Donald Trump surpassed many early poll predictions – holding on to Florida and Texas, two divisive swing states – but Joe Biden won Pennsylvania, pushing him to over the 270 electoral votes needed to claim a victory.
But Trump, somewhat-expectedly, is contesting the result. What will happen if Trump doesn’t concede?
Has Trump conceded?
At the time of writing, Trump had still not conceded the election – and depending on which associate of his is talking, the likelihood of whether he will is uncertain.
His attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said at a press conference on Saturday, November 7, that President Trump will not concede the election.
He stated: ‘Obviously he’s not going to concede when at least 600,000 ballots are in question.’
The president’s personal attorney claimed, without substantiated evidence, that ballots were tampered with in Pennsylvania – the state which awarded Biden the presidency.
However, CBS News reported late the same day that the president would concede – if he fully exhausts his legal options to contest the election.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said the president would ‘accept the results of a free and fair election.’
Trump’s tweets would suggest he is not quite ready to concede, blasting out a string of tweets throughout Saturday which included statements like: ‘I WON THE ELECTION, BY A LOT!’ and ‘… BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE.’
What happens if Trump doesn’t concede?
If Trump doesn’t concede, he doesn’t remain president.
In fact, conceding is more a practice of good etiquette, or sportsmanship.
There’s no law requiring a written or verbal handover of the presidency between an incumbent and their successor.
No modern president has ever refused to concede after all results have been counted and any legal challenges resolved.
A candidate can contest the results and this will lead to a formal process with set deadlines that culminates in a certification of the official results from Congress.
In 2020, all states must resolve any disputes by December 8, which will then lead to the Electoral College casting their votes on the decision by December 14.
No president or candidate has ever contested a final result from Congress, but in the hypothetical that Trump does refuse to accept the result, this would result in a constitutional crisis.
In terms of leaving the White House itself, the Biden campaign has already addressed that obstacle, issuing a statement to the NY Times stating that ‘the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.’
When will Trump stop being president?
Trump will remain president until January 20, 2021.
This will mark four years exactly since his first – and last – term as president began, something that was included in the Constitution.
The framers of the Constitution did not establish a specific day that presidential terms end, but it was stated clearly that a president ‘shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years.’