He lost. But Donald Trump is still in office for a few weeks. Democrats and watchers fear that he will use the time – and that Joe Biden will leave a difficult legacy.
Donald Trump has been voted out of office, even if he does not admit it. He’s still in power for a good two months. It is customary in the USA: Elections take place in November, but the new president will not take office until January 20.
The unwritten norms actually provide for this period that the president no longer does anything that could severely restrict the successor’s policy. On the contrary, the old government usually helps the new at this stage of transition to set the course for their policies.
Photo series with 12 pictures
Like so many things, it is very different with Trump. And so it can be assumed that in his final months he will do everything he wants – and still get there. This is often not good news for Joe Biden and the USA, as five examples show.
1. Concern for national security
Donald Trump beheaded the Department of Defense, as the former top US commander at NATO, James Stavridis, put it in an interview with “Spiegel”. Trump not only fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, but virtually the entire civilian leadership of the Pentagon.
There is still speculation about what Trump actually wants to achieve with it – apart from revenge on Esper, who had recently contradicted him increasingly. In any case, experts and former military officers sharply criticize the move, especially since the newcomers in office have hardly any relevant experience for the job. The most likely scenario is that Trump wants to bring the military back from Afghanistan this year. Completely hasty, as Stavridis is not the only one who thinks: “That little bit of what we have achieved in Afghanistan would be lost in one fell swoop.” Afghanistan could become a breeding ground for terror again, experts fear.
Unlike usual, the Trump team has not yet granted Biden access to the President’s Daily Letter, which summarizes the most important security-related information. Even Republican senators recently criticized this. And with the CIA boss Gina Haspel, another central figure for national security could allegedly be fired.
2. Pardon those who are loyal to you – and yourself
The US president has the power to pardon people. Donald Trump recently used this in a particularly controversial case when he pardoned his confidante Roger Stone. He was convicted, among other things, of false testimony and influencing witnesses in connection with Robert Mueller’s special investigation.
Now many assume that Trump will make extensive use of his right to a pardon before the end of his term in office. CNN reports that other people in the Mueller special investigation such as Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos are on the list. There is also speculation about Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, and his windy lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Trump has also thought aloud earlier on whether he could pardon himself too. Whether that works and would stand up in court is extremely controversial. But it would be tantamount to an admission of guilt.
3. The corona crisis is out of control
The corona numbers in the USA are increasing dramatically. According to experts, this is not least because Donald Trump is doing too little about it. Some states are now re-imposing lockdowns, but there is no real national strategy.
Donald Trump celebrated Friday for the good news about a vaccine from Pfizer-Biontech. He reaffirmed his course of relying on vaccines and drugs in the fight against corona. For example, he explicitly ruled out lockdowns. However, experts warn that the vaccine won’t be widely available until sometime next year. Trump himself said he would go to risk groups and health workers first and will not be widely available until April.
Joe Biden last warned to be careless in the face of the good news. Until there is a widely available vaccine, 200,000 more Americans could die. Biden has made the fight against the Corona crisis the top priority in his preparations for taking office. For example, he wants to introduce a general mask requirement and install a corona coordinator in the White House. But Biden can do little until January 20th. He could inherit a disaster.
4. The ailing economy
The corona pandemic in the USA is also causing companies to go bankrupt and people to become unemployed. The worse the situation gets, the gloomier the economic outlook. According to the Fed, the interim recovery has weakened again. The recent rise in new corona infections is worrying, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently said.
Powell demanded an economic stimulus package from politicians, only that could create the necessary purchasing power. But that is exactly what Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been unable to agree on for months. Among other things, the amount is disputed. The Republicans, and the President too, want to invest less than the Democrats.
Unemployment assistance programs also expire at the end of the year if they are not renewed. 13 million people are currently dependent on them. Without this aid, the US will face a hard winter economically.
5. Trust in democracy
Donald Trump still does not acknowledge that he lost the election. In doing so, he undermines a central principle of democracy, in which power is granted for a time through elections. In the past few days he has described the election as fraud and then rigged. Even his own authorities recently contradicted him vehemently.
Trump sows doubts and they are obviously caught up in his supporters. According to a Reuters / Ipsos poll, only 60 percent of Republicans believe Biden won the election.
Trump could soon be forced to move out of the White House but still refuse to admit defeat and claim the election was stolen from him. His many frenetic supporters would probably believe him – and possibly turn away from democracy for a long time. Or, in the worst case, actively rebel against them.