A lot might depend on the margin of the victory; a close election obviously would be easier for Trump and his supporters to contest and discredit. “If the Democrats are to win they have to have a resounding victory,” Baker says, echoing the point Pelosi was making.
The scenarios would play out differently at different points in the process. If the electoral college votes for one or more individual states are in dispute, the issue could go to the Supreme Court, as it did in 2000. After the Electoral College votes it is up to Congress, sitting in joint session, to “certify” the outcome — generally a formality, but no one can say how it might play out if enough members of either party are convinced they’re being cheated. Baker takes the cautiously optimistic view that even Congressional Republicans, hitherto famously loyal to Trump, would regard a power grab at that stage as insupportable.
“I think they would look at that as so dire and so menacing that they would agree to respect the results,” he says. “But you never know.”
If Trump is still contesting the results as the end of his term approaches and refusing to participate in a transition of power, Baker points out, he could be impeached and tried in the Senate — even if he has already been impeached, tried and exonerated once.