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VERIFY: When the certification process is over, does President Trump have any other legal path toward staying in power?

The Verify team spoke with constitutional and political experts about whether President Trump has any other legal ways of staying in power. The consensus is no.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION:

When the objection process is over and election results are certified, does President Donald Trump have any more constitutional moves that would keep him in power?

ANSWER:

No. According to numerous legal experts, this is the final step of the Electoral College process before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. 

Sources:

  • The United States Constitution
  • Robert Peck, founder and president of The Center For Constitutional Litigation
  • Craig Albert, a political professor at Augusta University in Georgia
  • Jonathan Diaz, a legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center 

Process:

A small part of the electoral college process, which typically is uneventful and unwatched by the majority of the country, exploded into violence Wednesday afternoon. 

The protests temporarily shut down the joint session of Congress, as lawmakers started the count of the Electoral College votes. Late Wednesday night, the counting process was set to resume, prompting a question from many: 

When this Congressional count is over, does President Trump have any legal path forward that would keep him in office? 

The Verify team reached out to a trio of legal and political experts for insights.

 On a joint Zoom call, the Verify team spoke with Robert Peck, the founder and president of The Center For Constitutional Litigation, as well as Craig Albert, a political professor at Augusta University in Georgia, and Jonathan Diaz, a legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

"There's no constitutional path forward," said Albert. 

Diaz agreed, saying any other actions would be outside of the law.

"Any of these potential strategies that the president could still employ at this point," he said. "Would not only be illegal and unconstitutional, but it would be ultimately unprecedented.” 

Peck said that the next date to watch for is January 20, when the next president must be sworn in, under the Constitution. 

"You can put up certain types of obstacles," he said. "Refuse to leave. Refuse to recognize that he was defeated. But the Constitution ends his presidency as of January 20th.”

There is of course the possibility that President Trump could run for a second term in 2024. The 22nd amendment limits a person to two terms, but there is no law that they must be consecutive.