Conspiracy theories always circulate, particularly surrounding elections. And one that has made the rounds this cycle involves a Donald Trump win and walk off.
Here’s how the theory goes: The Republican presidential candidate beats Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in November. But instead of taking the presidency, Trump does something no one else elected to the nation’s highest office has done before: He drops out.
Sounds far-fetched, but when Trump was asked about the possibility in a line of questioning, Trump “flashed a mischievous smile,” according to the New York Times.
“I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, before leaving Trump Tower for a campaign rally in New Hampshire.
And while the coy answer could be meant as a play for publicity, Trump not actually wanting the presidency has been mentioned before. An ex-strategist penned an open letter to Trump supporters during the primaries that said Trump never intended to actually win.
“I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all,” Stephanie Cegielski wrote. “He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy.”
And it’s unclear what would happen if Trump did pull the unprecedented walk off. It partially depends on the timing, Alexander Keyssar, a historian at Harvard who is working on a book about the Electoral College, told the New York Times.
The President of the Senate officially counts the Electoral College votes in January under the 12th Amendment. If Trump left before that moment, Keyssar said it’s unclear what would happen. But if Trump waited until after that count but before his inauguration, Keyssar said the 20th Amendment could mandate the vice president take over at that point. But it’s hard to say, because “nothing like this has ever happened,” Keyssar said.
Trump hasn’t picked a vice presidential candidate yet, and on Thursday morning his son, Eric Trump, suggested that his sister and Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, would be the best choice.