There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution allowing for the “reinstatement” of a president who lost an election. But according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, that doesn’t matter to nearly a third of Republicans who say it’s likely former President Donald Trump will be reinstated this year.
He will not.
The poll, which also showed 77% of respondents believe American democracy is threatened, surveyed nearly 2,000 adults earlier this month. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans believe the baseless notion that Trump will be reinstated — a conspiracy theory promulgated by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell that Trump has floated to confidants, according to The New York Times and The National Review. Seventy-two percent of Americans, including 61% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats, do not think it’s likely Trump will be reinstated.
The idea is linked to Trump’s repeated baseless claims that widespread election fraud or irregularities cost him the White House. In fact, Biden won by more than 7 million popular votes and bested Trump in the Electoral College 306 to 232. Congress certified the electoral count in January despite the failed, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump followers.
Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law school professor, told CNN that “it would take a new constitutional amendment to change” Inauguration Day or create a mechanism to reinstate a former president. Inauguration Day is always Jan. 20, per the 20th Amendment ratified in 1933.
Biden has said he plans to run again in 2024, so barring unforeseen circumstances, it’s unlikely he resigns. The only way to remove the Democrat before his term expires — according to the Constitution — is through impeachment and conviction, or through the 25th Amendment if the vice president and Cabinet agree that he is unable to perform his duties.
Either occurrence wouldn’t involve Trump, however. Vice President Kamala Harris would be sworn in as president in any scenario involving Biden’s resignation or removal, according to the Constitution.
Charles Cooke, the conservative National Review writer and Trump critic, wrote last week that the notion of reinstatement is “a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government.”
“There is no Reinstatement Clause within the United States Constitution,” he added. “Hell, there is nothing even approximating a Reinstatement Clause within the United States Constitution. The election has been certified, Joe Biden is the president, and, until 2024, that is all there is to it. It does not matter what one’s view of Trump is. It does not matter whether one voted for or against Trump. It does not matter whether one views Trump’s role within the Republican Party favorably or unfavorably. We are talking here about cold, hard, neutral facts … irrespective of one’s preferences; it is not too much to ask that the former head of the executive branch should understand them.”
The Politico/Morning Consult poll comes about a week after a survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core on the QAnon conspiracy movement, which is closely tied to false claims of election fraud. That poll showed that 15% of Americans — including nearly a quarter of Republicans — say they believe “the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”
Seventy-three percent of believers of QAnon — labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI — think Trump should still be in the White House, where Biden has called out increasing threats to democracy in the U.S. and abroad.
At least 20% of Americans believe a core QAnon tenet that “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.” Fifteen percent say the country is “so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” according to the poll.
Local, state and federal election officials of both major parties — from town clerks and county boards to secretaries of state and judges appointed by Trump himself — argue no widespread fraud or irregularities affected the 2020 presidential race.
Trump’s own Homeland Security experts called the election “the most secure in U.S. history,” and said they found zero evidence that polling machines were tampered with, a frequent false claim spread by Trump lawyers, Republican politicians and followers on social media. Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, said the Justice Department investigated and found no evidence of widespread fraud.