What if Trump refuses to accept defeat in 2020?

Second is Congress. It’s the newly seated Congress that, in January 2021, will meet in joint session to receive the Electoral College’s handiwork and count the electoral votes. Thereafter, the President of the Senate will formally announce the election’s result. Unlike the electors, who haven’t been selected as of this writing, we already know many who will be serving in Congress that day (with the exception of any defeated incumbents, resignations, deaths or other unusual occurrences). These senators and representatives should make a joint pledge not to delay or alter counting of the votes based on any candidate’s objections. Moreover, they should pledge to hold public hearings with intelligence community leaders should those officials or any candidate suggest that vote counts were influenced by foreign election interference or for any other reason. That unvarnished testimony by intelligence professionals could debunk any claims by Trump (or any other candidate) that the final vote count shouldn’t be honored.

Third, 39 of America’s 50 state governors will not be up for reelection in 2020. They represent continuity in critical positions of leadership, and some command respect across party lines. Those 39 should band together now to make clear that they will serve, at least informally, as bastions of our democracy should a peaceful transfer of power look threatened by any candidate’s response to the election. Especially because most, if not all, are sure to support one candidate or the other, they hold great power to urge respect for the election’s results, regardless of who wins. Think here of the example set by former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas after the December 2017 special election for a Senate seat in Alabama. When Republican candidate Roy Moore initially appeared intent on baselessly contesting the election results, Huckabee, a Republican stalwart, issued a sharply worded rebuke to Moore. Moore soon acknowledged defeat.

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