- President Donald Trump is plotting another White House run in 2024
- He's also floating wild theories on how he can stay in power
- He's asked whether Republican state legislatures could pick pro-Trump electors who would in turn give him a second term
- Odds of Trump overturning Joe Biden's win in election getting slimmer
- President has stayed behind closed doors and has only been seen in public twice since the election 10 days ago
President Donald Trump is plotting another White House run in 2024 even as he floats wild theories about getting state electors to flip in his favor so he can stay in power.
The odds of President Trump over turning Joe Biden's victory get slimmer as states begin to certify their election results, more news outlets called Arizona for the Democratic candidate, and Trump's own campaign has failed to turn up evidence of massive voter fraud.
But that hasn't stopped the president from throwing out ideas on how he could stay in the White House and planning to steal Biden's glory by announcing another presidential run on the day his Democratic rival is certified the winner of the 2020 contest.
President Donald Trump is plotting another White House run in 2024 even as he floats wild theories about how he can stay in the White House
Trump has been locked behind closed doors - in the 10 days since the election he's only been seen in public twice - as he mulls his next steps.
'We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption that there will be a second Trump term,' White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business. 'We think he won that election, and any speculation about what Joe Biden might do I think is moot at this point.'
At a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, as advisers explained the odds of him changing the election results are slim, the president asked whether Republican state legislatures could pick pro-Trump electors who would in turn give him a second term when they meet in Washington D.C. in January to formally cast their votes for president, The New York Times reported.
Aides say privately the president knows the election is over but, publicly, Trump continues to complain of a 'rigged' election and proclaim himself the victor.
'Biden did not win, he lost by a lot!,' he tweeted on Thursday.
He's also alleged in a series of tweets that Twitter marked with warning signs that votes were stolen and that some were switched from him to Biden.
He's offered no proof of his allegations and, on Thursday evening, the Department of Homeland Security group that is in charge of overseeing the cyber security for the 2020 contest took the unusual step of declaring this year's election as 'the most secure in American history.'
'The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,' the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency and the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council said. 'There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.'
Trump has touted differently.
'Tens of thousands of votes were stolen from us and given to Biden,' the president alleged on Thursday night.
Many of his tweets have been in all caps, such as the one touting a debunked story from conservative news network OANN on voting machines switching votes: 'REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE. DATA ANALYSIS FINDS 221,000 PENNSYLVANIA VOTES SWITCHED FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP TO BIDEN. 941,000 TRUMP VOTES DELETED. STATES USING DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS SWITCHED 435,000 VOTES FROM TRUMP TO BIDEN.'
Dominion Voting Systems, which makes software that local governments use to help run their elections, became the center of unfounded claims of fraud last week after a clerk's error in a small, Republican-leaning Michigan county.
The error was jumped on as an example of vote-rigging because it wrongly favored Biden before being fixed.
A week later, that misinterpreted mistake snowballed into a deluge of false claims that Democrats have deep ties to Dominion Voting Systems.
The claim, however, has been widely debunked in the media and by state election officials who provided explanations of periodic errors in the massive counting process.
Planning for the inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021 is going forward; the presidential inaugural platform is under construction in front of the US Capitol building
President Donald Trump has only been seen in public twice since election day 10 days ago
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council issued a statement on Thursday night noting the 2020 election was one of the most secure in history
As Trump continues to contest the election, many members of his Republican Party have said Biden should receive the presidential daily briefing, the daily intelligence assessment given to Trump and top administration officials.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one Trump's top allies on Capitol Hill, said Biden should start receiving it.
Other GOP lawmakers have said the same.
'I just don't know of any justification for withholding the briefing,' Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told reporters on Capitol Hill.
And Biden has spoken privately to some Republican lawmakers, his incoming White House chief of staff said.
'Joe Biden has spoken to Republicans. He's spoken to some Republican senators, some Republican governors. I'm not going to go into the names,' Ron Klain told MSNBC on Thursday night.
Other Republicans are publicly urging the president to move on.
'Closing out this election will be a hard but necessary step toward restoring some unity and political equilibrium, ' Republican strategist Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal. 'Once his days in court are over, the president should do his part to unite the country by leading a peaceful transition and letting grievances go.'
Meanwhile, President Trump has mulled announcing a 2024 bid as soon as electors certify the November contest for Biden.
That would be immediately make him the front runner for the Republican nomination, put a freeze on the GOP field for the next election and allow him to spend the next four years as the leading voice of opposition to a President Biden.
Even as Trump mulls ways to stay in power, aides told The Wall Street Journal there is no plans in place or work being done for a second term.
The president is also not focused on what could be done during his next 69 days in office even as some of his advisers rush to put in place a series of federal regulations.
Aides said there have been conversations about executive orders in areas such as banning banks from refusing to lend to fossil-fuel companies or on immigration rules that would make it tougher to win asylum and appeal a deportation order. White House adviser Stephen Miller and other officials are also pushing to end the H1-B visa lottery.
A Biden administration could reverse any executive order Trump puts into place.
President Trump may fire more staff in his final days in office, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI director Christopher Wray
There also have been discussions about negotiating another coronavirus relief package with lawmakers on Capitol Hill - a project that has been tied down for months.
Trump has been distracted with the election results but one adviser told the newspaper that 'once he exhausts all those options and if it doesn't ultimately go his way, then he may reshift his focus' to policy matters.
Meanwhile, Trump complains on Twitter about Fox News coverage and mulls starting his own conservative news channel - which he would be unable to do if he wants to run for the White House again.
He has not publicly mentioned the rising number of coronavirus infections in the United States.
But there have been a few attention to presidential matters.
Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and there's talk there may be more firings to come, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI director Christopher Wray.
While Trump plots his next steps, planning for the January 20th inauguration is under with platforms being constructed on Capitol Hill - where the next president will be sworn into office - and in front of the White House to view the inaugural parade.
TRUMP'S POSSIBLE ROADMAP TO KEEPING THE WHITE HOUSE
Donald Trump does have a precarious - and politically explosive - path to keeping the White House. To do it he needs to get Joe Biden's wins in a series of states set aside.
With his claim that the Supreme Court would do that looking to have evaporated, instead he has to use the procedures of the Electoral College to turn it round.
And he needs to do it in a lot of states: if Georgia and Arizona stay on track for Joe Biden, he will have 306 votes, far above the 270 needed. Trump appears to be taking legal action, or intending to, in six states: Pennsylvania, with 20 Electoral College votes; Georgia, with 16; Michigan with 16; Arizona with 11; Wisconsin with 10; and Nevada with six.
He needs to get at least any two of the larger three states plus one more state to go Republican to get Biden under 270.
Here is how he might manage it:
STEP ONE: GET COURTS TO PUT HOLDS ON CERTIFYING THE VOTE IN TARGET STATES
The vote is not official until it is 'certified' - that is officially declared valid - which happens later in November. Georgia certifies on November 20, and Nevada and Wisconsin are last on December 1.
Trump is already trying to get certification put on hold in Pennsylvania and Michigan, claiming large-scale irregularities.
OR: GET AN 'AUDIT' REQUESTED OR EVEN BETTER ORDERED - AND KEEP IT GOING PAST CERTIFICATION
Michigan Republican state senators have asked for an 'audit' claiming that allegations of irregularity need to be looked into. This could be a useful tool if courts don't come through: at the very least it would allow Republicans to say they don't trust the certification because it ha snot been audited.
STEP TWO: KEEP THE CERTIFICATION ON HOLD PAST DECEMBER 8
This is the 'safe harbor' deadline when all election disputes must be resolved. If they are not fully played out, whoever has a court ruling in their favor at this point keeps that result. So if Trump has certification on hold in target states, he has a chance to flip them to him starting now.
STEP THREE: GET REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES TO AGREE TO APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
You were not voting for the president directly: you were voting for electors to the electoral college. But the Constitution does not say that electors are winners of a popular vote. Instead the Constitution says: 'Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.' In the early 19th century, states rapidly moved to make the appointment of the electors the result of the popular vote; by 1832 South Carolina was the only holdout. It stuck with that approach until secession.
So Republicans in at least three and possibly more states would have to decide that because the results are not certified - or because they claim they don't trust the certification because of an audit or the lack of one - that they can take back control for themselves. They would argue that because the results aren't certified or trustworthy, it's up to them to work out the will of the people.
Then - undoubtedly in the face of huge public protest - they would appoint Republicans who will vote for Trump.
This has happened in recent history: in 1960 Hawaii had disputed elections and sent two slates of electors.
STEP FOUR: SWEAT IT OUT WHEN GOVERNORS APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
All three of the biggest target states - Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan - have Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. So now the governors could simply appoint their own electors - voting for Biden - and say that their votes are what counts on January 6, when the Electoral College is counted and record in Washington D.C.
STEP FOUR: SURVIVE A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS
Such a dramatic change would go to the Supreme Court. It has never directly ruled whether states could do that: in 2000, three of the five justices who gave the election to Bush over Gore said that state legislatures had complete control - but that is not a precedent. Now Trump's fate would be in the hands of nine justices, three of whom he appointed and one of whom - Clarence Thomas - said that legislatures are in charge.
Democrats would of course argue that the governors' electors are the right ones, and a titanic battle would play out. If Trump wins - again in the face of likely huge public protest - he is on to the final stage.
STEP FIVE: HOPE THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SLATES DON'T GO FAITHLESS
If Pennsylvania is one of the states to ignore the popular vote, Trump needs its 20 Republican electors to stick to the plan - but the state allows faithless electors. So all, or even some, could make a difference in an already mathematically fraught bid to keep the presidency. But assuming he has enough votes not going to Biden, it is on to Washington D.C.
STEP FIVE: MAKE IT TO JANUARY 6
This is D-day for the plan: The newly-sworn in Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. The vice-president, Mike Pence, presides, over a joint session. Normally the 'certificates' showing how each state voted are opened in front of the vice-president, the count is recorded and with a bang of the gavel, the electoral college winner is officially declared.
Now Trump needs Republicans in the House and Senate to work together. A member of the House and a senator can jointly object to a state's certificate when it is opened. The last time this happened was in 1877, which caused a months-long crisis, ended by compromise and followed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887.
This time the 1887 rules come into play. If there is an objection, they split into the House and Senate and there are two hours for debate. This has only happened once, in 2005, when a tiny number of Democrats objected to Ohio's vote count. But it was voted down overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate.
And finally, the vote count is in alphabetical order, so Arizona will be the first battleground state where all this could be tested.
STEP SIX: KEEP MITT ROMNEY, SUSAN COLLINS AND LISA MURKOWSKI ON TRUMP'S SIDE (AND HOPE PENCE CAN VOTE)
If Trump is to win, he has to have the Republicans in the Senate vote for Arizona's Republican slates. If the Georgia runoffs are decided and Democrats take both seats, Pence would have to tie break in Trump's favor. If they are not decided, or if Republicans win both, they would win each vote either 50-48 or 52-48, meaning that Trump cannot afford to lose a single Republican. Mitt Romney voted to impeach him, Susan Collins owes him nothing after he refused to campaign for her, and he has called for Lisa Murkowski to be primaried so somehow he needs their votes. Even in the best-case scenario - a Republican sweep in Georgia - all three rebelling would be fatal. And if it is tied, it is not legally clear whether Pence can use his tie-break - the law says simply that he acts as 'president' of the Senate.
STEP SEVEN: WATCH A DEBATE WHICH HAS NO PRECEDENT
The 1887 law sets some ground rules for how the House and the Senate debate which slate of electors are valid. They have to decide what the true vote was at the safe harbor deadline - back on December 8 - and which slate of electors were appointed in line with state law. So the debate should - in theory - not be partisan but a determination of which side is valid. In principle, that could mean different outcomes for different states. But assuming that a Arizona goes Trump's way in the Senate and Biden's way in the House, that state is tied - and then it's on to a new constitutional crisis.
STEP EIGHT: FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT - AND IT COULD BE TWO PRESIDENTS
The law says that Congress can't move on to the next state until debate is resolved over the one in question. But it also says that the meeting cannot be dissolved until all states are decided.
So the whole proceeding could be deadlocked at Arizona. And as long as it remains deadlocked, there is a looming deadline of January 20 - at which point Pence and Trump are out of office anyway. In that scenario, Nancy Pelosi becomes president automatically at noon.
However, Pence could break the deadlock on Arizona by ruling that the votes are not to be counted at all, and debate can resume on the next item.
Democrats clearly would not agree. In that scenario, it is impossible to say what would happen. They could walk out, say the debate is not resolved - which it would not be - and therefore Pelosi would be sworn in on January 20.
But Pence is likely to rule that the debate in fact is going on, run through the votes with only Republicans and come up with a Trump victory: meaning two rival presidents both claiming they are in charge.
What happens then is impossible to say: the Supreme Court could try to rule between them, or the military might have to decide who is commander in chief.
THE OTHER STEP EIGHT: KEEP DEBATING AND FIX THE RULES IN YOUR FAVOR
Of course Democrats could stick with the debate and keep going, debating each state as they go along.
If that happens, Congress has to decide what a majority of the Electoral College means. Is it a majority of the 570, or is it a majority of the electors from the states which are not tied? The law does not say either way - and it could be valid to rule out tied states entirely. If Congress goes for the shrinking college, then Biden would be at a disadvantage if Trump has Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - all the states being targeted by Trump, so without all of them, Democrats could simply grit their teeth and wait for a guaranteed victory.
But if it stays at 538, then Biden could well lose without Trump actually winning: once it falls below 270, there is no majority and therefore it is up to the House to decide.
So Trump has to set the rules in his favor - and even that might be problematic because the House and Senate would go in opposite directions. In fact the deadlock could mean the debate is stuck at step eight anyway, and Nancy Pelosi gets sworn in.
If Mike Pence rules in Republicans' favor as the president of the joint session, then it would probably head for the Supreme Court to rule one way or the other.
STEP NINE: THE HOUSE DECIDES - TRUMP HAS DONE IT
If Trump and Biden end up here this is safer ground: the House has decided before. It does not vote under normal rules. Instead each state delegation gets one vote and has to decide among the delegation how to allot it.
So going by current House results, 27 states have Republican majorities, and all Trump has to do it get a simple majority of them. Trump has triumphed - but it is an exhaustingly long process to get back on the platform on January 20 to be sworn in.