The Constitutional Implications of Trump and the GOP Denying Election Results

President Trump, with most of the GOP supporting him, continues on a legal crusade against the outcome of the election, slowing down the transition to a Biden administration.

Donald Trump spent months prior to the general election casting doubt on America’s democratic process, priming the public for a fight over election results. Now that the election has come and gone, President Trump is now refusing to accept the results, mounting several dubious legal cases in various states.

The GOP, for the most part, has stood by the president, with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week going as far as stating that there would be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. Pompeo’s statement and Trump’s continued defiance has stoked fears of a constitutional crisis and erosion of democratic principles.

Listen: What Tump’s election denial means for the future of U.S. norms and institutions. 


Brian Kalt is a professor of law at Michigan State University and author of “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” He says that typically the results of the election are obvious and the transition to a new administration moves forward, but that results never become technically official until after states certify their votes in December. “What [Trump denying results] does is it sort of extends that period of uncertainty. We know who won the election, but more is going to turn on those steps that make it official, and those steps don’t happen for a little bit,” says Kalt of the election certification process.

Trump’s denial of the presidential election results differs from past years where there have been close and contentious elections. “It’s also not uncommon for people to question the result after it’s over.  In 2000, people still say Gore should have won… but there’s a difference between questioning the legitimacy of the result and standing in the way,” says Kalt on Trump’s refusal to concede.

Written by Detroit Today Associate Producer Clare Brennan.

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