Hypothetical scenario: Trump loses and goes 'scorched earth' on his way out. What does it look like?

The title probably sums it up, but let’s say Trump loses and Sens McConnell and Graham walk over to the WH a few days after Nov 3rd and tell Trump he needs to accept defeat for the good of the nation and all that shit.

Let’s say Trump tells them what they want to hear in that short meeting and he promises to arrange a presser in a day or two to address his defeat, but then…doesn’t. Instead he whips up his base using social media and his Fox News blowhards to stoke tensions and claim that the vote was rigged.

What kind of damage could he do? What do you think he would do? And at what point would cabinet members, fellow Republicans, and even the military or federal law enforcement consider jumping in to stop him?

I doubt this will happen (apologies for fighting your hypothetical). Trump was as astonished as anyone that he became President (“is there ANYTHING I can do or say that will get these millions of morons to stop supporting me?”), and deep down a big part of him hates the job and can’t wait for this to end (hey, something I agree with Trump about!).

Especially because now he has COVID (especially its economic effects) to blame for his defeat (in his mind).

If he weren’t facing a) prosecution and b) the loss of his wealth, I would be inclined to agree with you, JKellyMap. But he’s like an injured lion now; he’s fighting for his survival and the survival of his pride.

I see resistance coming; it’s just a question of what kind of following he will have. I hope that I have overstated the threat.

I feel you, and I also hope you’ve overstated the threat. I agree the threat is real, and worrisome.

I think the possible damage he could do comes down in large part to the number of his supporters (that is, those who voted for him) who would stick by him in these efforts. If he gets virtually no support from them, he really has nothing. I don’t see the authorities doing anything but unceremoniously tossing him out on his ass if he tries to stay in office. In fact, I am sure of it. And though I don’t know a lot of Trump supporters, the ones I do know would hate to see a Trump loss, I believe that they would accept it.

As for the Republicans you alluded to, I was just thinking about this this morning. There are a number of them out there now making statements similar to Trump suggesting people vote twice, the polls may be rigged, etc, and as I’ve said, trying to rile up additional support by doing this. But after the election, if Trump loses, I don’t see them doing anything other than insisting that the voters have spoken, and they will quickly run from anything they did before the election.

The answer, as in the other threads, comes down to how loyal the relevant officials are to Trump vs. how loyal they are to the United States. I’m certain the top generals will side with the United States. I don’t have nearly as much faith in AG William Barr. Then there is the matter of the people who would be doing the on the ground enforcing. As we saw in Portland, some federal officials are indeed willing to break the law if Trump or William Barr order them to.


Then there is the matter of the Justice Department agreeing to serve as Trump’s personal attorney in the matter of E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump.


So we know there are some people in power who are willing to follow Trump’s commands, even if it means breaking their oath of loyalty to the United States. Again the question is how many of those people are in power, and just how far are they willing to go.

He’s a landlord who has evicted tenannts before.

He will do what many evicted tenants do on their way out the door.

Do as much damage as possible.

How will this play out? Hard to say for sure, but he is in command of the federal offices until January 20th, absent 25th amendment remedies.

I’d say he’d rile up some more unrest in some cities by sending in troops. Sign a bunch of EO’s that, while easy enough to undo in principle, will cause lasting harm by the time they are undone. Probably go ahead and deport anyone registered as a Dreamer or other asylum seekers. I don’t know if he has the power to deport legal resident aliens, but I don’t know that he doesn’t either. Hell, he may even try to undo the naturalization of current citizens, and deport them.

Maybe start a war with Iran or North Korea or even China, but I don’t know that that wouldn’t be enough to trigger even his loyal cabinet to call for the 25th.

I doubt he will get away with nuking California, but I would not put it past him to at least suggest it.

It is kinda hard to say, as the last 4 years have been scorched earth policies all around anyway, but I have learned one thing these last 4 years, and that is to never underestimate the creativity of evil.

It’s also gonna be Pardonpalooza for himself, family members, cronies and like-minded criminals as he’s on his way out the door.

I just hope you’all are wrong.

Actually the suggestion that he can assuage his ego by blaming it on Covid seems likely.

One good omen is that he never thinks ahead so will not have prepared anything in advance.

This is my nightmare. I actually have some small hope that the military would refuse to obey.

Or, at worst, say, “Gee, Mr. President but it’s going to take us, mmm (checks calendar), about four months before we’re ready to invade [country].” so the incoming C-I-C can countermand the order.

Let’s not forget the election is November 3rd. Trump’s term ends more than two months later on January 20th. Assuming Trump loses the election there is quite a bit Trump can do as president in his remaining months in office to permanently damage this country.

Actually I’m a little bit amazed and encouraged by the fact that he hasn’t opted to stack the Supreme Court. Just appoint four more unqualified / bootlicking etc’s to the bench and get his buddies in the Senate to go along, presto changeo, now let’s reconsider those cases on immigration and obamacare and tax returns and all that.

I’d prefer that the cabinet pulls a 25a.

My second worst nightmare is the military following Trump’s orders.

My worst nightmare is the military not following the orders of the head of the civilian government.

He would need to actually pass legislation to do that, so would have to have both houses in his pocket. The senate is not enough.

No matter how many justices he stacked the court with, they’d only have a couple months to do anything, not enough time for the stacked SCOTUS to do any damage. Biden could then stack the court further, and Republicans wouldn’t be able to do anything about since Trump would have already set the precedent that the POTUS can do this. McConnell realizes this, and wouldn’t go along with such a plan for that reason.

Hopefully there is enough of a blue tsunami that the Republicans left realize that tRump can’t hurt them much any more if they break ranks. That will seriously limit the damage Cheeto Mussolini can do.

Yes, pardons, and as many right wing judges as he can. Moscow Mitch will help there.

But I think it is insane to assume weird scenarios.

This might be a nitpick, but I want to get the motivation right before commenting. The phrase “scorched earth” implies an irresistable urge for retribution. Trump isn’t above retribution, but I don’t think it’s a major motivator for him. All he wants is to preserve and/or expand his wealth and popularity. He will do literally anything he thinks he can get away with to further this aim.

To put it another way, if Trump starts smashing stuff, it will be an attempt to either manipulate the vote count, or cause uncertainty in it, or distract from inconvenient news stories. That’s not terribly reassuring, but it is at least a constraint. He was never going to start a nuclear war as I initially thought. He can’t abide the thought of him or his precious hotels coming to harm.

I’ll also put out there that Trump doesn’t have grand strategies. He has grudges, habits, and impulses. I’m sure somebody close to him does have an 11-D chess strategy involving some unsavory election-winning tactics, and I’m sure they brief him on it, but I doubt Trump has the intelligence or interest to adopt most of it. Who knows, maybe there’s an adult or two remaining in the room, or one of the interns came of age in the past 4 years.

I think what we can expect to see is more of what he’s already been doing. Stochastic calls for violence, casting it as a conflict between red/blue, black/white, police/the Antifas, inciting people to vote illegally, to intimidate voters, suggesting the election will only be valid if he wins. Above all, shattering every norm that gets in his way.

That last bit is what I really expect. Breaking unwritten norms has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency, and I’m sure someone has been holding him back. This is the only election he has left, so I’m sure he’s picked out a big batch of norms to start shredding on the morning of November 4th. He’s not going to concede, he’s going to declare victory. He’s going to suggest that “patriot poll workers” should do whatever they can to locate and shred mail-in ballots. There will be lawsuits to stop vote counts, pressure campaigns on Congressmen, etc.

Not a prayer that that bunch of toadies will do anything of the sort.

It is arguable that any invasion of a foreign country without a congressional declaration of war is illegal, so that the military could refuse. That hasn’t stopped them in the past but if they see it as stupid revenge, they might.

If Trump loses, I hope his enablers abandon him.

Trump will milk the Presidency for all it is worth to avoid the torrent of investigations and charges that will follow his ouster.

Bill Barr on the other hand? Once Trump is gone and Democrats are in charge? What are his options?