After months of racist and misogynist comments from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the recording of him bragging about groping women has finally pushed things over the edge. Republicans have well and truly had enough of their candidate.
Lawyers for the Republican National Committee are spending the weekend trying to figure out if there’s a way to put forward another nominee just one month from election day, Politico reports. Meanwhile, RNC chair Reince Priebus reportedly said the committee would take 48 hours to reevaluate its election strategy.
“RNC has an army of lawyers right now looking at Rule 9 and ballot questions,” a Republican strategist told Politico. The Republican Party’s rule 9 states that the RNC can vote to fill a vacancy that “occurs by reason of death, declination, or otherwise.”
Though the word “otherwise” is vague, the general legal consensus is that the Republicans can only put forward a new candidate if Trump agrees to drop out. Given that he’s announced: “there’s zero chance I’ll quit,” it seems unlikely.
Even if he did exit the race, the process for selecting an alternative is complicated. The nomination would not automatically go to Trump’s VP, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
Instead, the RNC can either reconvene all of the delegates or else hold a vote among all 168 RNC members. A candidate would need an outright majority to secure the nomination, which could take more than one round of voting. Earlier this year, a Republican legal expert told CNN that Trump would have to quit by early September to give the Republican party enough time to elect a new candidate.
But ballots have already printed and, as early voting has already begun in some states, the list of candidates is effectively unchangeable, Steve Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN.
As Quartz reporter Gwynn Guilford has noted, the RNC could formally select a new nominee by the time the Electoral College meets to elect the president on December 19. But, as the public would never have the chance to vote for this nominee, it would be a symbolic measure rather than one with any practical application.
Congressman Charlie Dent has called on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to resign unless they find a way to get Trump off the presidential ticket. But legally, there’s very little that can be done unless Trump steps aside. “Ballots are printed. People are already voting,” one RNC member told CNN. “We just have to live with it.”