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President Donald Trump entered the White House in 2016 in a bombshell election that shocked the world. Although his Democrat nominee rival, Hilary Clinton, won the popular vote by more than three million ballots, President Trump was able to assume the highest office in the US by winning through the Electoral College, an elected collective of state representatives who cast their own vote on the President. As more talk of President Trump potentially refusing to step down if he loses on November 3 emerges, Express.co.uk has spoken to an expert on the possible outcome of this historic and divisive election.
Does Donald Trump have the right to force himself into a second term?
Senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Dr Evan Lawrence said although President Trump may wish to continue in his role for four more years, there isn’t actually any legal grounds for him to do so.
Dr Lawrence told Express.co.uk: “Trump cannot legally refuse to step down, but he can challenge the election results in the courts, which could then be taken to the Supreme Court.
“This is important considering he has nominated and confirmed two Supreme Court justices, and is beginning the process of getting a third confirmed this week.”
Dr Lawrence is, of course, talking about the election of Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court in replacement of the late Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg.
President Trump has caused controversy after electing stout Conservative Ms Coney-Barrett to replace the liberal and forward-thinking Justice Bader-Ginsburg.
In doing so, after already appointing Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Antonin Scalia respectively, President Trump is able to tip the balance of the court in his favour.
Dr Lawrence explains that Mr Trump could choose not to give up the presidency in theory, but this would constitute an illegal coup d’etat.
She explains: “If Trump did refuse to step down, this would be considered an illegal coup.
“Even if he tried, he would not succeed without the support of various branches of Government.
“It is highly unlikely that Congress could take any action against President Trump, especially as it is a Republican-held congress.
“However, if we do get got a point where Trump has exhausted all his legal challenges, and still refuses to leave, he could be forcibly removed from office as a last resort, though this would be very bad publicity.”
Asked what would happen to Mr Biden if President Trump refused to go, Dr Lawrence said the Democrat nominee wouldn’t have as hard a time as people may think.
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She explained: “The US democracy and office of the President is cemented enough in history that Trump could say or do whatever he likes, but if the Supreme Court were to rule in favour of Biden, the apparatuses of Government would begin answering to Biden – even if Trump was still not recognising the results of the election.
“With Biden having been the Vice President, key stakeholders across the Government, such as the military, civil service, and security services are familiar with him.
“Therefore, a switch to Biden wouldn’t be as harsh and maybe even welcome after Trump’s leadership.”
Dr Lawrence concluded that there is no circumstance in which the US would be forced to accept a second term of President Trump if he were to lose the vote on November 3.
She said: “If the courts rule that Biden has won and Trump has lost, it would be almost impossible for Trump to force a second term of the presidency.”
Dr Lawrence reiterated the only way to “achieve this would be an illegal coup”, but said this is highly unlikely and unrealistic “given the nature of the US democracy and the separation of powers”.
As it stands, Mr Biden continues to lead in the election polls across the US, likely due to the sitting President’s controversial pandemic response this year.
However, it is worth noting that polls do not always yield accurate election outcomes.
Hilary Clinton led the polls across the country in 2016, yet still lost the White House to Mr Trump in the final result.
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