What happens if Trump refuses to leave the White House?

According to most political experts, and several million Americans, former vice president Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election with more than enough of the required 270 electoral votes.

But, President Trump is refusing to concede or acknowledge Biden’s victory. So what happens next?

Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20. But what if, even after Trump has exhausted all of his legal maneuvering to challenge Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ win, he refuses to leave the White House?

Essentially there are three options for the U.S. – and none come without their own sets of issues. In fact, many believe Trump's refusal could kickstart a Constitutional crisis, and the possibility of widespread unrest.


In an interview with "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Biden suggested he was “absolutely convinced” the military would be used to extract Trump should the president refuse to leave on his own.

"I promise, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch," the former vice president said.

But Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NPR last month that he has no intention of using the military to intervene in a U.S. election.

“This isn’t the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election,” he told the outlet. “And if there is, it’ll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the US Congress. There’s no role for the US military in determining the outcome of a US election. Zero. There is no role there.”


If the last states to be called are disputed, those states with Democratic governors but Republican legislatures (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin) the latter two of which have already been called for Biden — Electoral College voters could be split.

With those states having two competing sets of electoral votes, and, as president of the Senate, Republican Vice President Mike Pence would be tasked with determining the outcome. Pence could potentially throw out both sets of votes from those states, which could mean that neither Biden or Trump would have enough of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

In that case, members of Congress would vote for president and vice president.

The House of Representatives would vote for president, with each state’s delegation getting one shared vote, and a simple majority of 26 votes needed to elect.

In the Senate, each senator gets one vote, with a simple majority of 51 votes needed to elect.

Should either of those bodies fail to reach a majority, things could get even more murky.

If the Senate elects a vice president, but fails to elect a president, the vice president-elect serves as president until the impasse is resolved.


If neither Congress or the Senate can reach a conclusion by Inauguration Day, then the presidential line of succession moves into place and the speaker of the House of Representatives — currently Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — would serve as president until the knot is unraveled.

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