President Donald Trump shared a tweet on Sunday questioning whether the constitutionally mandated inauguration date of January 20 can be delayed.
The Constitution explicitly states in the 20th Amendment, which was ratified in 1933, that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” It adds that “the terms of their successors shall then begin.” But Trump‘s trade advisor Peter Navarro argued in an interview with Fox News on Saturday evening that this date could be disregarded.
“Well it can be changed actually. We can go past that date. We can go past that date if we need to,” Navarro told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro after she pointed out that January 20 was enshrined in the Constitution. Many on social media were quick to call out Navarro and criticize his remarks, but others were intrigued by his comments.
Trump retweeted a post by an unverified user going by Ron with the handle @CodeMonkeyZ. Ron, whose bio describes him as a free speech absolutist, wrote: “More interesting is that he suggests the inauguration date of January 20 can be extended.” His remark came in response to another post saying: “Peter Navarro says Pence can reschedule the inauguration?”
Newsweek reached out to the White House and Navarro for comment but they did not immediately respond.
Trump and his loyalist supporters baselessly claim that President-elect Joe Biden won the election through widespread voter fraud. They have not produced evidence to support this extraordinary claim, and more than 50 legal challenges filed by Trump and his loyalists in state and federal courts have failed. Multiple judges appointed by the president and other Republicans have rejected the false allegations.
Navarro’s remarks to Fox News came after a group of GOP senators, led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said they would object to the election results in multiple states won by Biden when the electoral votes are counted in Congress on January 6. They are demanding an audit in key battleground states. Multiple audits and recounts have already been carried out without uncovering significant irregularities, let alone any evidence of fraud that would overturn the results. Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as president of the Senate, voiced support for the GOP effort over the weekend.
“Vice President Pence, he has the authority to give that 10-day window to do what needs to get done, and I cannot imagine when he looks at the facts he won’t vote the right way on that,” Navarro claimed in his Fox News interview.
But many analysts were quick to call out the claims, noting that Pence does not have this power and that the inauguration of Biden cannot be delayed.
“Peter Navarro is lying on both points. Pence has no authority to do anything other than open an envelope and hand the contents to congressional clerks who add the totals of electoral votes. Inauguration Day January 20 is in the constitution. It can’t be changed,” MSNBC host and political commentator Lawrence O’Donnell tweeted.
“Trump advisor Peter Navarro says on Fox News tonight that VP Pence has the authority to reschedule Inauguration Day — which is as ludicrous as it gets. The Constitution clearly says it must be on January 20,” journalist Hugo Lowell tweeted.
The Republican-led effort to object is expected to fail. In order for any objection to succeed, both chambers of Congress would need to approve them. The House of Representatives is narrowly controlled by Democrats and there appears to be enough GOP lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate opposed to their colleagues’ plan as well. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, urged his colleagues last month not to sign on to any objections being brought by House Republicans.
“Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, wrote in an open-letter on Thursday. “But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”