The news is out: [As we count down the days to Election Day, the pundit class is wringing its hands in worry over whether President Donald Trump will accept a possible win by Joe Biden and agree to leave the White House.
But even if Trump calmly walks out the door of the White House on the morning of January 20th, a more immediate problem looms: What might Trump do with the final 77 days of his presidency if he loses? There are 1,860 hours between Wednesday, Nov. 4, and noon on Jan. 20, when Trump’s first term expires. And that’s plenty of time for him to upend plenty of presidential traditions.
The lame duck period is always a time when outgoing presidents feel free to stir up controversy. Even presidents who care deeply about their legacies and abide by democratic norms often take uniquely unpopular actions in the closing weeks of their presidencies: George H.W. Bush pardoned six officials behind the Iran-Contra scandal; Bill Clinton pardoned more than 140 people on his final day in office — a third of all the clemencies he granted as president — including financier Marc Rich, a controversy that dogged him as he moved into the post-presidency and launched one final investigation of his time in office. Just days before he left office, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of leaker Chelsea Manning.
So, imagine what might happen in a post-election period when Trump — a president who has spent four years demonstrating his lack of interest in norms and practices of a democracy — retains all the powers and authority of the presidency and officially has nothing left to lose?]
The fun starts on November 4th.