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Does Trump Realize an Election Delay Might Mean President Pelosi?

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:09 PM
W. E. Messamore
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:09 PM
  • Donald Trump finally floated the idea of delaying the November election – just as Joe Biden predicted.
  • The date of the election isn’t up to the president. The Constitution designates that as the prerogative of Congress.
  • It’s not a serious suggestion. It’s a way for Trump to preemptively be a sore loser.

Well, it finally happened. President Donald Trump suggested delaying the 2020 election Thursday morning.

It’s an echo of his 2016 claims that the election would be rigged. Back then, polls and pundits were sure Hillary Clinton would prevail at the ballot booth. Trump needed a good alibi to save face when the seemingly inevitable happened.

Donald Trump Finally Went There

Four years later, the Donald is looking desperate again:

donald trump delay election
In 2016, Trump contested the election results early, repeatedly warning they’d be rigged. He’s back to his old tricks again. | Source: Twitter 

In April, Joe Biden predicted this would happen :

Mark my words: I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow; come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.

Some conservatives scoffed, but Biden nailed it.

With election day drawing nearer, Trump is far behind Biden in the polls . The president trails the former vice president by 8 points nationally. He’s lagging his challenger in key battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

When his prospects looked this dim in 2016, Donald Trump leaned into his “rigged election” messaging.

The former “Apprentice” star is a sore loser even before he’s lost, or knows for sure what the outcome will be.

There’s one big logistical problem for Donald Trump as he floats the idea of putting the election under quarantine. The president doesn’t get to decide the date of presidential elections. That’s Congress’ responsibility.

After Trump’s tweet, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle quickly assured the public they would not delay the election .

Let’s ignore that for a second, though. Because here’s where it gets interesting.

Trump Won’t Like What Happens Next

“President Pelosi” began trending on Twitter soon after Donald Trump’s election delay tweet.

Why? Because the 20th Amendment to the Constitution says the president’s term ends at noon on January 20 – no matter what.

Amendment 20, Section 1 reads in part :

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January… and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

If the election were delayed past January 20, 2021, Trump would not be the interim president. Mike Pence wouldn’t be either. The Constitution plainly states both their terms would end.

The 20th Amendment doesn’t explicitly dictate what happens next, other than that Congress has to figure it out (from Section 3):

Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

There’s speculation the presidency would default to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on an interim basis. 

In other words, Nancy Pelosi.

president nancy pelosi
According to New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker, it is possible Nancy Pelosi would become president if there was no election held by the January 20 deadline. | Source: Twitter 

That’s by no means the guaranteed outcome. What actually happens next would be an utter constitutional fiasco the Supreme Court would have to sort out.

What we’d be left with is an absolute mess. It would be a succession crisis unprecedented in U.S. history. It would deal a horrific blow to American confidence in its government. And no matter what, it wouldn’t help Donald Trump remain president.

With all due respect to his critics, it’s unlikely Trump’s suggestion is a serious one. He’s not “exposing” himself as an authoritarian. He’s just revealing himself for what we knew he was all along: a sore loser.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.