Donald Trump could be forcibly removed from the White House


How Donald Trump could be forcibly removed from the White House

Donald Trump doesn’t have to concede to lose the presidency – and if he refuses to leave the White House, this is how he’ll be removed.

Donald Trump is looking unlikely to concede the US presidential election but experts have revealed how he would be escorted out of the White House if he refuses to leave.

There is no legal requirement for a President to confirm his loss for the transition process to begin.

The Presidential Transition Act of 2000, the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 and the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019 guides the process for a smooth transition of power, Fox News reports.

Preparations for the transition began well before the election.

As part of the process, the Trump administration established a White House Transition Coordinating Council, an Agency Transition Directors Council, as well as a Federal Transition Coordinator earlier this year.

Federal agencies were also required to submit plans to prepare for a change in administrations.

According to a General Services Administration (GSA) report in May, the organisation was in the process of finding and furnishing office space for the Biden team to use from September if they won.

Ahead of the election, the White House chief of staff also generally signs a memorandum of understanding with the transition team for how the outgoing administration will work with them to transfer power.

Once the GSA declares a winner the transition process will begin.

So far the GSA has not yet recognised Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris as the winners of the election as it waits for ballots to be counted in several swing states and for litigation to play out across the country.

Once this is done, a path will be set for Mr Trump’s gradual removal from the White House.


Joe Biden’s team has already said in a statement that the American people would decide the election and “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House”.

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US President Donald Trump sits with his wife Melania Trump. Picture: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If it got to the point that Mr Trump was still refusing to leave the White House at noon, January 20 then the Secret Service, usually tasked with protecting the President, would step in, one former US official and two experts told Newsweek.

“The Secret Service would escort him off, they would treat him like any old man who’d wandered on the property,” a former official involved in the transition process between former President Barack Obama and Mr Trump said.

It would also be possible for him to be criminally charged for trespassing on government property, according to the ABC.

It doesn’t matter whether Mr Trump attends the Inauguration Day ceremony, which is held to mark the handover on January 20. Generally on the day the outgoing president takes a ride along Pennsylvannia Ave with the incoming president, before watching as the new president is sworn in.

Former US Navy intelligence and counter-terrorism specialist Malcolm Nance told Newsweek that the Secret Service could “physically remove him” if it came to that.

“They may have to put hands on him to remove him. They may tell him if he doesn’t make his flight, he may have to contract his own flight,” Mr Nance said.

On January 20, Mr Trump would also lose authority over the US Armed Forces, access to the presidential Air Force One and the bulletproof Cadillac limousine, known as the Beast.

“The transition process is automated. There is no ‘do-it yourself’ move,” Mr Nance said.

“So if he doesn’t have a designated place, they’ll decide for him. Basically, the systematic things will happen whether he’s a willing participant or not.”


Before Donald Trump can be escorted out of the White House there are a number of steps that need to happen even after the GSA confirms Mr Biden’s win, including the resolution of all legal cases.

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There’s a long way to go before Joe Biden can be sworn in as president. Picture: Angela Weiss/AFP

There’s a long way to go before Joe Biden can be sworn in as president.

States have until December 8 to resolve any legal disputes, although this could be extended, according to the National Constitution Center.

The next step is for the members of the electoral college to meet on December 14 to cast their ballots. Generally they do this in line with how their state voted in the presidential election. This is not guaranteed but some states allow votes that aren’t loyal to the vote to be disregarded.

Federal law requires electorate college results to be delivered to the Vice President, who is serving as president of the Senate, by December 23 this year.

The winner of the presidential election is declared during a joint session of Congress once electoral votes are counted on January 6 at 1pm.

As each state’s results are announced, a member of the House and Senate can jointly object to the result. Congress is adjourned for up to one hour to consider the objection and if it is upheld then the votes are excluded from the election results.

The certification of the election result on January 6 will be the step that seals Mr Trump’s fate.

“If Biden is projected to win and is then formally certified as the winner in the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, he is officially going to be the next president, whether Trump concedes or not,” Gilman and Georgetown law professor Rosa Brook told Newsweek.

“Once Biden is sworn in on Inauguration Day, power transfers to him, and the Secret Service will indeed escort former President Trump out of the White House.”

However, the situation becomes tricky if there is a dispute over whether someone has actually qualified to take office.

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Disputes about who actually won the election have spilled into the streets with Trump supporters (left) and Black Lives Matter supporters debating the result in North Carolina. Picture: Grant Baldwin/AFP

Disputes about who actually won the election have spilled into the streets with Trump supporters (left) and Black Lives Matter supporters debating the result in North Carolina.

According to The Atlantic, it’s possible that disputes could be fought all the way to Inauguration Day.

While the 20th Amendment makes it clear that the President’s term will end on January 20, it doesn’t set out a process for dealing with a dispute on whether a candidate has qualified to take office.

In this circumstance it’s possible that two men could show up to be sworn in.

“We are not prepared for this at all,” Prince­ton professor of history and public affairs Julian Zelizer told The Atlantic.

“We talk about it, some worry about it, and we imagine what it would be. But few people have actual answers to what happens if the machinery of democracy is used to prevent a legitimate resolution to the election.”
If no president has been chosen by January 20, the statutory line of succession begins, which means the Speaker of the House becomes president.

This would see Nancy Pelosi serve in the role until Biden is ruled the election winner.

However, Republicans might object to this and it’s unclear what could happen if this was the case.

Former democratic senator Donald Betts Jr, who is now a lawyer in Australia told The Project on Tuesday he believes things will be resolved without Mr Trump having to be dragged out of the White House.

“Before that happens, I believe there will be a leadership team of Republicans to go over to the President and say, Mr President, it’s over, Mr President, please pack your bags and you have to leave the White House. You know, he has to leave the office. There’s no changing that,” he said.

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