If both Trump and Biden claim to be the commander in chief? Who will the military obey?

Asking the Straight Dope Message Board community:
What will happen if both Trump and Biden claim to be the commander in chief?
Who will the military obey?

Bonus Question:
In 2000, if Al Gore had refused to accept the supreme court ruling against him, what options did he have?
If on Jan 1, 2001 Both Al Gore and Bush had claimed to be commander in chief, who would have the military obeyed in your opinion?

Well, I believe if I may say so the fact of the matter is a matter of no one will you know.

Just kidding, it depends what the Supreme Court says about it. In 2000 when Gore challenged the election outcome the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Frank W Bush and then what did VP Gore do?

Well, whatever Gore did when the Supreme Court of the United States of America told Gore he lost, I’m sure President Trump will do something with equal class if the Supreme court rules against him on his first lawsuit challenging any election outcomes not in his favor.

If Biden claimed to be the commander in chief tomorrow, I don’t expect the military would obey his orders.

If Trump claimed to be the commander in chief after Biden was inaugurated, I don’t expect the military would obey his orders either.

In other words, the military will follow the orders of the person who is currently the President. I don’t anticipate there will be any real confusion over who that person is.

Veteran here, who also lives near a Marine base and whose friends are almost all active duty Marines:

Enlisted ranks will obey their commanding officers. Their commanding officers are all college educated, and a lot more liberal than they are. That is not to say that there’s aren’t Trump lovers in the officer corps, but you will find few members of the personality cult. You will find lots of high ranking officers like Jim Mattis and Mike Esper, whose allegiance is to the office is unshakable.

Now there may be some question come late 2020 who that office holder IS. I fully expect Trump to fight, he may win, he may lose. Whoever is legally president on Jan 20th, 2021, even if it’s by a coin toss, the military will follow and make sure is installed into office, no matter what any of the ranks’ personal thoughts are.

Hi SlackWithHonor, may I reprint your reply in my Twitter feed? With or without attribution to you at your preference? @MeditationMatt

Suppose Trump challenges the election to the Supreme Court and loses. But then Trump claims the Supreme Court Ruling is wrong and immediately files an appeal. He will order all his generals to obey him until his endless appeals either go in his favor or an alien invasion. Then He and Joe Biden give all the top generals conflicting orders claiming to be President of the United States. What then?

ready29003 It really doesn’t work that way. Nobody in power would listen to Trump in that situation. No Congressman, no Senator, no Federal Judge, no Cabinet Secretary, and no military officer. There is no “appeal” from a Supreme Court decision, and declaring the decision to be “wrong” is perfectly fine for us, here, as a debating society (Dred Scott was a bad decision!) but in the centers of power, it’s an absolute non-starter.

The generals, and all of the other members of the armed forces, will follow the orders given by President Biden.

Trump can complain all he wants to. But he’s not going to be able to convince anyone that he’s still the President. The fact that you’re saying Trump will file an appeal to a Supreme Court ruling shows why Trump’s cause will be hopeless.

Oh of course! I don’t care whether you attribute it or not, whichever helps you make your point better :slight_smile:

Trump remains CinC until noon on Jan 20 no matter what; Biden, if duly elected/awarded the win and having taken the oath, instantaneously becomes CinC at that point.

An appeal… before WHO?

The World Court? They can do something, right?

They could tell him up where to cram his appeal brief, I suppose.

Great idea. Trump claims the election is a fraud and says he is appealing it to either the Supreme Court again or the world court. He continues to claim to be commander in chief on january 20, 2021…

He fires any general or cabinet member who refuses to recognize his legitimacy.

Then what…?

Biden orders Trump removed from the White House.

Trump claims legal standing pending the litigation he claims is pending before either the Supreme Court or World Court.

Trump fires anyone in the executive branch who does not recognize his authority.

Then what… ?

On what authority would he “fire” anybody in the military or executive branch after Inauguration Day?

“You’re fired!”
shrug “Okay.” takes top secret briefing to Biden

What motivation does the apparatus of government have to listen to Trump or to give him top secret information? This is always the problem I’ve had with the “Trump loses but stays put” scenario.

Then President Biden has the Secret Service escort Trump out of the White House.

i think he fires them well before inauguration day. He calls people into a room one at a time and fires them if they say they will not recognize his legitimacy.

Any chance Trump has the Secret Service completely filled with loyal white supremacists by election day?

Easy. He’ll be laughed at and his “orders” will be ignored.

Try it for yourself. Go to the White House tomorrow, declare that you’re the President, and start giving orders. See if anyone obeys a person whose presidential authority is based on them saying so.

Who would care? Trump’s not going to take over the country with a few hundred bodyguards.