What happens if Trump and Chief Justice Roberts do this to steal the election?

I posted a previous debate question about what will happen if Trump just attempts to stay in office. Who would the military obey? I am convinced from that great debate discussion that the military will obey whoever the Supreme Court says is president. So, this is what I think Trump could do if he is clever, immoral, and wants to remain in office.

Suppose, like in 2000 there is some remotely plausible reason to contest the election results in court. In 2000, this is what happened: Gore challenged the election in the Florida court. Florida court ruled in his favor. Then Bush appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush. Gore conceded. This all happened by December 13th. Phew. We avoided Civil War.

Now if Trump can come up with a remotely plausible court challenge to any results not in his favor, he could do this:

  1. Launch an immediate investigation into widespread vote fraud.
  2. Launch a court challenge in State courts.
    Both these two things will just be to keep everyone confused and buy time.
    Continue to visciously challenge the election results and stretch out the court challenge and fake investigations as long as possible.
  3. After losing at the state supreme courts, finally challenge the results to the Supreme Court. But if he is smart, he waits as long as possible before Jan 20th.
  4. If Trump has Chief Justice Roberts in his pocket (which is a big if), then he wants the Supreme Court to rule in his favor on Jan 19th, 2021, or maybe even the morning of jan 20th. Both presidential campaigns would be planning for a swearing in, but once the ruling happens, Trump does the swearing in as fast as possible. The Biden campaign may say this is all bogus, but guess who gets to choose the king? Again, Chief Justice Roberts- that is who swears in the next president. If Trump gets sworn in by Roberts on Jan 20, 2021, regardless of the mess and bs that take us to that moment, then he will be president.

The key to this strategy is delaying things as much as possible while stirring up doubt, chaos, and confusion. It will also help Trump if he manages to have widespread near civil war in the streets, maybe a sudden international conflict, or domestic attack - all of which Trump and or his craziest supporters could help happen. But these are just distractions.

Ok that’s my theory of how he might do it- in a way that is actually pretty hard to stop. What do you think would stop this from happening? Please be specific in what actual people could do something to prevent this and at what step. Thanks!

Well, the first thing is: I don’t think that Chief Justice Roberts has the slightest interest in helping Trump. Everything he has done has shown that he thinks trump’s a corrupt, incompetent bozo. So, you have that hurdle to leap…

I’m convinced that some people like to entertain wild things that they know won’t happen, to comfort themselves about less-wild things that are likelier to happen.

That being said…IF Roberts does help Trump this way, then Trump remains president. The only way to stop it is by a coup.


All disputes about electoral votes are decided by Dec 8, votes are cast on Dec 14. Any challenges in state courts will be resolved by then, or dismissed. Votes are counted on Jan 6, and if no one gets 270 then Congress votes.

Biden’s staff responded to this question within the last week on Twitter. I can’t find it now but from memory, it was something like, “We’re not worried; the White House has staff that has been trained in removing trespassers.”

It does seem likely the Trump team would want to file before the Surpeme Court before Dec 8 or 14th to delay an electoral vote. Unless they feel that they can get the Surpreme Court to overrule the electoral college. In 1877, an electoral college victory was found irrelevant. It was overruled by a bipartisan commission with equal Republicans and Democrats plus…yes Supreme Court Justices.

Congress Decides: 1877

The contested 1876 presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York was the last to require congressional intervention. Tilden won the popular vote and the electoral count. But Republicans challenged the results in three Southern states, which submitted certificates of election for both candidates. While the Constitution requires the House and Senate to formally count the certificates of election in joint session, it is silent on what Congress should do to resolve disputes. In January 1877, Congress established the Federal Electoral Commission to investigate the disputed Electoral College ballots. The bipartisan commission, which included Representatives, Senators, and Supreme Court Justices, voted along party lines to award all the contested ballots to Hayes—securing the presidency for him by a single electoral vote. The Commission’s controversial results did not spark the violence in the post-Civil War South that some had feared largely because Republicans had struck a compromise with Southern Democrats to remove federal soldiers from the South and end Reconstruction in the event of a Hayes victory.

Democrats keep thinking that the worst can’t happen and therefore don’t prepare for it. It’s basically their motto at this point. Constant vigilance. Swift and decisive response. We’re dying by inches and this rhetoric is further greasing the skids.

Gorsuch is another vote that Trump likely does not get. He is an originalist with strong skepticism about the amount of power that has been transferred to the executive branch. He has already shown a willingness to vote against the position argued by the Trump administration in his court.

Roberts might just appoint Gorsuch to write the opinion to twist the metaphorical knife.

Well, it seems pretty much anyone can swear in the President so it doesn’t have to be the Chief Justice. That’s merely a tradition. Still, you would have credibility with the military who would have to decide if it seemed valid. No way that could be confusing or problematic for all our fine members of the military- none of whom are fanatic Trump supporters.

The idea of John Roberts sticking his neck out to help Donald Trump become a dictator is certainly one of the more creative hypotheticals I’ve heard.

ready29003, Despite this decidedly left leaning site telling you time and time again via at least two threads that Trump probably isn’t going to try to cling to the White House if he loses, and if he didn’t noone would support him and he’d have zero success, you still cling to the belief that it will happen.


I’ve never said I believe it will happen. I’m just gaming out what options could be tried if he is motivated to do so. It’s a pretty fascinating tactical question.

Just an added option for a power crazy President if the majority of SCOTUS is not on your side. He could arrest a Justice or two. Lincoln apparently came close to arresting a sitting Justice at the beginning of the Civil War. He did arrest one congressman I believe.

As with your OP, this is somewhat fact challenged.

Clement Vallandigham was an ex-Congressman when in 1863 he was arrested shortly after General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38, for expressing Confederate sympathies.

Lincoln did arrest a bunch of Maryland state legislators.

Sitting Congressman Henry May was arrested and imprisoned in Fort Lafayette without charge or habeas corpus from September to December, 1861.

Lincoln really did crush civil liberties in Maryland. It’s almost funny reading how easily he and Seward subjugated that state: the municipal leaders were sacked (by which I mean imprisoned without a charge or habeas corpus), then the newspapers complained and the newspapers were sacked, then a third of the legislature was sacked for good measure, the lawyers who started demanding civil liberties were sacked, the judge who was worried about lawyers being sacked was sacked. People started writing memoirs. The publishers of those memoirs were promptly sacked themselves.


Thanks for the correction. However, while Henry May was indeed arrested it was not by Lincoln. General John A. Dix did it, along with the Maryland legislators that ready29003 mentioned.

That’s a crucial distinction. Generals had wide latitude inside of their districts, especially when habeas corpus was suspended. But to my knowledge Lincoln himself did not order or direct subordinates to arrest any representatives.

No matter how you stretch it, the arrest of active traitors during wartime is not a precedent for Trump colluding to retain power by force.

Let’s assume that Trump loses by a landslide in both the popular vote and number of electors. He will argue that the entire election is a fraud and illegal because that result is obviously not possible for the most successful, popular and beloved administration in US history. He can declare a national emergency and send everything back to the states requiring them to conduct investigations of their fraudulent systems. He would prevent the electors from meeting and anything from going to the federal courts. It’s really a Trump/Barr thing, not Roberts. Barr will administer the oath of office for an interim Presidency - until the systems are in place that will produce a permanent Trump victory.

What is legal, and rational, is vastly different from what Trump can do. His actions would have to be challenged through a legal system that he controls. The founders assumed the majority of our leaders would be from a well meaning, natural aristocracy. They did not make provisions for the removal of an insane, corrupt triumvirate.

It really is not unlike what happened in Germany.

No, he can’t.

Stop inventing powers for him. The president is not involved in the election. He has no powers over the states. He cannot issue executive orders that would create new law. A national emergency does not allow him to do any of these things. The military is not going to enforce his attempt at a coup.

The U.S. in 2020 is nothing - nothing - like Germany in the 1930s.

I’d agree, except for the fact that every other time I was told that that was something that he couldn’t do, he did it anyway.

How exactly, the Trump admin will corrupt the 2020 election process is unknown, though there are many speculations as to what may happen.

That Trump et al want to corrupt the 2020 election is without question, the only question is whether we let them.

Repeating the mantra “it can’t happen here”, won’t stop it from happening here. Only by taking action can we preserve our democratic principles.

Ah, but that is the point - he can. Your point is that he mayn’t. But, Trump does not play by your rules.

It’s never the same but Trump has a disaffected base of near criminal white supremacists like Roof and Zimmerman ~SA; and a police force that answers only to him ~SS. He is deploying his SS only against Democrat cities. As I said - it is not unlike what happened in Germany.