Fact Check: Donald Trump Is NOT In Control Of The Military After January 20, 2021

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Donald Trump Is NOT In Control Of The Military After January 20, 2021 Biden Is

Is Donald Trump in control of the military? No, that's not true: At the time of writing, March 2, 2021, Joe Biden is commander in chief, a position he assumed when he was sworn in as president of the United States on January 20, 2021 on the nation's tv system. This claim's argument that Trump is in control relies on an incorrect interpretation of the "Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019." That bill arranges temporary office space and staff briefings and says nothing about a former president retaining control of the military once he or she leaves office. Some of the "proof" shown in the video is not even the wording of the law itself, but is instead a transcript of debate.

The claim was made during a YouTube video (archived here) published on February 24, 2021. The video was titled "TRUMP'S INAUGURATION IS ON MARCH 4TH!?! (And BIG PROOF That Trump Controls The Military!!!) Ep. 27". At the start of the video, the host identified as Peter Hanna says:

The most exciting piece of evidence I have to share with you is something I learned recently from one of my supporters, who showed me that there is a law that gives Trump control of the military for 60 days after Biden's inauguration, which means March 20. In other words, Trump has legally -- I have bombshell, irrefutable evidence, proof -- that no one can deny that Trump does have control of the military, for at least until March 20.

Click below to watch the video on YouTube:

The idea that Trump still controls the military fits into a larger conspiracy theory, espoused by QAnon and others, that Trump is fighting an evil cabal of Democratic pedophiles and elites who, with impunity, imprison children, abuse them and harvest their adrenal gland secretions, drinking it to achieve immortality. QAnon believers speak of something called "the Storm," a moment when Trump will supposedly expose the cabal and punish those involved. Many thought it would happen January 6, 2021, when rioters ran amok in the U.S. Capitol or on some other day before Biden took office. When it didn't, some believers lost hope; others still think the reckoning will happen, just at a later date. Hanna seems to fall into that category. At 9 minutes, 50 seconds, he said:

Trump still controls the military using this law until March 20, which is enough time to arrest people who have committed treason and make himself inaugurated in March.

This fact-check does not address all the claims that Hanna made during his roughly 18-minute video. It is limited to addressing the video's main claim, which is that Trump still controls the military.

Hanna based that claim on an erroneous understanding of the Constitution and of the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, so let's take a look at the actual legislation here.

The bipartisan bill was signed into law by Trump in March 2020. According to the text, it amended the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 "to improve the orderly transfer of the executive power during Presidential transitions." Among other actions, the bill required the General Services Administration (GSA) and presidential transition teams to enter into a contractual agreement. The GSA, upon request, may provide support to the president-elect, vice president-elect, as well as to the outgoing president and vice president. The bill allowed the GSA to provide transition services for up to 60 days after inauguration.

It makes no mention of a former president retaining control of the military, an alteration that would require amendment of the constitution. That power is transferred on Inauguration Day, when a new president takes the oath of office. Biden was sworn in on January 20, 2021.

Under Article II, Section 2, the Constitution places control of the U.S. Military in the hands of the President:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.

There's no evidence Trump can or will re-assume the presidency in March. All publicly available evidence confirms Biden has been inaugurated and holds the title of commander in chief.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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