10 November 2020
A week ago today, also a Tuesday, was election day in the United States.
The day seemed go on forever, for days, before it became apparent that Joseph Biden had won and the media networks ‘called’ the election.
It is, however, only apparent that he will be the next president: votes need to be certified by the States, the electoral college needs to meet, there needs to be a meeting of Congress to announce the winner, and so on.
There is therefore a possibility that something somehow could happen which would prevent Biden becoming president.
That said, on the information currently available, any legal challenge brought by Trump does not seem to have a realistic chance of success.
It is easier to threaten a case than to win one.
And for any legal challenge to prevail there needs to be substantial evidence and credible legal argument.
Law is not magic, and a party will not be granted a remedy just because of displeasure or disappointment.
Any (serious) lawyer for Donald Trump should be assessing the extent to which the evidence and arguments available really add up to dislodging the entirety of the majorities being reported in the key States.
There may, of course, be ‘non legal’ reasons for not conceding defeat: vanity, an attempt to create a false narrative, a desire to continue with fund-raising, an exercise in contriving some leverage for a ‘deal’ exchanging cooperation on transition for immunity from prosecution, and so on.
But such ‘non-legal’ reasons ultimately depend on the credibility and substance of the potential legal challenges.
Unless Trump and his legal team can fashion a good legal argument, then the votes will be certified, the electoral college will meet, Congress will approve, and so on.
And so, unless something exceptional and currently unforeseeable happens, Trump will cease to be the President of the United States on 20 January 2021, by automatic operation of law.
At which point, if he remains in the White House without permission, he would become a mere trespasser on federal property.
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