Taking a cue from testimony from Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen that the president may not relinquish power should he lose the 2020 election, Daniel Block at the Washington Monthly projected several scenarios where Trump would refuse to step down.
As Block noted, Cohen told a congressional panel, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”
Recalling that Trump has previously claimed that Democrats only win elections because of “millions and millions” of illegal votes, it is likely that the president will claim the election was stolen from him if he is not reelected.
“Now, facing potential legal jeopardy from ongoing investigations into hush-money payments and any number of apparent financial crimes, he might reasonably conclude that staying in office is the only way to avoid being indicted,” Block writes, “So what would it look like if Trump refused to concede?”
According to the author, “The Republican Party has proven more than willing to violate democratic norms where it has local control,” which could lead to them standing by while Trump lingers on.
Among the possible scenarios, he posited, “If Trump lost in a blowout, alleging fraud would accomplish little. Even entrenched autocrats are often forced from office when they are heftily defeated,” however, “Given increasing polarization and the Republican Party’s growing impatience with democratic norms, experts told me the party might challenge even a clear defeat.”
According to Edward Foley, an elections expert at Ohio State University, “I am worried now, given the reaction to 2018, that you could get a dispute over a five-digit number.”
Block then suggested a frightening scenario where Trump cries fraud — and the GOP stands behind him.
“As soon as the Democrat takes the stage to give her victory speech, he unleashes a barrage of tweets claiming that over 100,000 illegal immigrants voted in Michigan and that Philadelphia kept its polls open for hours later than allowed,” Block speculated. “‘Without PHONY voters, I really won!’ he tweets. ‘This is FRAUD!’ Needless to say, the president does not call to congratulate his opponent. At an afternoon press conference, Trump’s press secretary announces he will not concede.”
According to Steven Levitsky, a comparative political scientist at Harvard University, “In the best-case scenario, key Republicans would either talk him down or defect from Trump and say, ‘He’s wrong,’’ before adding, “Trump is still far and away the most popular Republican. If Sean Hannity is claiming fraud on television and Rush Limbaugh is claiming fraud and Mitch McConnell is not willing to stand up and say, ‘No, there was no fraud,’ then we could have a real crisis.”
Even more frightening and recalling the election of President George W. Bush, Block suggests a highly partisan Supreme Court backs Trump up.
“The Trump campaign might sue Democratic-leaning counties for alleged ‘irregularities’ and ask that judges toss out their results.” he writes “‘I can imagine the litigation in Pennsylvania taking the form of saying voting booths in Philadelphia were held open an excessively long time, an unlawfully long time, or the vote counters in some Democratic-leaning county unlawfully refused to count late-filed absentee ballots’” Harvard Law’s Mark Tushnet said. Victory for Trump would ‘mean throwing out the ballots and saying that when those are thrown out, Trump gets the state’s electoral votes.’ That, in turn, would allow him to remain president.”
You can read more even more frightening scenarios here.