Will Trump go to jail

2020 US presidential election - will Trump have to go to jail if he's no longer in office?

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USA expert Arthur Honegger answered questions from SRF users about the US elections live on Facebook. The highlights.

US electoral system: Wouldn't adjustments make sense? It is always discussed how the system can be adapted. The electors are often a source of irritation in Europe. But they have a history and were introduced when the USA was founded. At that time the Americans wanted a federal corrective and not a pure popular election. Otherwise populous regions would dominate and could determine the direction of the country alone. That is why an electors system was chosen. That also makes sense.

As a reminder: In Switzerland, an initiative is also required to have a majority of the people and the cantons, even if the majority of the population is in favor of something, if the majority of the cantons or the cantons do not do this, it will not get through. It is a similar mechanism. In the USA, however, there are reform efforts, one example is the “National Popular Vote” project, with which one can use the electorate to represent a majority.

Is it possible that the electorate will vote differently and Trump will be elected? The electorate is not legally bound everywhere. However, they are elected according to party affiliation. For example, Democrats are sent from Pennsylvania, where Biden won. It would be very surprising if they voted for Trump now.

The chances of this are very small. In 2016 there was an elector, a native of the USA, who cast his vote differently in protest. Such “faithless electors” can be legally prosecuted depending on the state. Ultimately, however, Biden has 306 votes. To get below 270, 37 electors would have to vote against their popular mandate. That is almost impossible.

Presidential immunity: does Trump have to go to jail if he's no longer in office? The President of the USA has some kind of legal protection from prosecution. However, it is not absolute. During the Mueller investigation, it was discussed whether it was possible to indict a president in office. That is why there is no such thing as absolute immunity. Trump doesn't have to go to jail - something would have to be proven to him first.

But there are still various pending issues, be it the question of abuse of office, the obstruction of justice in connection with the Mueller investigation or the various allegations of sexual harassment. And something that will be very interesting is the pre-term tax fraud allegations that are being made at the New York state level.

Handover: does Trump have to be there? In principle, he doesn't have to be there. In theory, he can also go golfing or do something else if he wants to. Many assume that he doesn't, however. But that is an important tradition that shows to the outside that a peaceful handover is taking place. It would be good for the country and it is to be hoped that it will find that size. So he would recognize the result and the new President Biden. And that's important for a democracy.

What if Trump refuses to move out of the White House? Then he would be sort of a squatter. It would be illegitimate in the White House. Trump will avoid that. He sure doesn't want to be taken away from the Secret Service. However, it will be a difficult handover - with little or no cooperation. An ultimate defiant reaction is unlikely to occur. This would also only damage his legacy and possibly the ambitions to come.

Has Trump waged fewer wars than his predecessors? He tried to withdraw like in Syria. However, a president must always react to what is happening in the world. He forced the withdrawal from Syria and relied on selective air strikes. In that sense, he has fought fewer wars than previous presidents.

Obama had already decided to withdraw from Iraq, however, and everything was in progress. Then a new threat emerged with ISIS and it had to react. Nothing like it has happened in the past four years. Trump, for example, ordered the assassination attempt on the Iranian General Soleimani, which was very controversial - also in the USA. He also waged a trade war with China.

USA and Switzerland: Will Biden be able to cooperate well with Switzerland? Biden is very experienced in foreign policy and knows how to act. He has also been to the World Economic Forum (WEF) twice and his wife took part in a vocational training congress in Winterthur a few years ago.

There are certainly good opportunities to cooperate. For Switzerland, however, it is not so important who is in the White House, but what is on the agenda. During the Obama years there was the tax dispute and the tone was more serious. There were virtually no bilateral problems during Trump's tenure. Let's see what happens in the next few years. Switzerland is usually one of the easier partners for the US.

SRF 4 News; 11/17/20; 09.30 a.m.; srf / guty / fiso / fulu; boel

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  • Comment from Florian Kleffel (Hell Flodo)
    The problem is not the electors, but that in extreme cases 50% -1 of the votes are absolutely worthless. They then have ZERO weight! The comparison with Switzerland is weak, and not only because elections and votes are not directly comparable: The majority of the cantons can only prevent something that gets through in the popular majority, but cannot be decisive in the vote. If you want to give less populous countries enough weight, there are surely better ways.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Thomas F. Koch (double ex)
      A division of the electoral votes according to proportional representation would, in my opinion, better cover the ratio of votes to the state. This only happens in Maine and Nebraska, all other states have the "winner takes all" principle.

      I also find that the comparison with the number of estates in voting for the elections is not happy / correct here.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Commentary by Toni Huser (Anthony)
    As far as I can remember, Nixon was pardoned by Gerlad Ford. Joe Biden could do that too! If he does that, he can no longer be helped. In any case, I would not pardon him. He should have to atone for his life's work.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Thomas F. Koch (double ex)
      G. Ford was R. Nixon's vice-president, and when Nixon resigned, he automatically became president. For the Nixon / Ford scenario, Trump would have to resign in the next few weeks and Pence could pardon him as the incoming president.
      That Trump is stepping back is probably as realistic as discovering Atlantis or Eldorado.
      The scenario that Trump tries to pardon himself is more likely.
      With the best will in the world, I cannot imagine that Biden would pardon Trump.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Comment from Paul Borer (Paulus)
    Is Arthur Honegger really a factual USA expert?
    His political one-sidedness and his Trump bashing send their regards on this channel every day.
    I don't think that Trump will really get into trouble after leaving, it's just Honegges wishful thinking.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Your comment (SRF)
      @Paul Borer

      Hello Mr. Borer
      Arthur Honneger responded to a similar comment as follows:

      "Good day. I understand that: The fact that journalists at SRF host a program as well as being experts on certain topics is a recent development. For some time now, however, we have been relying on the expertise of our own people, something with Reto Lipp for business issues or Sebastian Ramspeck for international issues. Since the USA is always a topic in our reporting, it makes sense to have experienced journalists classify the topicality. This competence is a basic requirement, especially for live formats with spontaneous questions. Merci and greetings, Arthur »

      Kind regards, SRF News
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers

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