US President Donald Trump has not accepted the election result and it’s not entirely clear if the November 3 vote is at risk. Meanwhile, he still has 11 weeks to exercise his powers for political revenge or to claim immunity.
US President-elect Joe Biden has formally started his transition to the White House after declaring victory in the presidential election but President Donald Trump has not formally conceded, making a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations about election fraud to cement his position: the fight is not over yet.
To say that it was an acrimonious contest between the two 70-something nominees is somewhat of an understatement. In his bid to win the White House, Trump alleged improprieties by Biden and his son, Hunter, tweeted numerous times without citing proof that the election "was stolen" by the Democrats and tried to convince the electorate against mail-in ballots by casting them in a fraudulent light without proof. Many of his tweets alleging fraud were flagged by Twitter.
Due to a historic number of early mail-in ballots and a deeply divided United States, it took five days to call the election. Four states have still not been given to either candidate as yet: Alaska and North Carolina which are most likely to back Trump and Arizona and Georgia where Biden leads the count.
Trump has admitted he is not good at losing in the form of legal battles contesting results in order to keep his 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address.
However, in all likelihood, Trump has two-plus final months in office and he is not expected to go down easy.
With so much time in his hands, many predict he could take a more vindictive path with last-day acts ranging from executive orders crippling Democrats to obstructing the fight against Covid-19.
Here is what he could do before leaving office:
Fire Esper (done) and others
CNN reported that Trump had been expected to fire Esper for quite some time now, citing several defence sources, including one senior defence official.
Esper prepared his resignation letter a long time ago, the sources said.
The two disagreed on a range of issues and Trump was particularly angered by Esper's public opposition to his threats to use active duty military forces this summer to suppress street protests over racial injustice after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Trump is expected to fire more employees he either appointed and thinks did not deliver or some who are supposed to stay on after his departure from the White House.
He has already fired three chiefs of staff in four years.
FBI Director Chris Wray may be one of them. He was confirmed by the Senate in 2007, a position that carries a 10-year term.
Trump called Wray "disappointing" after Wray said he found no evidence of voter fraud following Trump's allegations.
Back in 2019, Trump berated Wray after a government investigation found no evidence of political bias when the FBI began investigating contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.
Inspectors general, the oversight division of each federal agency, might be under the president's radar.
Michael Horowitz, appointed by Obama, could be the next in line to be fired over his report that found the investigation into Russia meddling in the US 2016 election was justified.
Trump previously fired IG Michael Atkinson over providing information which led to the president's impeachment.
CIA Director Gina Haspel might have the same fate after she refused to deny reports Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
Get rid of Dr Fauci
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic as something that would disappear on its own as the death toll from the virus in the country reaches at 243,768 and counting.
Even after Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, contracted the virus, the president continued to downplay the risk of the virus.
A new wave of Covid-19 rattled the White House during election week. Six White House aides in total, including Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and a Trump campaign adviser tested positive for the virus.
His relationship with Dr Antony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has been rocky from the start.
Fauci was appointed as the head of the Covid-19 task force after the confirmation of the first Covid-19 case in the US. He and Trump since then have publicly disagreed on most virus measures, with the doctor issuing dire warnings that would contradict with Trump's rosy view of the country "turning the corner" in the outbreak.
At a campaign rally in South Florida in November 2, Trump hinted he might fire Fauci.
"Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election," Trump told his supporters chanting “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!”
However, Fauci is a civil servant and protected by law from political retaliation or pressure and has the right to appeal a termination.
Pardon himself and allies
Trump's final hours in office can be crucial for several federal investigations.
He could pardon himself and his allies and avoid being investigated for from tax-fraud or any other alleged federal crimes.
In 2018, Trump said he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018
Trump has granted clemency to supporters before, most notably earlier this year when he commuted the criminal sentence of Roger Stone, who was sentenced to prison after being convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers.
He could expand his power to pardon close allies such as former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about discussions he had with a Russian official before Trump took office in 2017 and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
But the pardon power is not absolute. Crucially, a pardon only applies to federal crimes.
That means pardons would not, for example, protect Trump associates from the criminal investigation being conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a state prosecutor, in a probe that began two years ago on hush-money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid before the 2016 election to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
READ MORE: Pardon me? Whom has Trump set free so far?
Trump has the authority to veto new funding legislation or force a government shutdown to get lawmakers to agree with his plans.
The president is not new to this. He has shut the government before, trying to convince lawmakers to approve more than $5 billion for his planned Mexico border wall.
Thousands of federal workers were left without a paycheck and crucial services were halted, in the longest shutdown in US history.
Washington Post reported that Trump has weakened or wiped out more than 125 rules and policies related to protecting the environment.
Before the election, he ramped up efforts to ease requirements on power plants that leak waste into waterways and even approve seismic drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge.
Earlier in July, President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that did not open following their closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” Trump said on Twitter, pointing to schools reopening in some European countries with no problems. Most of Europe has since headed into a lockdown
In August, he said he was blocking Democrats’ effort to include funds for the US Postal Service and election infrastructure in a new coronavirus relief bill, a bid to block more Americans from voting by mail during the pandemic.
Go after Hunter Biden
After the New York Post published a story about a laptop hard drive obtained by Rudy Giuliani after it was dropped off at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019 that contained evidence about Joe Biden's son Hunter and his business deals in Chian, Trump tried to appoint a prosecutor to investigate him for corruption.
The hard drive allegedly contained an email from April 2015 in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father in Washington, though there is no record of such a meeting on then-vice president Biden’s official schedule.
Biden denied all the corruption allegations.
But Trump tried to pursue the case again two weeks before the election.
“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody, this is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election,” he said.
So far, no investigation has been launched.
Restrict paths to immigration even more
Immigration is Trump's most criticised policy.
His "zero tolerance" stance for illegal border crossers left many children alone as parents were sent back. Many of the children separated from their family could not be found and were perhaps sent to distant relatives or foster families.
Trump has said his administration is preparing an overhaul of the immigration policies that could see the rules on visas change completely.
Trump sought to end former president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the so-called “Dreamers” living in the United States illegally after entering as children, under which roughly 644,000 Dreamers are granted deportation relief and work permits.
But the US Supreme Court ruled in June that Trump’s administration did not follow proper legal procedures.
In July, the administration said it will reject any new applications for the ‘Dreamer’ immigrant programme and shorten the deportation protections of those whose eligibility is soon to expire.
The administration said it would still consider ending the programme.
Trump has lost the 2020 election but votes in some states are still being counted.
After a transition period, the new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January.