What if it is determined that the results of the 2016 election for President of the United States should be considered invalid. This question has floated around in my brain for months, but emerges today as a viable to consider. CNN has reported that U.S. officials see evidence of communications between persons close to Donald Trump and Russians. If this ends up being proven to such an extent that it shows active coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian government, we have to consider if the election should be invalidated.
There are two kinds of invalidation to be considered. One is if Trump remains President with horrific approval ratings below 20%. That is, he is faced with serving with no political capital. In my estimation, he would resign in that situation and we would have Pence become President with a similar cloud over his head. The situation for him would be less acute because it was Trump’s friends who were the go-betweens, not Pence’s people. He can claim plausible deniability and probably serve out the remainder of Trump’s term with Ryan in Congress leading the conservative agenda.
The other kind of invalidation is if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Trump and Pence’s election should be considered illegal and that they should be removed from office.* If the Supreme Court makes that ruling and Trump and Pence abide by it and vacate office we have a crisis of the office being abandoned but not by normal constitutional means. It may be that Paul Ryan simply becomes President as third in line. But, it is possible also that the SCOTUS could rule that a new election should be conducted. That would be an unprecedented situation with nominations by parties and other concerns to be managed. Probably, parties would hold emergency conventions or executive council meetings to nominate with a 3 to 6 month campaign ahead while Paul Ryan acts as caretaker President?
We could be entering uncharted waters.
*A similar situation occurs if the House impeaches and Senate tries Trump and Pence to boot them out of office based on this evidence. The difference is this clearly results in the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, becoming President.