What Donald Trump can and will do in his final weeks as President

Democrat Joe Biden is the new President-elect of the United States after he clinched crucial battleground state Pennsylvania on Sunday, but incumbent Donald Trump still has over 70 days left in office before he hands over the reins.

Some political analysts are worried Trump's final weeks could be the most dangerous period in US history, and he could "wreak havoc" if he chooses to, the Guardian reported.

Here's what you need to know:

When does Biden take the White House?

As the votes came trickling in last week, Biden secured 279 electoral votes, more than the majority needed to win the Presidency.

However, there are still several steps left in the electoral process before he takes over.

Many states are still counting votes, four are yet to declare a winner, and Trump has recently launched legal action over unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

According to the Guardian, all election disputes, state recounts and court contests must be completed by December 8 when the electors vote for the next President on behalf of their state.

On January 6, the House and Senate hold a joint session where the electoral votes are counted and the results are officially announced by the President of the Senate, who is currently Vice President Mike Pence.

The President-elect will then be sworn into office during the inauguration ceremony on January 20 and will move into the White House.

However, until then, Trump remains Commander In Chief of the United States.

New President-elect Joe Biden.
New President-elect Joe Biden. Photo credit: Getty

What can Trump do before Biden's inauguration?

Trump is now a 'lame duck' President, a term used to refer to them during the period between them losing an election and their successor being sworn in. 

During this time he is still able to make appointments, pass laws and make executive orders, according to ABC news.

But what makes the political spell particularly interesting is "lame duck" Presidents generally don't have to worry about facing election again, and they are therefore often emboldened to make moves that they wouldn't otherwise have made.

What have previous 'lame duck' presidents done?

When George WH Bush was preparing to leave the White House in 1992-3 he deployed US troops to provide famine relief and political stabilisation efforts in Somalia.

He also launched airstrikes in Iraq after the country violated no-fly-zone provisions in a 1991 ceasefire agreement, according to NBC news.

During Bill Clinton's final weeks in office, he pardoned 140 people, including his brother and the husband of a party fundraiser.

Barack Obama signed a $500 million grant for the UN Green Climate Fund, and then three days before Trump's inauguration, he commuted the sentences of over 200 people, including WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Former President of the United States, Barack Obama. Photo credit: Getty

What do commentators believe he will do?

"If Trump loses power he'll spend his last 90 days wrecking the United States like a malicious child with a sledgehammer in a china shop," Malcolm Nance, a veteran intelligence analyst and political author, told The Guardian before the election.

"We're likely to see the greatest political temper tantrum in history. He may decide he wants to go out with a bang, he may decide he will not accept the election result. Who knows what a cornered autocrat will do?"

Analysts believe Trump will likely issue pardons during his final days in office, one of the few powers where the President has complete discretion.

"Trump will likely spend his last months in a flurry of self-dealing, tossing out pardons and trying to discredit his opponents and the system itself," Garry Kasparov, chair of the Human Rights Foundation, said in an opinion piece for CNN.

While pardons are typically given to people who have been prosecuted, pardons can cover conduct that has not yet resulted in legal proceedings.

He could choose to pardon his family, or potentially himself.

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty

"When people ask me if a President can pardon himself, my answer is always, 'Well, he can try,'" said Brian Kalt, a constitutional law professor at Michigan State University. "The Constitution does not provide a clear answer on this."

Malcolm Nance said there was "absolutely no question" Trump would pardon himself.

"He has always fixed things in his life, and he now believes he owns the American judicial system," Nance told The Guardian.

Other actions Trump could take in his final weeks include converting political appointees to career employees, finalising the rules that administrations write to enact laws passed by Congress, and firing staff.

Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, predicted FBI Director Chris Wray is "likely first on Trump's hit list".

Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene said they thought CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper could also be fired.

Retired university expert in presidential transitions John Burke told axios.com it "might be tempting" for Trump to fire those he deems disloyal, but it "will not serve him well over the long run".

"Pettiness is an expensive exercise."