After Joe Biden wins the election, we’ll hear from President Donald Trump for the last time, right? Well, not that fast.
According to the US Constitution, a new president cannot be sworn in until January 20th.
Until then, the incumbent is a so-called “lame duck” president.
However, this term is quite misleading.
And according to Joe Siracusa, professor at Curtin University and presidential historian, Mr Trump can still achieve a lot before he officially becomes ex-president.
What is the “lame duck” period?
The term “lame duck” was first coined in 18th century England to describe a businessman who was unable to pay his debts and was used to refer to American politicians in the 19th century.
It is often used today to refer to an elected official in the period between losing an election and the swearing in of their successor.
US presidents are sometimes referred to as “lame ducks” during their second and final terms when they cannot stand for re-election.
“The lame duck era in America refers to the time when an incumbent president or senator or whatever is defeated and before the new man comes in,” said Professor Siracusa.
Why does the US have a “lame duck” period after the elections?
The time between the election and the inauguration was originally intended to give the new president time to get their affairs in order and move into the White House.
It used to be much longer – the inauguration didn’t take place until March 4th – because when horses and buggies were the main means of transport, it took much longer.
“It reflected the geography and the climate and the slower pace of life in those days,” said Professor Siracusa.
However, as the speed of communication and travel increased over the years, the transition did not take as much time, and with the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1933, the inauguration day was brought forward to January 20th.
Are there any limits to what a president can do during this time?
While the term would mean that “lame ducks” presidents are somehow compromised, it is legally and legally not the case.
In practice, there is no change to the powers and status of a president until he officially leaves office.
You remain Commander in Chief and Director General of the United States.
Indeed, because “lame duck” presidents no longer have to worry about elections again, they are often encouraged to do things they may not otherwise have.
However, you still have the same controls and balances as you did during the rest of the presidency.
Mr Trump has yet to get legislation through Congress, and the order of the executive branch on appointments and rule changes takes time to be processed by the bureaucracy and possibly the courts.
What do presidents usually do during this time?
Presidents can use this deadline to set all kinds of appointments, pass laws, and issue executive orders.
George HW Bush, for example, used US troops to aid the famine and political stabilization efforts in Somalia and launched air strikes in Iraq after violating no-fly zones in a 1991 ceasefire agreement.
Barack Obama signed a $ 500 million grant for the UN Green Climate Fund.
Most often, however, presidents use it to offer pardons.
Offering pardons is one of the few powers that US presidents have completely free.
In his final days in office, Mr. Obama commuted the sentences of Chelsea Manning and more than 200 others.
Mr Bush apologized for staff involved in the Iran-Contra affair, and Bill Clinton pardoned more than 140 people on his last day in office – including his brother and husband at a fundraiser.
No president has ever pardoned himself even though her successor could pardon her, said Professor Siracusa
“That is what Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon did,” said Professor Siracusa.
Vice President Gerald Ford became president after Richard Nixon stepped down and then pardoned Mr. Nixon.
Professor Siracusa said pardons could be sought even if the person had not been charged or charged with a crime.
“You can excuse the president – or anyone else you want to forgive [depending] on the wording – for any crimes they have committed or may have committed, “he said.
What more could Mr Trump do on the way out?
According to Professor Siracusa, Mr. Trump can “do whatever he wants” until he leaves office, even if his legal challenges to the actual outcome don’t work.
“He could get all kinds of expense bills through during this time and make important appointments for the federal judicial system,” he said.
“He could do a lot of things there.”
Mr Trump is likely to use his ability to offer pardons liberally, Professor Siracusa said.
“He could use the president’s powers to pardon his children or other people who might take him on the subway,” he said.
Staff who may be apologized include Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
“He could also spend money, he could even start a war with someone,” said Professor Siracusa.
“I think foreign powers will be watching him very closely during this transition period.”
Some experts also comment that Mr Trump could try to undermine federal red tape, fire officials and destroy records, or even hamper efforts to fight the pandemic.
“Towards the end, politicians do what they can because they can,” said Professor Siracusa.
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