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Impeachment or lost election: What if Trump just refuses to leave?

10/05/2019 3:25 pm ET Dara Brewton
How many times can Trump make the same joke before it smacks of truth?

Source: Pixabay

Trump appears to have finally found the straw to break his Presidency’s back with his wildly inappropriate call to the leader of the Ukraine demanding an investigation into Joe Biden

Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has announced there will be an official impeachment inquiry, and she is feeling quite confident about it.

The inquiry certainly seems to be ruffling Trump’s feathers, as he has taken to rapid-fire tweeting:

How many times can Trump make the same joke before it smacks of truth? 2

There are plenty of people enjoying the recent turn of events, celebrating the possible end of the Trump presidency. In fact, #impeachmentparty has popped up on Twitter over and over again.

Yet, amid all the celebration, there is one small worry that some have brought to light: What happens if Trump won’t leave office?

In the past, the American people could count on three things to keep a sitting president from abusing executive power to keep the Oval Office:

  1. Personal integrity
  2. Media scandal
  3. Congressional oversight

The current political climate and Trump’s history leave many in doubt that any of those concerns would even give Trump pause, much less stop him from acting exactly as he saw fit.

Trump has proven that he has very little integrity. He lies constantly, uses taxpayer money as his own personal piggy bank, and thinks nothing of walking away from agreements with U.S. allies.

He also doesn’t care about media scandals. Headlines during his presidency have ranged from “Trump’s lawyer says he paid $130,000 to porn star ahead of election” to  “Trump shows doctored hurricane map.”

However, the American people may not be able to depend on the legislative branch for support. The level of corruption associated with the Trump administration reached monstrous proportions before impeachment was even on the table. Plus, many Republican lawmakers are still hanging on for Team Trump — most importantly, Moscow Mitch McConnell, who is still all-in for the Corrupter-in-Chief.

But no matter the outcome of the inquiry, what if he simply refuses to step down?

Even before the impeachment inquiry, there was plenty of speculation about the fact that Trump may refuse to leave the Oval Office when his time as president comes to an end.

He continually claims that he has done nothing worthy of impeachment. Calling the telephone call with Ukraine “perfect.” He has even gone so far as to solicit help in his vendetta against Biden from China while speaking to reporters on the White House lawn.

The President is insistent that he has the right to ask foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents and that he has not committed any crimes.

His refusal to believe he has committed a crime may cause him to reject the validity of his removal from office, should that come to pass. He may simply decide he has a right to stay in the Oval Office…indefinitely.

Trump has already made numerous statements about staying in office longer than the Constitution allows. While it is true that he always follows these types of comments up with a disclaimer that he is only joking. The sheer number of times he has made the “joke” should be concerning.

Here are 9 separate times he has made comments to that effect:

#1: At a fundraiser in Florida, Trump muses on emulating Chinese president Xi Jinping and becoming president for life:

#2: In front of the White House, Trump asks if he can end term limits:

#3: While giving a speech to the Wounded Warriors, he “jokes” about staying in the Oval Office for 14 years:

#4: On Twitter, he wonders if his base would “demand” he stay in the White House longer:

#5: A couple of days later he shares a video of being president for life:

#6: Another “joke” about going for a third and fourth term:

#7: Talking to reporters on the lawn, he mentions staying for 14 years:

#8: On Twitter, he muses about whether he should get more time in the White House:

#9: At a campaign speech in Fayetteville, he is again talking about going for an extra term:

 

A “joke” can only be made so many times before it starts to sound like it’s not meant as a joke.

So, what happens if Trump refuses to leave office? The question has plagued a number of people including Josh Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the NSC, who posed that very question several months ago.

Michael Cohen made a similar comment to Congress, “I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Pelosi made mention of that same worry to the New York Times.

One professor of political science told the UK Guardian: “At some point, the question would become: whose orders do law enforcement obey? Because it would ultimately become a matter of the use of force in one direction or another.”

According to Geltzer, there are a few checks that should prevent Trump from refusing to vacate the Oval Office: the electoral college, Congress, the defense department, and state governors. Yet, those checks don’t feel quite so certain as they once did, especially in the current climate of our country which seems to tolerate or even encourage all of Trump’s antics.

Geltzer laid out what he thinks we need to ease some of the worry in a recent Slate interview:

“We need political leaders—especially Republicans—to make clear, both publicly and privately, that for Trump to contest the valid results of an election would be a redline, and that he’d have zero support from them—indeed, impassioned opposition from them—should he cross it. We need it sooner rather than later, too.”

Before the Trump presidency, something as simple as what Geltzer suggests above would be a sure thing. It is hard to imagine that any lawmaker, no matter their political party, would fail to make such a promise.

And yet…

Luckily, Graham isn’t the only voice within the Republican party, and there are a few of his fellow GOP lawmakers that are speaking out against Trump. Let’s hope they can bring others to their cause.

 

 

 

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