Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics this week:
Why are members of the Republican party, like Senator Mitch McConnell, hesitant to congratulate President Elect Biden?
Well, the reason is, is that President Trump hasn't conceded yet, and they're not going to admit this election is over until either the President concedes, or it becomes really a mathematical certainty that Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th of next year. There's currently a recount going on in Georgia right now. Pennsylvania is still looking at the issue of late arriving mail-in ballots, and in Michigan and other places, the Republican party, and particularly the Trump campaign is alleging campaign fraud. All these things have to work their way through the court. None of the elected Republican leaders want to be the ones who tell the President that he's lost, to end this journey. They want the courts to have that role. Once that process is done, I expect you're going to see a transition of power starting in January, but it could take until the electoral college meets on December 14th, for that to become official, and Republicans to start saying, "You know what Mr. Trump? You don't have much of a shot here. Let's back down."
With 10 weeks left as president, what do you expect from the Trump Administration?
Honestly, not a whole lot. I think that the President is more focused on litigating his reelection campaign right now than he is on any major policy changes. You may see some moves from people like Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State who will take advantage of the situation on the way out the door, perhaps to ratchet up tensions with China. You have seen the President remove his defense secretary, which reportedly had to do with a disagreement over the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, another issue that could come up in the next couple of months. Legislatively, there's the possibility of a fiscal stimulus passing, but I'm feeling pretty bearish on that right now, because the parties in Congress remain really far apart.
And, if the president is focused on re-litigating the campaign, then he's not going to have the energy, and attention to bring the sides together to get a fiscal stimulus done. I'd say that's probably unlikely right now, but it could change, because the President's mood in the lame duck session is going to determine all of the legislative outcomes, including the possibility of our government shutdown on December 11th when the funding bill runs out. We'll see what happens. Lame duck sessions are hard to predict. Members are in weird moods, and presidents who have just lost their bids for re-election are in very weird moods, and they're bringing a bit of unpredictability to the December, and early January timeframe.