Archives for category: Pence

I was glued to the television yesterday, watching the impeachment trial in the Senate.

It’s supposed to be a done deal: the Republicans are so frightened by Trump and his base that only a handful will vote to convict. It seems he will not be held accountable for inciting a violent mob to invade the U.S. Capitol.

The impeachment managers methodically described how Trump had prepared his base long before the election to believe that it would be rigged, unless he won. After the election, he said louder and louder that the election had been stolen, that it was rigged, that he had won in a landslide. He whipped his followers up to a frenzy of rage. After he lost the Electoral College, he stepped up his efforts to reverse the results, putting pressure on state legislators.

Finally, he bullied Vice President Mike Pence, trying to compel him to refuse to certify the votes on January 6. But Pence knew the Constitution did not give him that power, and he refused to do what Trump wanted.

Trump had one last ploy. He called his base to come to D.C. to “stop the steal.” He held a rally and urged his followers to March to the Capitol and “fight like Hell” to stop the Electoral count.

We all know what happened next. An enraged mob overran the Capitol Police, and went hunting for their enemies, especially Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi. They set up a scaffold with a noose to hang Pence. They chanted “hang Mike Pence,” and “get Nancy,” “where’s Nancy.” They ransacked her office while her staff hid.

What we saw was how close the mob came to meeting their goals. The mob breached the building and surged in while both Houses of Congress were in session. The speakers showed with graphic detail how close the mob came to breaking into the Congress and confronting their targets. At one point, the mob was very close to Pence and his family. At one point, Senator Romney was walking towards the incoming mob, but was turned away by an alert Capitol Policeman, Eugene Goodman. Officer Goodman then led the mob away from the Senate while it was still in session.

Our democracy hung in the balance. The mob came within minutes of breaking into both chambers. They could have assassinated Pence, Pelosi, and others. Some had baseball bats, some had stun guns, some were equipped with flex cuffs, ready to take hostages. The mob brutally attacked Capitol Police officers, beating them with bats, clubs, even the poles attached to American flags. The terrorists were in a hot fury.

For many members of Congress, this might have been the first time they saw a complete video of what was happening while they were in seclusion.

It is astonishing that any Senator watched the proceedings and concluded that Trump was not responsible and that the events of the day were no big deal.

January 6 was one of the worst days in our history. It will live in infamy.

This is a great post by Mike Klonsky about the ignominious end of the Trump nightmare.

He planned a big military send-off for himself but was afraid no one would show up, so the invitations went out to people like John Bolton and Anthony Scaramucci, who long ago deserted him. Every invitee was asked to bring five friends to bulk up the audience. Someone said on CNN today that she had seen more people in an Apple store than showed up for Trump’s departure.

Not even Mike Pence showed up! Maybe he was annoyed that Trump told his mob to go after Pence when they vandalized the Capitol building, and they set up a scaffold and chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” That’s not the way you reward four years of puppy-dog loyalty!

Mike also laughed, as I did, at the thought that Woody Guthrie’s iconic “This Land Is Your Land” was sung at the Inauguration. If only Woody knew!

After a Trump-appointed federal judge rejected Rep. Louie Gohmert’s lawsuit seeking to give Vice President Pence the power to throw out the electoral votes of states that voted for Biden, Gohmert appealed to a the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday, a three-judge panel of judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, dismissed Gohmert’s lawsuit.

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Saturday rejected a Republican congressman’s bid to allow Vice President Mike Pence to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory in favor of President Donald Trump.

In a brief order, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s decision on Friday to toss U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert’s lawsuit, which had argued that Pence had the power to invalidate Biden’s win when Congress meets to certify the results on Wednesday.

Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede to Biden, claiming without evidence that his victory was due to widespread fraud. Dozens of election officials and judges around the country have dismissed Trump’s allegations..

Gohmert, a Texas Republican and staunch Trump ally, filed the lawsuit along with Republican electors from Arizona, asserting that Pence could throw out electoral votes in his role as the presiding officer of the Senate.

The Justice Department opposed Gohmert’s lawsuit.

But U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee, ruled on Friday that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue because they had not suffered any personal harm.

The 5th Circuit judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, including a Trump appointee, agreed. The Justice Department, representing Pence, had opposed the lawsuit.

While Republicans are filing lawsuits asking courts to expand the Vice President’s power to reject slates of certified electors, Mike Pence rejected the expanded power they want the courts to give him, which would enable the Vice President to ignore the Electoral College and pick the incoming President.

This lawsuit may be the most hare-brained effort by Trump’s cult to throw out the Constitution.

Vice President Pence asked a judge late Thursday to reject a lawsuit that aims to expand his power to use a congressional ceremony to overturn the presidential election, arguing that he is not the right person to sue over the issue.


The filing will come as a disappointment to supporters of President Trump, who hoped that Pence would attempt to reject some of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college votes and recognize votes for Trump instead when Congress meets next week to certify the November election.


The filing came in response to a lawsuit from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and a number of Republicans in Arizona, who argued that an 1887 law that governs how Congress certifies presidential elections is unconstitutional. The suit argues that the Constitution gives the vice president, in his role as president of Senate, sole discretion to determine whether electors put forward by the states are valid.


It asks a federal judge to take the extraordinary step of telling Pence that he has the right, on his own, to decide that the electoral college votes cast earlier in December for Biden are invalid and to instead recognize self-appointed Trump electors who gathered in several state capitals to challenge the results.


While experts agree that the law is vague and confusing, it has never before been challenged; it has been accepted by officials in both parties for more than 130 years as establishing a process in which the voters, ultimately, choose the president. This year, 81 million voters supported Biden, earning him 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232.

To win a lawsuit, a plaintiff must convince a judge that the interests of the person they are suing are opposed to their own — there must be some controversy or conflict between them that could be resolved through the litigation.

In this case, a Justice Department lawyer, writing on Pence’s behalf, wrote that the interests of Gohmert and the other plaintiffs were not sufficiently opposed to Pence’s own — since they were seeking to expand his power — to justify a suit.


“The Vice President is not the proper defendant to this lawsuit,” wrote Deputy Assistant Attorney General John V. Coghlan.
“The Vice President — the only defendant in this case — is ironically the very person whose power they seek to promote,” he added. “A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction.”


Instead, Coghlan wrote that Congress was the proper defendant for such a suit.


Coghlan wrote that the lawsuit has other problems, too, and that, as a result, the judge should reject the suit, particularly given the limited timeline before next week’s vote, without trying to weigh difficult and never-before-tested constitutional issues.


While the filing dealt with a narrow legal issue, it still offered the first indication that Pence may not plan to reinterpret his role in next week’s ceremony in an attempt to change the election results. Since the election, Pence has echoed some of Trump’s unfounded complaints about the election, but he has been silent on Trump’s attempts to badger Republicans into overturning the results.


Lawyers for the House of Representatives also asked the judge to reject the suit late Thursday, arguing that it called for “a radical departure from our constitutional procedures and consistent legislative practices” and would “authorize the Vice President to ignore the will of the Nation’s voters.” In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the suit had “zero legal merit” and was “yet another sabotage of our democracy.”

The Washington Post reports that Trump allies have filed more lawsuits to overturn the election and are pressuring Mike Pence to block the certification of the results on January 6. Pence has to choose between his loyalty to Trump and his Constitutional duty. Never in American history has a president refused to accept his loss in the election and continued to fight to overturn the results long after the election was decided by bothe voters and the Electoral College. I one of the lawsuits described below, the plaintiffs are suing the “Electoral College,” even though it has no address to serve papers. The most interesting parts of the story are in the second half. Trump’s supporters are ready to shred the Constitution as they fight for the leader of their cult. They are counting on Pence to recognize “electors” who were not certified. It seems almost quaint to remember that ice President Al Gore announced Nixon’s election after Gore won the popular vote but lost Florida’s electors by 537 votes. Gore congratulated the new president. And it was Vice-President Biden who announced Trump’s election in 2016. Trump lost decisively in the Electoral College in 2020, and Biden received seven million votes more than Trump. But Trump will never concede.

President Trump and his allies are growing increasingly desperate as Congress prepares to formally receive the votes that will confirm his election loss next week, filing lawsuits against nonexistent entities and even Trump’s own vice president as they try to come up with new ways to overturn the vote.

One lawsuit filed last week by a conservative group that supports Trump targeted, among others, the electoral college — which does not exist as a permanent body. Another lawsuit filed Sunday by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and several Arizona Republicans against Vice President Pence attempts to get a federal judge to expand Pence’s power to affect the outcome.

Pence will preside over next week’s joint session of Congress, where the electoral votes cast earlier this month will be read aloud. President-elect Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, reflecting Biden’s 81 million votes nationwide as he secured the White House.

Trump has been working to incite his supporters over the ceremonial milestone, falsely portraying it as a final showdown in his battle to alter the election’s outcome. “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it,” Trump tweeted Sunday.

There were some initial signs Tuesday that Trump’s last-ditch appeal may be faltering, even among some of his most fervent supporters.

In an interview, Stanley Grot, a Trump elector in Michigan, a longtime Republican and the clerk of the Detroit suburb of Shelby Township, said he does not plan to come to Washington.

When the electoral college met Dec. 14 to certify Biden’s win in the state, Grot joined other Trump electors in Lansing to register their continued support for the president in a state where Trump has exerted especially strong pressure on supporters to overturn the vote. But Grot said Tuesday that there is nothing more he can do next week.

“It is out of our hands now,” he said.

He said if Congress certifies Biden’s victory, he would “not be in a position to challenge anything,” adding, “we always must respect the office of the presidency.”

Another Michigan elector for Trump, Timothy King of Ypsilanti, also said he has no plans to travel to D.C. — though he said he will not be persuaded of the legitimacy of Biden’s win regardless of what happens in Congress.

“I don’t think Joe Biden would be the legal president if they go through with this,” the retired autoworker said. “People are not stepping up and doing their constitutional duty,” he said, to examine unverified claims of fraud that he and others allege took place.

King is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Michigan election results that has already been rejected by a federal judge; he and his fellow plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to review the matter.

Also Tuesday, the Georgia secretary of state’s office announced the results of a signature audit conducted of mail-in ballots from the November election cast in Cobb County. Working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the secretary of state’s office said it reviewed signatures on 15,118 ballot envelopes, finding none were fraudulent and that all but two included signatures that matched that of the voter on file — demonstrating that election officials who examined the signatures before the vote had a 99.99 percent accuracy rate. Of the two ballots, one was signed by a voter in the wrong place and the second was improperly signed by a voter’s spouse. The voter indicated in an interview with state officials that he filled out the actual ballot.

Republicans’ ability to challenge the congressional process is limited.

Any member of the House, joined by a member of the Senate, could contest the electoral votes, citing an 1880s election law. But the challenge will merely prompt a floor debate followed by a vote in each chamber. Trump will inevitably lose that vote, given that Democrats control the House and a number of Senate Republicans have publicly recognized Biden’s victory, including Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), who has called Trump’s refusal to accept the election dangerous.

Even in the unlikely event that Trump were to prevail in the Senate, where Pence would be in position to cast a tie-breaking vote if needed, the challenge still would fail given the House vote.

Still, a number of Republican members of the House, led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and egged on by the president, have said they plan to challenge votes in swing states where they have made unfounded allegations that the vote was marred by fraud.

One incoming Republican senator, newly elected Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, has said he is considering signing on, as well. He would do so over the opposition of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leading Republican senators, who have said it would be politically harmful to force Republicans to decide whether to back Trump out of loyalty in a vote bound to fail.

Even so, experts fear the vote could cast a cloud over Biden as he prepares to take office Jan. 20, creating the misimpression that his victory was in some way contested or that he was installed by congressional Democrats.

Next week’s ceremony will come at the end of a grueling period in Congress in which Trump angered members of his own party by vetoing a major defense bill and initially balking at a coronavirus relief measure that had been negotiated by his own aides. The legislative maneuvering may also dampen Republican enthusiasm to back Trump’s futile effort to overturn the election.

The lawsuits are designed to get a judge to expand Republican options in Congress next week — or to create the impression that the law might allow additional options.

Trump and his allies have already sought judicial intervention in dozens of suits filed since the election and have met no success. More than 90 state and federal judges, appointed by members of both parties, have rejected challenges to the election by the president, his campaign and his allies.

In some cases, judges have found that the party objecting to the election did not have standing to sue, or inappropriately challenged the voting procedures only after the election.

But in many of the suits, judges evaluated Trump’s claims of fraud and found there was no evidence to support them.

Gohmert’s suit, which was joined by a group of Republicans in Arizona including the chairwoman of the state GOP, argued that the law that governs next week’s congressional action is unconstitutional because it impinges on Pence’s sole authority to recognize electors. The suit argues that a federal judge should order that Pence can choose to recognize alternate electors who support Trump should he wish to do so.

Legal experts said the lawsuit was meritless and would probably be dismissed by a federal judge for multiple reasons.

Among other things, the suit envisions competing slates of electors from which Pence could choose. However, despite intense pressure from Trump, no state legislature actually agreed to set aside the November vote and appoint alternate electors. Instead, informal groups of Trump supporters met in some state capitols earlier this month and appointed themselves electors, in ceremonies that had no force of law.

In a statement, Gohmert nevertheless asserted that seven states had sent “dueling slates of electors” to Washington.

“We continue to hold out hope that there is a federal judge who understands that the fraud that stole this election will mean the end of our republic, and this suit would insure that the Vice-President will only accept electors legitimately and legally elected,” he said.

The case, which was filed in Texas, has been randomly assigned to District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee who took the bench in 2018.

Gohmert and his fellow plaintiffs have requested a hearing no later than Thursday and a ruling by the judge by Monday. In a filing Tuesday, their lawyers revealed that they had contact with attorneys for the vice president and the Justice Department and were unable to come to an agreement with them about the suit, including about when Pence must file a response. They asked the judge to order Pence to respond by the close of business Wednesday.

In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, also a plaintiff in the suit, called it a “friendly lawsuit.”

“It’s all on the shoulders of Vice President Mike Pence, and we have this lawsuit to assist him in being able to do his job and to do it well,” she said.

The suit highlights the awkward role Pence will play next week, when, by law, the task of presiding over the last step before Biden takes the oath falls to the vice president. A Pence spokesman did not respond to questions about the suit. A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment.

“This Gohmert suit has had me scratching my head, and I don’t think the courts will take it seriously,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican election law expert who has been reviewing such cases as a member of the nonpartisan National Task Force on Election Crises.

Among other problems, Potter said the remedy Gohmert is seeking “would stand the Constitution on its head. It would effectively deliver to the vice president the right to determine who won the presidential election. If the vice president has authority to pick his favorite electors, then you wouldn’t need a Congress or a Constitution.”

Norm Eisen, a Democrat who is counsel to the nonpartisan Voter Protection Program, called the Gohmert lawsuit even more “absurd and extreme” than those that came before.

“This attempt to throw out the entire legal structure which has guided American presidential elections for almost 150 years is utterly unfounded,” Eisen said. “It is destined to end up where sixty-plus other cases have: the legal ash heap.”

Eisen’s group has been monitoring the efforts closely in the courts and in key states and has worked out an expected timeline of events on Jan. 6, when the two chambers will meet at 1 p.m.

They confidently predict that the day will end with Biden officially being declared the president-elect.

“If they choose to waste the time of Congress and the nation in the middle of a health and economic crisis, it will be for no purpose at all, except to stroke the president’s ego,” Eisen said.


During the last Trump-Biden debate, the moderator asked about the children separated from their parents. Trump said they were brought across the border by “coyotes,” and that they had never experienced such clean and pleasant surroundings. Biden expressed great remorse for the children who were wrenched from the arms of their parents (not “coyotes”) and left alone.

In my view, this cruel policy of separating parents from their children at the border should be prosecuted as a crime against humanity. International courts should press charges against Trump, Pence, Sessions, and anyone else who was responsible. The parents were deported, and the children were locked up, some of them in cages. Some of them were infants. Contrary to Trump’s claim in the debate, the Obama administration deported families; it did not separate the children from their parents and keep the children while the parents were deported.

The purpose of Trump’s inhumane policy was to discourage immigration by frightening them. The children were separated 2-3 years ago; private groups have been searching for their parents. The Trump administration has stood in their way and claims the parents don’t want the children they lost by force.

Now we know that 545 children are stranded here, and no one knows who or where their parents are. Some of these children are babies who do not know their names. Biden said it: this was “criminal.” Biden was right. The criminals should be prosecuted.


The dissident Republicans who created The Lincoln Project are fast and funny.

Here is “Covita.” It shows Trump returning to the White House after his hospitalization for COVID.

This one is called “Adultery.” It shows a sharp contrast between Pence’s Biblical view of marriage and Trump’s life. #hypocrisy

You may wonder, What’s a libertarian school? Good question. It’s not Summerhill. Read Mitchell Robinson’s post about Thales Academy in Apex, North Carolina, which is a voucher school.

It’s a low-cost, low-quality Private school that’s designed to standardize students and protect them from creative or critical thinking. It’s yet another entrant in DeVos’ “Cabinet of Horrors.” More of this and we will slip back into primordial slime.

This piece was published today on the New York Review of Books blog. Readers of this blog will be familiar with its contents. Readers of the NYBR blog will learn about the debate about how and when to reopen schools and will learn about how Trump and Pence strong-armed the CDC and forced it to weaken its guidance to schools on reopening.

Trump cares more about his re-election than about the lives of America’s students and school staff. He proved it. Today he tweeted a suggestion that the November elections should be delayed, a decision that belongs to Congress, not to him. You can bet that if Congress agreed (the Democratic House would never agree), there would never be another election in his lifetime. His good friend Putin should won a referendum to keep him in power until 2026. Trump must be envious.

Trump decided a few weeks ago that he could help his prospects for re-election if he could get schools across the nation to reopen fully, regardless of the state of the pandemic in their community, regardless of the risks to students and staff. He has threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that refuse to reopen fully, and he proclaimed that he and Pence were pressuring the CDC to weaken its guidelines.

At first, the CDC held firm, urging schools to practice social distancing, to require personal protective equipment, and not to reopen unless all safety precautions were in place.

But the CDC buckled to the White House pressure. It changed the tone of its guidance, now stressing the necessity of reopening over the importance of safety.

Now the CDC sings the song that Trump, Pence, and DeVos want to hear.

The top U.S. public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new “resources and tools” posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement that sounded more like a political speech than a scientific document, listing numerous benefits for children of being in school and downplaying the potential health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the new guidance two weeks after President Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive,” ramping up what had already been an anguished national debate over the question of how soon children should return to classrooms. As the president was criticizing the initial C.D.C. recommendations, a document from the agency surfaced that detailed the risks of reopening and the steps that districts were taking to minimize those risks [the document was incorrectly dated 2019].

“Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families,” the new opening statement said.

The package of materials began with the opening statement, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall,” and repeatedly described children as being at low risk for being infected by or transmitting the coronavirus, even though the science on both aspects is far from settled.

“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the statement said. “At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”

While children infected by the virus are at low risk of becoming severely ill or dying, how often they become infected and how efficiently they spread the virus to others is not definitively known. Children in middle and high schools may also be at much higher risk of both than those under 10, according to some recent studies.

Beyond the statement, the package included decision tools and checklists for parents, guidance on mitigation measures for schools to take and other information that some epidemiologists described as helpful.

The new materials are meant to supplement guidance the C.D.C. previously issued on when and how to reopen schools, with recommendations such as keeping desks six feet apart and keeping children in one classroom all day instead of allowing them to move around.

The new statement released on Thursday is a stark departure from the 69-page document, obtained by The New York Times earlier this month, marked “For Internal Use Only,” which was intended for federal public health response teams to have as they are deployed to hot spots around the country.

That document classified as “highest risk” the full reopening of schools, and its suggestions for mitigating the risk of school reopenings would be expensive and difficult for many districts, like broad testing of students and faculty and contact tracing to find people exposed to an infected student or teacher.

An Associated Press/NORC poll this week found that most Americans said they were very or extremely concerned that reopening K-12 schools for in-person instruction would contribute to spreading the virus. Altogether, 80 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned, including more than three in five Republicans.

Thanks to Trump, the public can no longer trust the impartiality of the CDC. Under pressure, it revised its guidelines to please the president. Science will not “get in the way” of Trump’s political campaign. Any student or teacher or other school personnel who dies because of a premature opening will be blood on the hands of Trump, Pence, DeVos, and the CDC.

The CDC and its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, are hereby enrolled on the blog’s Wall of Shame.