“There will be no peaceful transfer of power”: can Trump cancel the election and remain president
In the US, they are increasingly saying that because of the epidemic of coronavirus infection, presidential elections may be postponed to a later date. Donald Trump himself joked many times that he was not averse to completely abolishing the vote, becoming the head of state for life, writes Air force.
The fact that Donald Trump may try to postpone or completely cancel the upcoming presidential elections in November, his most likely opponent, Joe Biden, announced at the end of April. For the third month in a row, the former US Vice President talks with his supporters only by video link and does not leave his own home in Delaware.
“Mark my words,” he warned during another webcast. "I think that he will somehow try to postpone the elections, come up with an explanation why they cannot be held."
According to almost all polls in the United States, most Americans are unhappy with the actions of the authorities during the epidemic. The current president’s support level, according to the Washington Post-Ipsos joint study, fell to 43%. According to a recent poll by CNN, only 36% of voters believe that Donald Trump’s words about the measures the government is taking can be trusted.
The outspoken opponents of the democrats are confident that the White House can really postpone the presidential election in order to save Donald Trump's chances of re-election.
"Given the depth of the political hole that he dug for himself ... Before the presidential election, does anyone really think that the president will be afraid to use the coronavirus as an excuse to postpone or cancel the next presidential election?" - Juan Williams, political analyst for conservative Fox News, wrote in The Hill.
In the White House itself, they still prefer to answer evasively about questions about a possible postponement of the election due to the epidemic.
“It's not my decision to make that decision,” Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to the US president, told Time magazine. "I'm not sure if I can say yes or no, but now the plan is to hold the elections [on time]."
Why did the US even talk about postponing elections?
Ohio Republican Governor Mike Devine announced on March 16 that Democrats’s next-day primaries were postponed due to a coronavirus epidemic.
The governor made the decision at the urging of Dr. Amy Acton, head of the state health department. Prior to this, she was the one who made Ohio the first state in the United States to close schools, sports clubs, bars and restaurants on March 15th.
One of the courts immediately recognized the governor’s order to transfer the primaries unconstitutional, but in response, Dr. Acton simply closed the polls with his authority, citing an emergency epidemiological situation and a threat to public health. The state Supreme Court later upheld this decision.
After almost three weeks, the Ohio authorities announced that the primaries would still take place, but that the vote would be in absentia, and all voters who did not manage to vote in advance would receive ballots by mail.
By the middle of May, the example of Ohio was followed by 17 US states, whose authorities, due to the epidemic, also decided to postpone the timing of the preliminary elections. A month later, the National Convention of the Democratic Party, which was supposed to open in July this year, will be held.
No one has blamed the initiators of the postponement of voting in different states of the United States for political commitment, however, observers believe that a precedent was created in Ohio, which the current administration can take advantage of in the fall.
“If by November the White House decides that Trump will inevitably lose to Biden, they will use any options,” Stony Brook University professor and political scientist Jonathan Sanders said in a conversation with the BBC Russian Service.
How much time did Trump measure himself
Donald Trump never really hid that he was not going to leave the White House either in November 2020, or even later, after the expiration of his second term.
Speaking at a rally of his supporters in Pennsylvania last December, he announced that he would leave the presidency "in five years, nine years, 13 years, 17 years, 21 years, 25 years, 29 years."
"This is a joke. Just to infuriate the press, ”the US President added then.
Over the past three and a half years, the head of the White House has used this "joke" at least two dozen times.
In another series of messages on Twitter, published early last year, he promised that he would "definitely leave his post in six years." Then he added: "Maybe in 10 or 14 (just kidding)."
In March 2019, speaking to the Republican Party sponsors in Florida, Donald Trump praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping after the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China lifted the rule prohibiting the head of state from staying in power for more than two terms.
"He's now president for life and he's great," Trump said. - Look, he was able to do it. I think it's great. Maybe we should try to do that someday. ”
A month later, during a reception at the White House, he again stressed that he "could" remain in power "for another 10 or 14 years."
In May 2019, Trump retweeted tapes made by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and influential evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell. Both said that the president lost two years due to the investigation by Special Prosecutor Mueller, "attacks of the Democrats and the press", so he can either be re-elected not only for the second, but also for the third time, or simply increase the current term of stay in the White House by two years.
A month later, Trump suggested on Twitter that American voters could "demand that I stay [in power] for a longer period."
Trump supporters argue that the head of the American state, so famous for his eccentricity, is simply mocking his opponents.
But people who know the president of the United States closely and have worked with him for many years are sure that the head of the White House does not think to joke. During a hearing in the U.S. Congress, former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen even suggested that he was not going to leave his post even after losing the election.
“Given my experience of working for Mr. Trump, I'm afraid that if he loses the elections in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transfer of power,” he said.
Why put off the election
According to the US Constitution, only Congress can postpone the date of voting for presidential elections. Three other federal laws in the United States set the exact and unchangeable date of this vote - "Tuesday after the first Monday in November." This norm has not changed since 1845.
Back in mid-March, University of Kentucky electoral law professor Josh Douglas explained on his Twitter that even the imposition of a state of emergency in the country does not give the president the right to change the date of the vote.
"The imposition of a state of emergency does not abolish the Constitution," he wrote.
Moreover, the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution states that "the term of office of the President and Vice President ends at noon on the 20th day of January." Specialists in constitutional law usually explain that this amendment will remain in effect even if the vote does not take place at all, and on January 20, 2021, Donald Trump, no matter what, will have to leave the White House.
Nonetheless, observers believe that the authorities can use the epidemic to support Trump without violating the provisions of the Constitution. As noted by the Nation magazine, it is “not difficult” to imagine a situation when, on election day, Republican governors “in connection with the new outbreak of coronavirus” will declare strict quarantine with a ban on leaving their homes in districts where they support Democrats. In districts voting for Republicans, such measures will not be introduced, and their inhabitants can safely come to the polls.
Another “tool” could be attempts to interfere with remote voting. In the context of the epidemic, 35 out of 50 US states have already allowed their residents, without additional conditions and without explanation, to receive absentee ballots, and five states have fully introduced a mail-only voting system.
Other states are developing their own absentee voting systems in a fire order, believing that by November the epidemic may not end, and most Americans would prefer not to risk going to polling stations.
In such a situation, the outcome of the election will largely depend on how the State Postal Service (USPS) works. In recent months, US postal service providers have repeatedly warned that the sharp increase in the volume of mail during the epidemic put service on the brink of bankruptcy. By the end of the year, the size of the losses could be $ 13 billion, and USPS executives believe that without the financial assistance of Congress, the service may cease operations altogether already in September this year.
According to sociologists, not too successful actions during the epidemic almost did not affect the so-called nuclear electorate of Donald Trump. But the Republicans consider almost the main threat to Trump to expand the turnout that the postal service can provide.
In April, the US Congress approved the next CARES Act economic assistance program, which, among other things, allowed the postal service to borrow from the state treasury in the amount of $ 10 billion. The administration threatened to block this initiative.
“We made it very clear that the president would not sign the law if it included money for the postal service,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post. "I don't know if he is using his veto, but the president will not sign it."
In his Twitter, Trump has repeatedly stated that remote voting increases the risk of manipulation and fraud in the vote count.
At the same time, back in March on Fox News, he unexpectedly admitted that he did not want to support the postal service because in an epidemic, the uninterrupted operation of USPS would become a problem for Republicans.
"The aid package proposed by Congress is such a scale of voting that if you ever agree with it, you will never see that this country will vote for a Republican again," Trump said.
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