Numerous conspiratorial Twitter posts in the last week have suggested that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has yet to step down from her Senate seat because “she knows” something’s amiss about the election results.
Just five of these tweets — including ones from conservative author Dinesh D’Souza and conservative activist Ryan Fournier — have amassed more than 41,000 shares and more than 172,000 likes.
Some have compared Harris’ continuing tenure with former President Barack Obama’s resignation from his Senate seat in mid-November 2008. But there is nothing unusual about Harris staying in her position a month after the election. In fact, Obama’s resignation was the earliest for any president-elect or vice president-elect who held public office of the last 50 years.
Obama’s own vice president, current President-elect Joe Biden, did not step down from his Senate seat until five days before the inauguration in January 2009 — “not because he doubted the outcome of the election” but because he wanted to reach a certain milestone, said Heath Brown, a public policy professor at John Jay College who researches presidential transitions.
Biden was sworn in for a seventh Senate term days before he resigned in 2009, becoming the youngest person to reach that number and, at the time, the 14th longest serving senator in U.S. history.
Like Biden, Harris may have her own reasons for staying on: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking his time to choose her successor and she may be needed to cast votes — as she did last month to at least temporarily block a nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Harris also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and “President Trump continues to make judicial nominations during the lame-duck period, and she would want to participate in the hearings,” said Ross Baker, a professor at Rutgers University and expert on the Senate.
Moreover, experts said they were unaware of any set timeline or requirement for the incoming administration to leave their old posts.
President Donald Trump ran his private business before his inauguration. Indiana’s official website listed Vice President Mike Pence as its governor until Jan. 9, 2017, the day that its current governor was inaugurated.
Former President George W. Bush resigned as governor of Texas in late December 2000 while his vice president, Dick Cheney, retired from the Halliburton Co. before the election.
Former President Bill Clinton stepped down as governor of Arkansas in late December 1992, and former Vice President Al Gore as senator in early January 1993.
Former President George H.W. Bush never resigned from his previous post as vice president to Ronald Reagan before he stepped up to the top job. His own vice president, Dan Quayle, left the Senate in early January 1989.
Reagan and his predecessor, former President Jimmy Carter, had been out of office before their elections. Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, resigned from the Senate in late December 1976.
Former President Richard Nixon worked as a private lawyer before his election, and his first vice president, Spiro Agnew, left his post as governor of Maryland in January 1969.