When will Trump leave the White House?

Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election by news networks on 7 November but Donald Trump has yet to concede to the president-elect, despite officially launching the transition process.

Mr Trump and his campaign have filed a number of legal challenges in swing states that he says cost him victory and has doubled down on claims of election fraud without providing any substantial evidence.

Amid Mr Trump’s futile battle to overturn the result, marking a chaotic end to a tumultuous four years in office, there appears to be one question on the minds of many: When will Trump actually leave the White House?

Why has the president not yet conceeded?

The president and his campaign team have filed lawsuits in battleground states that Democratic president-elect Biden won, contesting the legitimacy of the results.

Mr Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud in these states, linking it to mail-in voting, and has asked judges and certification authorities to block the results.

The Trump campaign has also tried to invalidate or change the results through recounts. However they have failed to provide any substantial evidence of their fraud claims.

Many Republican lawmakers have remained silent on president-elect Biden’s win. Some have indicated that they intend to wait for legal cases to be resolved before officially recognising the winner.

When will the president officially lose the election?

The electoral college meets on 14 December to cast its vote for president, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by 8 December.

Certificates recording the electoral vote results in each state must be received by the president of the Senate and the archivist no later than 23 December.  

The official results of the electoral votes are sent to Congress which is set to meet in a joint session on 6 January, 2021 and announce the results.

Is there any way the president could overturn the electoral college?

The US constitution gives state legislatures the authority to appoint the 538 electors to the electoral college who ultimately elect the president.

Reports have previously speculated whether it would be possible for Mr Trump to put pressure on state legislatures to ignore the popular vote and appoint electors favorable to the president.

Federal law allows lawmakers to make such a move if states have “failed to make a choice” by the day the electoral college meets. There have been fears that the Trump campaign could use delays in the vote count to achieve this criteria.

However doing so would be an unprecedented challenge to democracy. It would also be highly unlikely for the president to be able to exert that much influence, as his victory would hinge on the changed result of more than one state.

A number of legislatures would need to take the extreme step of ignoring the will of the popular vote if the president was to have a chance of winning the election this way, making it implausible.

When will Trump have to leave the White House?

As per the US Constitution, the new president is sworn in on Inauguration Day: 20 January, 2021. This effectively acts as a hard deadline to the end of Mr Trump’s one term as president.

His presidency will come to an end on that day, whether or not he has conceded.  

The US constitution makes no mention of how a president should be removed if they lose an election and refuse to hand over power to their opponent.

Amid the president’s repeated refusals to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Mr Biden has insisted federal officials “will escort [Mr Trump] from the White House with great dispatch” if he refuses to leave.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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