The Constitution mandates a two-and-a-half month gap between the election and Inauguration Day. For a self-absorbed man like Trump, that’s a long time to wallow in one’s defeat. He might decide he has little to lose by making mischief with his remaining tenure — and little to gain by ensuring a smooth and peaceful transition to a new president. There is a reason he has earned the nickname “Toddler in Chief.” And toddlers often react to losses in less-than-constructive ways.
Trump might respond to defeat by abandoning the critical duties of governance. He might try to cover up any wrongdoing he and his surrogates engaged in since arriving in the White House. And he might spend his remaining days in office indulging in conspiracy theories that the election was rigged against him.
Indeed, such scandalous traits already define this administration. Trump has given up on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic — the most critical health and economic challenge facing the country — claiming victory even though case counts are rising across the country. Attorney General William Barr over the weekend purged the U.S. attorney who was overseeing many of the remaining criminal cases against the president and his cronies. And the president continues to undermine American confidence in the election, baselessly claiming that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.