Donald Trump could use US constitutional 'glitch' in desperate bid to cling on to power

2 min


Donald Trump could use US constitutional 'glitch' in desperate bid to cling on to power

Speaking before the election, US attorney and former Whitehouse official, Van Jones spoke of a way Mr Trump could use a voting system not seen since the 1800s to try to place him back in office if he did not win the vote. Presently the incumbent president is seeking to frustrate Joe Biden’s journey to the White House by refusing to concede that he has lost the election and issuing unproven claims of voter fraud. Without providing evidence, Mr Trump has tweeted about “fake votes” in Nevada and called for a recount in Georgia.

The Republican leader is “not backing down” according to his campaign team.


One way the US President may try to do this is to force a constitutional crisis and create a situation where a contingent election must be used to choose the next president.

This could mean continuing the electoral fight into state legislatures, electoral colleges, and into congress.

If this option was taken by the President to refuse to concede, it could see “the whole matter winding up in front of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 1800s”, US attorney Mr Jones claimed.

A president being voted in by the House of Representatives is called a contingent election and has only occurred three times in US history, in 1801, 1825, and 1837.

Speaking prior to the election, Mr Jones said: “If the presidential election winds up in the House of Representatives they don’t have to pay any attention at all to the popular vote or the electoral vote.

“It’s like the election never happened.

“The final tally in the House is taken not by delegates but by delegation.”

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He added: “This is a real-world, real-life possibility that could occur in 2020 because of glitches in the constitutional system.


“If the presidential election happens in the House of Representatives they don’t have to pay any attention at all to the popular vote or the electoral vote.”

And, although unlikely, because more states voted Republican there is technically the possibility that the Republicans in the House of Representatives could confirm the re-election of Mr Trump.

Speaking at a TED talk in late October Mr Jones said: “Under the US constitution a presidential candidate could lose the popular vote, they could also lose the electoral college vote, but because they refuse to concede they could still get sworn in as the next president of the United States in this way.”

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Mr Jones added: “All the processes to inaugurate the new president can only move ahead when the other candidate makes their concession speech.

“But, candidates do not have to concede, it is just a norm in a year where nothing is normal.

“A losing candidate could launch a ferocious fight to grab power.”

Speaking of the importance of the concession speech by the losing candidate Mr Jones said: “One of the main safeguards of US democracy is not even in US law, it is a little custom. This one voluntary gesture is the concession speech.


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