By Robert Mann
In the annals of sore losers, few presidents stand out like John Adams after his loss to Thomas Jefferson in 1800. On Inauguration Day, the testy Adams passed up his successor’s swearing-in. He left the White House, boarded his horse-drawn coach and fled toward Quincy, Mass., before sunrise.
Adams’ offense was leaving too soon. The question worrying me, however, is: What if Congress ousts Donald Trump by impeachment — or he’s defeated for reelection — and he won’t go?
Before you sneer at this notion as preposterous, consider the exhausting list of our president’s normalized behaviors and outrageous offenses that, two years ago, would have been unfathomable: A torrent of lies and insulting tweets, public affection for tyrants, turning the presidency into a profit center, alleged obstruction of justice, unabashed racism, praise of Nazis and stunning denigration of the State Department, FBI and CIA.
Today, Trump’s ill-mannered, infantile and illegal behavior prompts nary a raised eyebrow with 30 percent of the public. The rest, meanwhile, cannot remain scandalized about yesterday’s outrage because of today’s new outrage and the expectation of what fresh hell comes tomorrow.
The other day, Trump endorsed Roy Moore, the bigoted, lawless Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Alabama accused of child molestation. This shameful, shocking endorsement is now known as “something that happened on Monday.”
The idea Trump might barricade himself in the White House, declare his impeachment unconstitutional — or his reelection stolen — is within the realm of possibility. It comports with what we know about Trump’s anti-democratic, authoritarian tendencies. From there, it’s easy to picture Trump going a dangerous step further and urging his supporters to descend on Washington and prevent his removal. Honestly, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision Trump, if he loses, encouraging civil unrest to save his hide.
Hogwash, you say. The president must leave if the Senate convicts or voters reject him. OK, show me the clause in the Constitution that spells out who arrests a defeated president and escorts him from the White House. Here’s what the Constitution says about presidents who refuse to leave: Nothing, absolutely nothing.
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