he had won ‘by a lot’.
He tweeted that his supporters have been banned from observing vote counting in some of the key swing states despite shouting ‘stop the count!’ and that officials had been ‘covering windows’ to block their views and forbidding them from overseeing the process.
He also promised a ‘big’ press conference in Philadelphia, where vote counting continues, where he said his lawyers would be present, then was seen leaving the White House in casual dress.
While in the car, he tweeted a link to a Breitbart story about a ‘glitch’ in vote counting software, then said: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION BY A LOT!’. He was seen arriving at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, shortly afterwards.
In the rough: Donald Trump now faces a steep uphill path to successfully challenge tens of thousands of vote majorities in the states won by Joe Biden in court by December 8
Trump has not yet offered any proof of his claims. His campaign has vowed to file lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada to argue that the results cannot be trusted, and he is demanding a recount in Wisconsin.
President Trump was seen leaving the White House on Saturday morning after firing off a barrage of tweets claiming the election results were fraudulent. It’s unclear where he is going
The President was dressed casually with a white MAGA hat and sweater. He was not seen in person yesterday
Overnight, faith among Trump’s allies seemed to dwindle and calls for him to concede the race mounted.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham prepared viewers for the likelihood that he had lost.
She said: ‘For now, it’s time to take our gains, learned from our defeats, and confidently expand one of the greatest political movements for the past 100 years,’ she said.
WHO COULD TELL TRUMP TO GO?
First Daughter is his favorite child but her tweet that ‘every legal vote should be counted’ and her daughter flashing a v-for-victory sign suggests she is not wanting to concede yet
Trump is known to listen to his wife’s advice but nobody knows what her state of mind is. Previous leaked tapes and her campaign appearances suggest their views are more in line than people had once thought
GEORGE W. BUSH
Only living former Republican president but Trump is known to despise him and even attacked his father George H.W. Bush before his death. Country would listen but would Trump?
There are only two living Republicans who ran for president and failed and one is Mitt Romney. The other is 97-year-old Bob Dole who endorsed Trump and has spoken up for him repeatedly since. He may be the only establishment Republican who could break through to Trump
The ‘grim reaper’ is the most senior elected Republican. If he sees Trump killing hopes of his party keeping the Senate in the Georgia run offs he could bring his scythe to the Oval. But he and Trump are not personally close
Vice president could turn as his own political prospects fade. So far he has appeared loyal but carefully nuanced his language so he does not repeat the most absurd conspiracy claims
FOX NEWS AND RUPERT MURDOCH
Trump’s rise was fueled by Fox’s stars – Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Fox & Friends – so if they start publicly telling him it’s over it might be impossible to ignore. If Rupert Murdoch directly intervenes he might bow to the inevitable
THE TRUMP WHISPERERS
Aides Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino are close to ‘family,’ and Kayleigh McEnany and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders are almost in that category. If they tell him time is up, it might persuade him
Richard Nixon was told to quit by his cabinet. Trump’s is stuffed with loyalists but if Mike Pompeo were to turn as he watches his own 2024 prospects evaporate and another loyalist such as AG Bill Barr speaks out, he may have to listen
THE MANHATTAN FRIENDS
Trump’s real friends have included real estate moguls Howard Lorber and Richard LeFrak and investor Tom Barrack. He is known to listen to them even if they have fallen out previously. Their advice to leave could be influential
THE MAR-A-LAGO CROWD
His Florida club’s members are important to him. Newsmax’s Chris Ruddy may provide him with an immediate TV platform. Billionaire Ike Perlmutter, the Marvel chairman, may want to invest. The Palm Beach delegation could put together an attractive exit package
JOHN ROBERTS AND SCOTUS
The Chief Justice cannot speak directly to Trump but if the Supreme Court simply refuses to hear his campaign’s challenges to the election, it might be enough to end Trump’s quest to stay in the West Wing
She said a Trump defeat did not mean that the ‘America First movement’ was over, but that ‘President Trump’s legacy will only become more significant if he focuses on moving the country forward’.
Donald Trump Jr., who earlier in the week told his father to ‘fight until the death’ and urged their fans not to give up at a rally, posted a photograph of the pair on Instagram in the Oval Office, which he captioned: ‘Thanks for always fighting so hard for America dad, it’s an honor to be in that fight with you.’
It was a softened tone from the angry rally where he said America had turned into a ‘banana republic’ that had to be reclaimed.
The Wall Street Journal – which, like Fox, is owned by Rupert Murdoch – published an op-ed from its editorial board urging Trump to concede.
‘If Mr. Biden has 270 Electoral College votes at the end of the counting and litigation, President Trump will have a decision to make.
‘We hope in that event he would concede gracefully,’ they said.
In its editorial board piece on Friday night, the Wall Street Journal said Trump had ‘accomplished a great deal’ since 2015.
‘He has accomplished a great deal since descending on that Trump Tower escalator in 2015, including his historic first victory and a strong re-election performance when he was supposed to lose in a rout. We’d hate to see that legacy ruined by a refusal to accept the normal transfer of power.
Trump offered no indication that he plans to concede in the run up to the race being called, even as Biden inched closer to victory. The president spent Friday evening tweeting furiously to air a series of fraud conspiracies, and before Biden began his address had tweeted: ‘Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!’
Through the evening he shared attacks on Fox News calling Arizona early in the race, claims that mail-in ballots postmarked after election day were counted and suggestions that poll watchers were barred from watching counts.
In his Friday night speech, Biden urged patience but said he was confident he would win.
Earlier, his campaign trolled President Trump as it became increasingly clear that the Democratic nominee would be the next president of the United States.
‘As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfect capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House,’ Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday.
In his address, Biden added: ‘No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot and to improve the lives of our people.’
‘We may be opponents – but we are not enemies. We are Americans,’ he continued. That didn’t stop him from boasting about wins, however.
‘One of the things I’m especially proud of is how well we’ve done all across America,’ he told a crowd of socially distanced reporters and staff. ‘We are going to be the first Democrat to win Arizona in 24 years. We are going to be the first Democrat to win Georgia in 28 years.’
‘And we re-built the Blue Wall in the middle of the country that crumbled just four years ago: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.’
Biden did not answer questions on whether Trump, who said his opponent could not ‘wrongfully claim the office of the president’, should concede.
However, a spokesman for his campaign said: ‘The United States Government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.’
Biden did indicate he expects a result in the presidential contest on Saturday.
‘I hope to be talking to you tomorrow,’ he said.
He counselled patience as the vote tally continues and anxious Americans wait to learn who will be their next president.
‘I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves very slow and does as low it goes, it can be numbing. Never forget, the tallies aren’t just numbers, they were represent votes and voters. They exercised this fundamental right to have their voice heard.
‘What’s becoming clearer each hour, is that record number of Americans of all races, faiths, religions, chose change over more of the same. It given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism. They made it clear, they want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart. The people spoke,’ he said.
Ironically, minutes after he finished speaking, it was revealed that the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has become the latest person there to test positive for COVID-19.
A United States Marine stands guard in front of the west wing at the White House, signalling that President Trump has entered
He would in theory be critical to a handover of power, but Biden indicated that he and Harris have started the transition process without saying whether they had received help from the Trump administration.
‘We are not waiting to get the work done. We are starting the process,’ he said.
And he vowed to bring the country together.
Biden said he believed people were sick of politics being so nasty.
‘No matter who you voted for, I am certain of one thing: the vast majority of those 150 million Americans who voted, they want to get the vitriol out of our politics. We are not going to agree on a lot of issues, but at least we can agree to be civil with one another. We have to put the anger and the demonization behind us it’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to try.
‘My responsibility as president will be to represent the whole nation and I want you to know that I will work as hard for those who voted against me as those who voted for me. That is the job. That is the job. It’s called the duty of care for all Americans,’ he said.
Trump is yet to react to Biden’s remarks, however he did fire off a series of retweets on Twitter supporting his claims of voter fraud and cheating as his opponent spoke.
Minutes after Biden finished speaking, it was revealed that the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has become the latest person there to test positive for COVID-19
Among the tweets was one by co-founder of Real Clear Politics Tom Bevan who criticized Fox News’s early call in Arizona, where Biden currently leads by a slim margin.
Bevan called the move ‘totally unnecessary’ while pointing to how they waited hours to make a call in Florida when Trump was up by three points.
Trump also retweeted a clip of Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman who was re-elected on Tuesday, who told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the situation was ‘worse than we thought’.
Jordan said people in Pennsylvania were ‘allowing votes to come in after the day’ – something which the courts ruled could happen, provided the ballots were postmarked by election day.
He also railed at ‘the transparency issue’, claiming – without evidence – that election monitors like Dave Bossie were being asked to leave.
‘This is the first time in history that you have a party systematically set out to win the election after the election, and it has to be stopped.’
Trump tweeted: ‘Incredibly stated Jim!’
Earlier he also tweeted: ‘I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by. Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!’
Demonstrators celebrate and dance at the ‘Donald Trump is Over’ party in Washington Square Park in New York City
Donald Trump spent Friday evening tweeting furiously to air a series of fraud conspiracies
People listen to Biden’s speech from Delaware through speakers outside the White House, as votes continue to be counted four days after Election Day
People gather during a demonstration held by supporters of democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden at Washington Square Park in New York
Read Joe Biden’s late-night address to the nation in full
We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers tell a clear and convincing story: We are going to win this race. Just look at what has happened since yesterday. In 24 hours, we were behind in Georgia. Now we’re ahead and we’re going to win that state.
Twenty-four hours ago, we were behind in Pennsylvania, and we are going to win Pennsylvania, and now we’re ahead. We’re winning Arizona. We’re winning Nevada. In fact, our lead just doubled in Nevada.
We’re on track for over 300 Electoral College votes. And look at the national numbers. We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us. We’ve gotten over 74 million votes. Let me repeat that: 74 million votes. That’s more than any presidential ticket has ever gotten in the history of the United States of America. And out vote total is still growing.
We’re beating Donald Trump by over 4 million votes, and that margin is still growing as well. One of the things I’m especially proud of is how well we’ve done across America.We are going to be the first Democrat to win Arizona in 24 years. We are going to be the first Democrat to win Georgia in 28 years.
And we re-built the blue wall in the middle of the country that crumbled just four years ago: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin – the heartland of this nation.
I know watching these vote tallies on TV move very slowly, and as slow as it goes it can be numbing.
But never forget: the tallies aren’t just numbers – they represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voice heard. And what is becoming clearer each hour is that a record number of Americans – from all races, faiths, religions – chose change over more of the same.
They have given us a mandate for action on Covid, the economy, climate change, systemic racism. They made it clear they want the country to come together – not continue to pull apart. But while we’re waiting for the final results, I want people to know we are not waiting to get to work done and start the process.
Yesterday, Senator Harris and I held meetings with groups of experts on the public health and economic crises this country is facing. The pandemic as you know is is getting more worrisome all across the country.
Daily cases are skyrocketing, and it is now believed that we could see spikes as many as 200,000 cases in a single day. The death toll is approaching 240,000 lives lost to this virus. That’s 240,000 empty chairs at the kitchen tables and dining tables across America.
We’ll never be able to measure all the pain, the loss, and the suffering so many families have experienced. I know how it feels to lose someone, and I want them to know they’re not alone. Our hearts break with you.
And I want everyone to know on Day One, we are going to put our plan to control this virus into action. We can’t save any of the lives that have been lost, but we can save a lot of lives in the months ahead.
Senator Harris and I also heard yesterday about how this recovery is slowing because of the failure to get the pandemic under control. More than 20 million people are on unemployment. Millions are worried about making rent and putting food on the table. Our economic plan will put a focus on a path to a strong recovery.
We both know tensions can be high after a tough election, the one like we’ve had. But we need to remember, we need to remain calm, patient, and let the process work out as we count all the votes.
You know, we’re proving again what we have proved for 244 years in this country: democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how hard people try to stop it. I will not let it happen. People will be heard. Our journey toward a more perfect union, and it keeps moving on.
In America we hold strong views, we have strong disagreements, and that’s OK. Strong disagreements are inevitable in a democracy, and strong disagreements are healthy. They’re a sign of vigorous debate, of deeply held views.
But we have to remember: the purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare. No. The purpose of our politics, the work of the nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot, to improve the lives of our people.
We may be opponents – but we are not enemies. We are Americans.
No matter who you voted for, I’m certain of one thing: The vast majority of the 150 million Americans, they want to get the vitriol out of our politics. We’re certainly not going to agree on a lot of the issues, but we can at least agree to be civil to one another. Let’s put the anger and the demonisation behind us.
It’s time for us to come together as a nation and heal. It’s not gonna be easy, but we have to try.
My responsibility as president will be to represent the whole nation. And I want you to know that I will work as hard for those who voted against me as for those who voted for me. That’s the job. That’s the job. It’s called a duty of care, for all Americans.
We have serious problems to deal with — Covid, the economy, racial justice, climate change. We don’t have any more time to waste on partisan warfare. And more than that, we have such an incredible opportunity to build the future we want for our kids and grandkids.
I’ve said it many, many times: I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of our nation. There is no reason we can’t own the 21st century. We just need to remember who we are. This is the United States of America, and there has never been anything, anything we’ve been unable to do when we’ve done it together.
I hope to be talking to you tomorrow. I want to thank you all. May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.
Trump is yet to react to Biden’s remarks, however on Twitter he retweeted a series of posts supporting his claims of voter fraud and cheating as he spoke
Earlier on Friday the Supreme Court ordered all late mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania to be counted separately, as Joe Biden continued to pick up steam.
All Pennsylvania counties must temporarily segregate ballots that arrived after 8pm on Election Day under an order issued by Justice Samuel Alito Friday night following an appeal lodged by Republicans earlier to exclude those votes from the total count.
Trump’s campaign had filed a motion to block a decision by the state’s highest court that allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday’s Election Day that are delivered through Friday.
Alito on Friday agreed to set those votes apart however, it came after Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar had already instructed county boards to separate them – limiting Trump’s ability to claim the court order as a victory.
Most of the votes are believed to favor Biden, and Republicans say they should be disqualified under Pennsylvania state law. The concern is that if they are mixed with other ballots, it would render any attempt to disqualify them impossible.
But whether or not those ballots are ultimately counted seems unlikely to affect who gets the state’s 20 electoral votes now that Biden is leading by a 28,877-vote margin, as of midnight.
As of late Friday, there were approximately 89,000 mail ballots still to be counted in Pennsylvania, with the majority in Allegheny County, the second largest county in the state.
Additionally, there are potentially tens of thousands of provisional ballots that remain to be tabulated, though an exact number remained unclear. Those ballots will be counted after officials verify their eligibility to be included.
Allegheny could be what brings Biden to 270 electoral votes. The county includes Democratic strongholds of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where he holds 80.78% of the vote.
Biden’s plans to address the nation had prompted an angry tweet from Donald Trump sent from the White House where he had spent the day reportedly fuming as he watched television and spoke to confidantes.
His legal path to challenging the election unclear and his mathematical path to retaining power apparently almost closed, Trump railed: ‘Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!’
Then he tweeted – apparently somewhat plaintively – that his initial ‘big leads’ had vanished, something which election watchers had predicted for weeks before the election.
‘I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by. Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!’ he tweeted.
But vote tallies in Pennsylvania and Nevada showed Biden’s lead – not Trump’s increasing.
In the White House, Trump’s inner circle were scrambling to work out how to tell him he had lost, while he vowed defiantly to pursue legal challenges to the count in a series of states, claiming he was fighting for ‘election integrity,’ the day after an extraordinary 17-minute tirade claiming he was the victim of a ‘conspiracy’ and that counting the votes was part of the ‘fraud.’
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney earlier on Friday said it was time for Trump to ‘put his big boy pants on’ and concede.
It’s REALLY not over – how Donald Trump has 74 days when he can try to upend Joe Biden’s victory, bring the country to the edge of constitutional crisis and even refuse to leave the White House
AFTER THE ELECTION: THE DATES YOU NEED TO KNOW
NOVEMBER 23: All swing states election results are certified by this date
DECEMBER 8: ‘Safe harbor’ deadline which means the statutory deadline for resolving disputed results. If the states have followed correct procedures, whatever the result is on Dec. 8 stands, even if one side still disputes it
DECEMBER 14: Electoral college electors are chosen and sworn in
JANUARY 5: Georgia run-off elections for two Senate seats, determining who controls the Senate
JANUARY 6: Congress certifies the Electoral College votes
JANUARY 20: At midday the new president is sworn in and assumes all of the powers of commander-in-chief – including the ability to direct the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals to remove unwanted White House guests
Joe Biden being declared the victor in the 2020 presidential race by TV networks and the Associated Press is not the end of the road for Donald Trump.
Calls giving Biden 279 Electoral College votes and possibly more to come are only the start of a legal and constitutional process which Trump can try to turn into a battleground.
It is without doubt an astonishingly steep climb for Trump and his aides – and one which no apparent loser has ever tried before.
The dispute even raises a protocol question – can Joe Biden correctly be called president-elect if Trump has not conceded?
Here we offer a roadmap to 74 days which could rock America.
REFUSING TO CONCEDE – SO WHEN WILL THE REPUBLICANS TELL HIM TO GO?
President Trump made clear within minutes of Biden being declared the victor that he he has no intention of conceding and bowing to the vote counts in Pennsylvania that include mail-in ballots.
There have been cracks among Republicans about Trump’s initial posture of claiming he ‘won’ and fighting a vast war of litigation.
So far, there have been restrained rebukes from retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, former Sen. Rick Santorum, both of Pennsylvania, and an assertion by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that expressed faith in the vote and backed up Trump’s right to sue.
‘Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not,’ McConnell tweeted Friday.
More than two hours after the call the only senior Republican to congratulate Joe Biden and call him president-elect was Mitt Romney – who had voted to remove Trump from office.
The president’s family has provided vocal defense, and son Donald Trump Jr. turned up the heat on leading Republicans to demand they step up more – a reminder of the potential political cost among Trump’s base of sitting on the sidelines.
House and Senate Republicans had a much better election than many of them expected, in part by executing a strategy of tolerating Trump’s outbursts and avoiding direct confrontation with him. Public condemnation of Trump’s false claim that he won would be a new tack.
Many senior retired military figures of public renown already distanced themselves from Trump.
Trump spent election night huddling with former campaign managers Kellyanne Conway and Corey Lewandowski, as well as former press secretary Sarah Sanders, who all will play a role helping him steer through the next few months.
‘He’s not blind to the reality of what the results are and he’s going to be talking to his lawyers and he’s going to be pretty frank with them,’ Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a Mar-a-Lago member who talks to Trump, told DailyMail.com.
He said he thinks Trump has a strong legal case in his election suits. Asked who might bring bad news to Trump if he didn’t prevail, Ruddy responded: ‘He has a history of taking his own counsel. I think he’ll do his decision on that based on that.’
As Trump gets counsel from his inner circle, the relentless process of election counting and certification will continue.
There are key dates beyond Election Day on the political calendar that provide at least a framework of what will happen.
Trump claimed the election was ‘rigged’ and said falsely that he won states like Michigan that he didn’t carry
Each state has its own deadline for counting and then certifying votes. In Georgia, which currently has a razor-thin Biden lead, the secretary of state certifies the vote to the governor on November 20. In Pennsylvania, county boards of election must file returns with the commonwealth by November 23.
Officials in North Carolina are anticipating a recount after November 20, a process that itself could take another week .
Dec. 8 is the statutory deadline for resolving election disputes, and the end of so-called safe harbor.
As days go forward and votes come in, the networks will end up calling more races, which presumably would grow Biden’s electoral vote total.
By that point race that looked closely divided on election night will start looking less close. Biden could even win as many as 306 electoral votes – the same Trump 2016 margin that Trump frequently casts as a blowout. Meanwhile, his popular vote margin will fill in, allowing Biden to continue to boast he won more votes than any other candidate in history.
The stronger Biden’s lead grows, the greater the potential political price for some of the more extreme measures in Trump’s toolkit – namely an idea floated before the election for the state legislature in Pennsylvania to ignore the voters and submit its own slate of electors.
Trump Jr. retweeted talk radio host Mark Levin when he issued a ‘REMINDER TO THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATURES, YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY OVER THE CHOOSING OF THE ELECTORS … SO GET READY TO DO YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY.’ But it was an idea immediately shot down by the Republican Pennsylvania Senate majority leader.
His father followed up Friday morning seeking to rally allies to his cause: ‘With the attack by the Radical Left Dems on the Republican Senate, the Presidency becomes even more important!’ he tweeted.
BIDEN BECOMES PRESIDENTIAL AND UNVEILS HIS CABINET AND HIS CORONA PLAN
Biden will create more inexorable motion by behaving more and more like the duly elected nominee – as he did with a Thursday speech where he began talking about a briefing he received on the coronavirus. The more he talks about his agenda, his cabinet, and his team, the more he will take on the aura of the next president.
The Secret Service dispatching additional agents to protect him is just one of many moves that will pump him up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the first top official Friday to call him ‘president-elect.’
Trump can seek to counter this with his own actions, but presidents have always had the right to continue actions during a presidential transition.
Biden’s campaign trolled President Trump as it became increasingly clear that the Democratic nominee would be the next president of the United States.
‘As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfect capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House,’ Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday.
Any moves by Biden to look ‘presidential’ could force disconnect if Trump directs most of his comments to his increasingly desperate legal strategy and grievances about the vote count.
That is a disadvantage that always accrues to the challenger in a recount or disputed election election situation, even when there is a legitimate challenge. Trump already had to field a question about whether he was a ‘sore loser’ during his angry statement to the press Thursday evening.
A big unknown before the election was whether protests or street violence would play a role in voting. They didn’t. But mass demonstrations could impact the count, or even serve to spoil ballots in an extreme situation. The 2000 ‘Brooks Brothers riot’ helped stop the count in Florida.
There were already protests outside counting facilities in Detroit and Arizona. If Trump and Biden supporters believe they are being mistreated and take the streets, it could lead to chaotic scenes, which Trump could seek to add to his narrative about the prolonged count.
Still absent since the election is any signal from Attorney General Bill Barr about whether he has seen evidence to back up Trump’s claims of fraud.
COURT OPTIONS RUN OUT AND THE WALLS CLOSE IN
The legal battles will run their course over fall and winter, but ultimately will run into hard deadlines set by the law and the Constitution.
Recounts will slow but not stop the process. A recount Trump’s campaign says it will demand in Wisconsin must be paid for by the campaign – to the tune of an estimated $3 million.
The RNC is now looking to raise $60 million to fight for Trump in court, an effort which will be led not by a James Baker figure, but by David Bossie, an off-again on-again member of Trump’s inner circle, once cast out over claims he was profiting from the president’s name, but now reconciled.
Trump’s team has already moved to try to get the Supreme Court to revisit a decision about Pennsylvania accepting ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 after that date.
But depending on the size of Biden’s lead, they may not even make the difference in the race.
The court, which now holds a 6-3 conservative majority thanks to Trump’s pre-election bush to get Amy Coney Barrett on the court, traditionally defers to states on setting their own election laws.
Trump’s campaign has been blasting out email appeals for his election defense, promising a 1000 per cent match to ‘FIGHT BACK!’
The costs of battling in every venue with complex litigation will add up.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal woes on another front will not subside.
Authorities in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office have been investigating Trump’s financials and whether he violated tax laws by overstating the value of assets, misleading lenders, or took tax deductions worth millions that he wasn’t entitled to.
Trump’s son Eric gave a deposition just days before Election Day, and the New York Times has reported numerous disclosures from Trump tax returns it obtained, including that he paid only $750 in individual income taxes in 2016.
Trump first fought off handing over his tax returns by claiming he was immune as president from investigation, a tack which failed 7-2 at the Supreme Court. He is trying to get the case back to the high court claiming he is the victim of a fishing trip.
He is also being sued for libel by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of rape, and an attempt by AG Bill Barr to take over that case failed.
And there are questions over whether the Manhattan DA’s federal counterparts, the fiercely-independent U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York are looking at people around Trump, having already indicted Steve Bannon and Rudy Guliani’s business partner.
Complex legal questions about whether a president can pardon himself are sure to emerge as Trump’s final days approach.
Trump could also seek to issue blanket federal pardons to those around him who could face prosecution, as he did when he commuted Roger Stone’s sentence when the longtime advisor was on the verge of heading to jail.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, with Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski (C R), speaks outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on November 5, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump’s lawyers are suing in multiple venues
WILL THE ULTRA-LOYAL FOX NEWS STARS DESERT HIM?
Trump knows he is facing not just a legal fight but a media war. His early morning Election Day call in to Fox News included repeated attacks on the network.
The channel’s polling unit infuriated him when it called Arizona with substantial vote still out, although Biden still was leading in the state Friday.
So furious was Trump, Vanity Fair reported, that he pleaded directly with Rupert Murdoch to reverse the call – which the Australian billionaire refused to do.
Fox evening anchors have continued to note that Trump has not yet provided evidence of his claims of fraud, including a campaign charge that 10,000 Nevada voters weren’t registered to vote in the state and voted fraudulently.
The network showed Biden’s leads in blue in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania on its ticker Friday, with Trump leading only in North Carolina, shown in red.
Anchor Bret Baier continued Friday to refer to Trump’s charges as ‘accusations of irregularities.’
‘We are not seeing any evidence of widespread voter fraud,’ he told Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.
Cohost Martha McCallum said ‘transparency and watching ballots is different than finding fraud…we just haven’t seen it.’
‘Biden Leads in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada,’ said a Fox News Alert headline Friday.
But so far Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and ‘judge’ Jeanine Pirro remain in the fold.
Trump has previously listened to Carlson’s advice not to bomb Iran and to take COVID more seriously, so if he or another one were to split, it would also begin to fracture Trump’s supporter base between their TV network and their president.
DECEMBER 8: THE ‘SAFE HARBOR’ DEADLINE WHICH SUNK AL GORE
No matter how much Trump litigates, a fixed deadline known as the ‘safe harbor’ deadline will be bearing down on him.
This year, it occurs Dec. 8.
The deadline, fixed in in federal law, states that if elections are contested and a state has followed its procedures to determine results by the deadline – six days before the Electoral College meets – that the results are considered final.
The Supreme Court issued its Bush v. Gore decision on December 12, when the deadline occurred in 2000, on the day of the deadline.
It effectively froze the election in place, since the decision sent the case back to Florida for further action but there was no time to take it.
Florida’s then-secretary of state Katherine Harris had already certified the state’s electors for George W. Bush. Democrat Al Gore conceded the following day.
CAN TRUMP CAUSE CHAOS AT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE ON DECEMBER 14?
States meet separately so that their electors can vote.
This is when states where Republicans hold the levers of power can seek to overturn the vote count in states that went for Biden on the grounds that the vote has been ‘corrupted.’
Pennsylvania GOP leaders signaling they will seat the electors chosen by the people would seem to take away one scenario – having a Republican legislature supplant the choice for Biden with their own determination.
But the move can’t be considered dead until the date passes.
After Mark Levin’s tweet that got promoted by Donald Trump Jr. on state legislatures having the ‘final say,’ Trump loyalist Sen. Lindsey Graham told Trump ally Sean Hannity on Fox News: ‘Everything should be on the table.’
No state legislature has taken such a move since the 19th century. The law limits the opportunity to act to instances where the voters ‘failed to make a choice.’
It was discussed in Florida before the Bush v. Gore ruling but no serious Republican figure endorsed it at the time.
Such a move would certainly invite its won court challenge.
If it happened in states where the race ultimately gets called for Biden, like Georgia, Wisconsin, or Arizona assuming that happened, states would send two rival sets of electors to the Congress.
This could set in motion political mayhem when Congress meets.
JANUARY 5: REPUBLICANS MUST WIN GEORGIA SENATE RUNOFFS AND TRUMP COULD DRAG THEM DOWN
Two Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate throw more uncertainty into the balance of power.
It puts tremendous power into the hands of Georgia voters, and sets up a high-octane political battle with massive fundraising certain to follow.
The race could provide an incentive for Republicans to avoid overturning the will of the voters, out of concern they would pay a price at the polls in a live election environment.
THE NEXT DEADLINE: CONGRESS CERTIFIES THE VOTE – ANOTHER CHANCE FOR DISRUPTION ON JANUARY 6 OR WORSE A REAL CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
Congress meets in a Joint Session January 6 to count the electoral votes, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding.
When the Electoral College meets in person on December 14, fixed in law as the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, Congress gets to have its say.
This is where there could have been a real fight in the event of a 269 to 269 Electoral College tie, which seems to have been avoided.
When states present their electors, there is an opportunity for lawmakers to register an objection.
Such a move seems at least possible, given the loyalty Trump has seen among both House and Senate Republicans, and how GOP senators have backed his legal challenges to date.
A Republican who objects to a state’s vote might earn chits with Trump, who found eager defenders in the Capitol during the Mueller probe and impeachment.
The joint session of Congress would then be briefly suspended so that each chamber could vote on whether to accept the objecting.
However it would have to be agreed to by both houses to take affect – giving the Democratic-controlled House the ability to block GOP efforts to overturn state electors.
The most daunting scenarios would come if the split houses seek to approve different sets of electors.
Clearly if Democrats win in Georgia the day before that is moot – but if they do not, Mitch McConnell could force through his own slate of electors who vote for Trump.
If that happens, Biden and Trump could each claim to have secured the presidency, in a dark scenario laid out in the Washington Post, with unknown results.
There is no playbook after that, and no law to turn to for an answer.
Far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones rallies the crowd of Trump supporters who have been protesting in the parking lot at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center as ballots continue to be counted inside the building on November 5, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. Protests are likely to continue as Trump wages legal warfare
LAST DAYS IN THE BUNKER AS NATION MOVES ON – SO WILL HE ORGANIZE A MASSACRE OF HIS ENEMIES AS THE INAUGURAL STAGE GOES UP?
The final days of an outgoing Trump Administration have long loomed as a question mark.
Trump’s advisors sent one signal by publishing a new FDA regulation the day after the election that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Friday. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said his panel would keep acting on Trump judges.
Even in the days leading up to the campaign the administration put out new regulations on gray wolves and lifting federal protections on Alaska forests
Trump has already indicated he may seek to make personnel changes in the final days.
He has hinted at firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, although Fauci does not report directly to him.
He also has grumbled about FBI Director Chris Wray, the subject of attacks by former advisor Steve Bannon and others.
Trump has also indicated dissatisfaction with Attorney General Bill Barr, who has been quiet since the elections. A broader purge of the bureaucracy is possible.
The danger for Trump is making more enemies who might have information they can use against him.
There were reports Friday that demoted campaign manager Brad Parscale is shopping a book, and Trump has had to endure a series of tell-all books from angry former aides, including some who signed non-disclosure agreements.
President Donald Trump declared that he ‘won’ the election, but now faces increasingly daunting electoral math, setting up a chaotic fall and winter before the likely end of his term in office
When the NDAs are with Trump – not the government – courts have held, they cannot stop a publisher from publishing but would allow Trump to sue afterwards, creating a potential First Amendment clash.
NDAs with the government may be easier to enforce, but there has been no litigation to suggest exactly how federal judges would land on a government official writing a book exposing a president’s potential wrongdoing in breach of an NDA.
Trump also can use the days between now and January 20 to try to install more officials in political and career posts – flipping his complaints about ‘deep state’ careerists on its head and seeking to continue his policies after he leaves.
A signal emerged Wednesday that McConnell might try to hold up Biden cabinet secretaries illustrates how lower level officials could wield influence long after January 20.
Amid the machinations, the state of play of a coronavirus relief package with the potential to benefit millions of Americans remains murky. Both Pelosi and Graham spoke about it as a live item on Friday, but Trump may have less incentive to dedicate billions to state virus relief on his way out of office after claiming the nation was already ’rounding the turn.’
All the while, planning for inauguration proceeds on its own timetable. Capitol employees will secure an area on the East Front, unless there is a radical change due to coronavirus.
Plans will go forward for staples of presidential transitions, which include a capital draped in American flag bunting, a traditional luncheon inside the Capitol, and a program that usually stresses the shared values of the peaceful transfer of power.
As the inauguration approaches, Trump and his team will face continuing questions about whether he’ll show up, as Hillary Clinton did for his inauguration in 2017.
There is also a traditional photo-op at the White House for the outdoing president and the president-elect and a shared limo ride – assuming he goes to the Inauguration.
JANUARY 20: WHAT IF HE WON’T PHYSICALLY LEAVE THE WHITE HOUSE?
Biden during the campaign brushed off questions about a peaceful transfer of power when Trump refused to commit to one. Trump said he would accept the results of a ‘fair’ election – a term he certainly hasn’t used this week.
Biden has held back. ‘We’ll have an election in this country as we always have had, and he’ll leave,’ he said.
There are small steps those around Trump could take to send a message.
Non-political aides control the in-house email system. Career Secret Service agents control the White House admittance system. Military aides who report to senior officers handle the nuclear football,
Democrats have warned about potential document destruction, something that is difficult to achieve in the digital era.
The coming days will reveal which aides stand by Trump’s side to the bitter end.
The final rally tours before the election featured shout-outs to those who have been with Trump from the beginning, like former press aide Hope Hicks, who Trump called on stage.
Sarah Sanders, his vocal defender as press secretary, also took a turn. Longtime aide Dan Scavino accompanied him around the country, and continues to hold access to his Twitter account.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner has been at Trump’s side, even if he was reluctant to dance to YMCA at October rallies. First Lady Melania Trump ended up being a vocal defender, but attended a single campaign rally.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was the only aide with Trump as he made his defiant claim he ‘won’ the election at the White House Thursday.
All those in Trump’s circle will have to consider not only their loyalty to the president and his appreciation for them, but their own legacies and financial future, with Lincoln Project members calling for those who ‘enabled’ Trump to be branded and denied outside work. Alternatively, they could stay close until the end as allies lay plans for a restoration of Trump or an offshoot Trumpist forces in 2024.
The ultimate Biden nightmare is that Trump effectively barricades himself inside the White House while the new president is sworn in.
In that nightmare, Biden rides back to the White House in the Beast and has to decide what to do with his predecessor.
Biden’s campaign mocked the idea Friday, saying: ‘As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election.
‘And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.’
That is true – the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals, and even the U.S. Park Police all report to Biden from midday on January 20. He can simply ask them to escort Trump – and whoever else is with him – out of the White House.
A specific law protects the White House and other ‘restricted’ federal property – and the punishment for breaking it is a maximum of a year in federal prison.
So in that scenario, Trump could be Biden’s guest for a while longer, just not in the White House.
SO COULD HE TAKE A PLEA BARGAIN?
A backdrop for much of Trump’s presidency has been his own potential criminal exposure, amid the Mueller probe, an impeachment, and federal prosecutors in New York combing over his business actions before he became president.
During his House testimony, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen stated that Trump would inflate the value of his business holdings to get loans, while lowballing financial information at tax time.
The New York Times reported on tax return information that Trump engaged in instances of ‘outright fraud’ through tax schemes. Prosecutors in New York have indicated they are investigating Trump for possible bank and insurance fraud. Cohen is serving jail time in part over his role in facilitating hush payments on Trump’s behalf to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump himself was identified as ‘Individual 1’ in court documents pertaining to the case.
With constitutional scholars split on whether Trump could pardon himself to avoid prosecution, a plea bargain remains one possibility. If prosecutors believe they may have difficulty bringing a case against a former president, they may have an incentive to make an accommodation. The situation regarding Trump’s multi-year audit by the IRS remains murky, and it is unclear if the independent agency would even be ready to resolve any outstanding matters before the president leaves office.
Trump may have an incentive to put his legal house in order before Congress finally obtains his returns or potentially obtains government information Democratic lawmakers have been seeking for years without success.
Another unknown is whether Biden, as president-elect, would in any way consider a pardon or another signal of an end to investigations in order to induce Trump to relinquish power. When asked about his posture during the campaign, Biden has said he would leave it to career prosecutors at the Justice Department to decide what to do.
The start of Biden’s Senate career coincided with Gerald Ford’s controversial Nixon pardon, so he is familiar with the partisan fury it created. He also campaigned with a call for reconciliation and a return to bipartisan cooperation, although he must work with a Congress with an energized left and that is filled with members furious at Trump administration stonewalling and what its members say are crimes.
There is yet another opportunity to get his legal exposure wiped clean: get Vice President Mike Pence to do it for him. The strategy was laid out by Michael Cohen – who himself pleaded guilty to crimes – on MSNBC. ‘
‘My theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president will take office. And during that time my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him,’ Cohen said. ‘It’s a very Nixon type of event.’
AND YES THERE IS A NUCLEAR OPTION: THE 25TH AMENDMENT
Trump cannot retain power as a man alone in the White House.
If he has lost the support of even Mike Pence and his cabinet, there is a chilling possibility: they remove him through the 25th Amendment, finding him unfit to discharge the duties of office.
They would have to use the Section IV powers of the amendment which describes how the president can be removed from office if he is incapacitated and does not leave on his own.
The vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ must write to both the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, saying that ‘the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’
The term principal officers of the executive departments would normally mean the cabinet secretaries.
So at least eight of the president’s 15 most senior Cabinet members together with the vice president must agree that a president should be removed before any plan can move forward.
That group is made up of the Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Labor Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Energy Secretary , Education Secretary, Veterans Affairs Secretary and Homeland Security Secretary.
Notifying the House Speaker – Nancy Pelosi – and the Senate president pro tempore – Republican Chuck Grassley – is the act that immediately elevates the vice president to an ‘acting president’ role.
The deposed president can contest the claim, giving the leaders of the bloodless coup four days to re-assert their claims to the House and Senate.
Congress then has two days to convene – unless it is already in session – and another 21 days to vote on whether the president is incapable of serving. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required to make that determination.
As soon as there is a vote with a two-thirds majority, the president loses his powers and is removed, and the vice president stops acting and is sworn in as president.
But if 21 days of debate and votes ends without a two-thirds majority, the president gets back his powers.
Alternatively, Congress could set up its own mechanism to decide if he is fit for office – maybe a commission, or a joint committee.
Pence would still have to agree with its conclusion and then write formally to the Speaker and president pro tempore.
Pelosi in fact took steps towards that, unveiling in October legislation both House and Senate would need to pass to create a commission made up of former presidents, vice presidents, and other figures including former secretaries of state, attorneys general or surgeons general.
The legislation went nowhere but if Trump was deserted by his party and Pence but not members of his cabinet, it could be rushed through in hours and the commission convened rapidly to force him out.