Can Trump Refuse To Leave Office? Here’s What All Of His Threats Really Mean

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Less than 50 days before November’s presidential election, Donald Trump is now openly threatening to pass an executive order that would prevent Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden from being elected.

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But Saturday’s rally didn’t mark the first time Trump has threatened to protest if he's not re-elected. Many voters have wondered if he would simply refuse to leave, and what he can legally do if his loss occurs. So, what exactly would happen if Trump refuses to leave office?

Well, Trump has regularly floated the idea of staying in the White House and even abolishing the two-term limit as President of the United States since 2018. That year, when Chinese President Xi Jinping got rid of China's political term limits, Trump commented “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

During a rally April that same year, Trump boasted about the number of regulations being cut by his administration, telling the Republican Congress members present that “We're cutting record numbers of regulations; we've cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration whether it's four years, eight years, or in one case 16 years. Should we go back to 16 years? Should we do that? Congressman, can we do that?"

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Trump's recent attack on mail-in voting and his effort to invalidate this method of voting in the 2020 election has kept Democrats up in arms most of all. Trump suggested delaying the election altogether due to the pandemic, saying in July that "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

But, thankfully, Trump cannot legally serve more than two terms as president, according to the Constitution. The Twenty-second Amendment, initially proposed in 1947, was ratified in 1951 to include term limits because of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms as president. He was the first and only president to serve more than two terms, holding the highest office in 1932, 1936, 1940, and for a part of 1944; Roosevelt died 2 months and 23 days into his fourth term. Since then, all presidents are limited to serving only two terms, and even any measures put forth to attempt to overturn that would have to pass through Congressional voting.

So, despite Trump's (terrifying) jokes that he could serve for another 16 years, that's not really a possibility for him. And if he does attempt to prevent a Biden inauguration or presidency all together, well, the party-line war that would ignite would perhaps be the least expected outcome of 2020 so far.

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