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Transition in the United States: Donald Trump 'has limited nuisance power'


trump biden dibate

The fight continues between President-elect Joe Biden and Donald Trump who refuses to acknowledge his defeat. © Jim Watson, Saul Loeb, AFP

A week after the elections in the United States, won by Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat. He denounces fraud, without providing proof, and has initiated legal proceedings in several states. A situation that complicates the transition process which will end on January 20, 2021 with the inauguration of the new president.  

As the vote count draws to a close, the gap widens in favor of  Joe Biden . The major television networks, including the conservative Fox news channel, the Associated Press agency or even the Edison Research institute (specialist in electoral projections) have all declared the Democratic candidate the winner. A victory which should be endorsed by the vote of the grand voters on December 14. However, Donald Trump stands firm  : he denounces massive fraud and has launched legal proceedings in several states.

The heightened tensions between the two camps raise fears of an eventful transition period which will culminate on January 20, 2021 with the inauguration of the new president. France 24 takes stock with Jean-Éric Branaa, lecturer in American society and politics at the University of Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas and author of a biography of Joe Biden.  

" France 24: Despite the results which give Joe Biden a large lead, Donald Trump continues to cry fraud, what does he hope to achieve? "

Jean-Éric Branaa:  In my opinion, the most likely hypothesis is that Donald Trump just cannot digest a defeat that he never envisaged. These fraud allegations are totally fanciful  and fall under conspiracy theory. In Wisconsin, they wanted to believe that there were more voters than registered voters, in Pennsylvania that the dead had voted when they were namesakes or members of their family. Many states have already rejected these appeals, and it is quite possible that Trump's die-hardness is more astonishment and trauma of defeat than real political strategy.   

" Is there a possibility that these legal remedies lead to a blockage of institutions that would work in his favor?   "

It is indeed possible even if it is unlikely. If there is a dispute over the results, it could be that states in Republican legislatures like Michigan and Pennsylvania decide to vote Republican on Dec. 14 despite those two states being won by Biden. As a last resort, it would then be up to the House of Representatives to decide; however, each delegation has one vote and there is a majority of republican delegations. This vote could therefore lead to a second term for Trump. It is possible that the president's camp is banking on this scenario, but it is unlikely to succeed because the vote count is almost finished, which greatly limits the possibility of litigation, and that a part of the elected Republican, legitimists , could refuse to oppose the election results.  

" The transition is supposed to allow the handover to the new team, can Donald Trump block this work? "

Traditionally, the day after the election, the loser acknowledges defeat and teams work together to prepare for the new term. Trump, him, blocks until the vote of the big voters by playing on the fact that the victory must be formalized. One aspect is worrying: the recent sacking of several key members of the administration - such as Defense Secretary Marc Esper, his Chief of Staff or even the Under-Secretary for Intelligence. Donald Trump could try to disrupt the services in this crucial period. 

However, its nuisance power is limited because laws govern the transition. Opposite, Joe Biden is far from a novice, he is an experienced politician who knows the system by heart and he says the transition is going well. He sets up his teams; the latter meet with senior officials who, for the most part, are neutral and respect the rules.  


The campaign was extremely tense, is it possible that this conflict is bogged down and Donald Trump refuses to participate in the inauguration on January 20?

Even if Donald Trump lost the election, he must be recognized as a rather extraordinary legacy for Republicans: he appointed three judges to the Supreme Court and is considered a real star by part of the electorate to the point of having increased his number of votes compared to 2016. 

He could come out of this election with his head held high, but he ends up doing some procedure. It is his right but it is a new proof, if one were needed, that he does not have the stature of a head of state. However, not taking part in the inauguration seems inconceivable to me;

 this would reflect a total disrespect for the office of president who has the obligation to hand over power to his successor. Such a decision would put an end to more than 240 years of tradition; but if Donald Trump has an iconoclastic personality, he belongs to a milieu - that of the jet-set, with its codes - and he must hold his place. He is also a businessman who has interests to defend. Some things are not getting done, even for Donald Trump. 

I have ambitions and goals in my life, and I am now trying to achieve them calmly, as the name also came on my channel and website.