Why it matters: After defeat, there are no constraints on ordinary presidential powers between the election and the inauguration. Trump has shown a willingness to stretch the norms of what has been done and what can be done. So expect him to go out the way he came in.
Executive clemency: Presidents can wipe away or minimize past offenses with pardons, commutations, remissions or reprieves — like when Bill Clinton pardoned donor Marc Rich despite indictments over tax evasion and wire fraud.
“Burrowing in”: Presidents can convert political appointees to career employees, and under certain circumstances, presidents can make recess appointments so personnel can serve into the succeeding administration.
“Midnight rulemaking”: Outgoing presidents often rush to finalize the rules that administrations write to enact laws passed by Congress.