Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency has divided a nation and the world. In fact since Trump won the election, Google searches for ways of stopping a president reaching office increased by almost 5,000%, according to The Independent.
So, for those of you on the anti-Trump side, we investigated if there were any ways the former reality TV star won’t become president.
1. Through impeachment
Impeachment is when a public official is brought before a tribunal to face charges for crimes which can result in the official being removed from office. According to the US constitution there is a presidential impeachment clause and this is an option plenty of people have put forward – from America and abroad.
So how likely is this scenario? Well, later this month Trump will become the first president-elect in history to appear in court to defend himself over claims of fraud against his own people – and according to one law specialist he could and should be impeached within weeks.
Law professor Christopher Peterson of the University of Utah wrote a 23-page essaybefore Trump was even elected summarising the reasons Trump should be impeached and it still applies since his victory. Peterson highlights several legal complaints of fraud and racketeering from Trump but focuses on Trump University – for which Trump is due to go on trial this month, unless it’s settled out of court.
“In the United States, it is illegal for businesses to use false statements to convince consumers to purchase their services,” wrote Peterson. “The evidence indicates that Trump University used a systemic pattern of fraudulent representations to trick thousands of families into investing in a programme that it can be argued was a sham. Fraud and racketeering are serious crimes that legally rise to the level of impeachable acts.”
Some might take the impeachment idea with a pinch of salt however. In the event of Trump’s impeachment his vice-president Mike Pence would most likely take power – a man who reportedly advocated spending public money on conversion therapy for gay people.
History isn’t on the side of this idea. The last president to face impeachment proceedings was Bill Clinton, who faced charges of perjury and obstructing the course of justice after he lied about having an extramarital affair with a White House intern – something he was acquitted of. The only other president to be impeached was Andrew Johnson in 1868 and no US commander-in-chief has ever lost office because of it.
Verdict – Although unprecedented, expert opinion deems it well within the realms of possibility.
2. The electors don’t vote for him
As you may have gathered by now the US has a pretty unique election system where it is the votes in the electoral college which in practice choose the president. Now, the electors who vote in this process are supposed to follow the wishes of their state and all vote for the candidate the people in their area voted for – but they don’t have to.
On December 12 the electors will cast their votes, almost certainly choosing to follow their voters’ wishes. However the American constitution states legally members of the electoral college do not have to do this and can act as a “faithless elector” where they cast their ballot for someone else or not at all.
Such is the wave of anti-Trump feeling there is an online petition with over 2 million signatures appealing to the members of the electoral college to appoint Clinton instead of Trump.
Hopes aren’t too high for this option though. Despite opposition to Trump from Democrats and even his own Republican party there would need to be a large number of electors willing to go against the people’s vote. Moreover it is unlikely Republican-leaning voters would choose Clinton instead, thus making it acutely improbable she would get enough votes to overturn his victory.
The last time an elector turned faithless was in 2004, when an anonymous member from Minnesota voted for John Edwards instead of John Kerry, who was acting as Kerry’s running mate – and even this has been viewed as a mistake rather than deliberate.
Verdict – A long shot, but wouldn’t a surprise like this be typical 2016?
3. He could resign
Trump is of course allowed to refuse to serve and resign his post as president-elect. If Trump did choose to do this at this time the decision of who would be the next president would thus go to the electoral college who could choose a new candidate from those who ran.
If Trump waited however until after the electoral college, again it would be his running mate Mike Pence who got the nod.
With Trump coming so far, it is difficult to see why he would pull out. Perhaps he could see his policies as too much of a mammoth task and give up, or maybe he might resign before fraud investigations unearthed anything too damaging? Perhaps it was all a stunt for the ultimate reality TV show?
Verdict – Don’t count on it
4. He’s unfit to serve
Now we must make clear no one should be willing the man to become unwell or to die, but this is obviously a genuine reason which could cause him not to reach the presidency.
Much was made by Trump of Hillary Clinton’s illness when she contracted pneumonia earlier this year. An unwell Clinton almost collapsed after attending a 9/11 memorial ceremony and Trump said health had then become “an issue” in the presidential race, promising to release his medical records to prove his own well-being.
Trump claimed at the time he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”, despite the fact he is becoming the oldest president ever elected aged 70.
Verdict – Don’t start wishing bad things against people.