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Joe Biden has now become President-elect of the United States, according to several news outlets which have called the race based on his lead in Pennsylvania. In a stunning shift since Tuesday, Mr Biden overturned a 12-point deficit and has advanced in the state – which is worth 20 votes in the Electoral College – with a slim but growing majority of just over 7,000. The remaining mail-in vote to count – which arrived in the state on or before Election Day – will lean substantially Democrat electors expect, and give him the White House next year.
What can Donald Trump do in the three months before Biden’s inauguration?
Joe Biden has become the President-elect, meaning he has cemented his path to the White House, but he won’t step across the threshold just yet.
The constitution specifies an election must take place on the first Tuesday of November, but a new president assumes office the following January.
The 20th amendment states the President of the United States’ first term begins at noon on January 20.
The law means President Trump will remain in office for another three months and two weeks.
In this time he retains the powers afforded to him by the presidency, and Mr Trump has shown he is not prepared to use the White House responsibly as he continues to insist Democrats have “stolen” the election.
As he has already shown, Mr Trump is likely to try and dispute the results, tying Democrats up in legal challenges for the foreseeable future.
But experts have so far doubted he can do much save for providing evidence of widespread election fraud, something he has not been able to find, despite his insistence otherwise.
Christopher Galdieri, an associate professor of politics at Saint Anselm College said he would end up hard-pressed to find a pretext.
He said: “He would need to find a pretext in some state that would let him challenge enough votes to flip the margin from Biden to Trump.
“You can’t go to the court because you wish you’d won the election. You have to have a genuine legal pretext.
“As the margins get bigger I think that gets more difficult for him.”
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“The more your opponent is winning by, the harder it gets to close that gap.”
With no avenue to delegitimise Mr Biden’s claim for the White House, Mr Trump can continue with his job.
But again here, he is limited, as the Founding Fathers designed a series of checks and balances to neuter an outgoing President.
He cannot sign in any substantial legislation, except what is already in the works such as the COVID-19 relief plan.
His only solace lies in the executive branch, which permits him to sign in executive orders.
The President may issue an order, but it would then have to progress through a relatively lengthy process before ratification.
Many of the orders Mr Trump has already issued still await activation, and Mr Biden could strike them down once he assumes office.
The very last thing the President “could” do – “could” being the operative word as it is not a power granted to him – is refuse to leave office.
In this case, the Secret Service may have to forcefully remove him, something Mr Biden’s campaign already confirmed in a recent statement which declared: “The United States government is capable of escorting trespassers from the White House.”
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