Archives for category: Trump

Political reporter David Sanger wrote a fascinating analysis of Trump’s attempt to reverse the results of the election. Trump lost the electoral college; Biden won 306 votes, surpassing the necessary 270. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly six million votes. He obviously forgot that he swore an oath on the Bible to defend the Constitution. He is actively subverting it.

David Sanger wrote:

President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.

Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.

“I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, before adding, “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.” Although Mr. Biden dismissed Mr. Trump’s behavior as embarrassing, he acknowledged that “incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”

Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.

Even if Mr. Trump somehow pulled off his electoral vote switch, there are other safeguards in place, assuming people in power do not simply bend to the president’s will.

The first test will be Michigan, where Mr. Trump is trying to get the State Legislature to overturn Mr. Biden’s 157,000-vote margin of victory. He has taken the extraordinary step of inviting a delegation of state Republican leaders to the White House, hoping to persuade them to ignore the popular vote outcome.

“That’s not going to happen,” Mike Shirkey, the Republican leader of the Michigan State Senate, said on Tuesday. “We are going to follow the law and follow the process.”

Beyond that, Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, could send Congress a competing electoral slate, based on the election vote, arguing that the proper procedures were ignored. That dispute would create just enough confusion, in Mr. Trump’s Hail Mary calculus, that the House and Senate together would have to resolve it in ways untested in modern times.

Federal law dating to 1887, passed in reaction to the Hayes election, provides the framework, but not specifics, of how it would be done. Edward B. Foley, a constitutional law and election law expert at Ohio State University, noted that the law only required Congress to consider all submissions “purporting to be the valid electoral votes.”

But Michigan alone would not be enough for Mr. Trump. He would also need at least two other states to fold to his pressure. The most likely candidates are Georgia and Arizona, which both went for Mr. Trump in 2016 and have Republican-controlled legislatures and Republican governors.

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona has said he will accept the state election results, although only after all the campaign lawsuits are resolved. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, where a hand recount reaffirmed Mr. Biden’s victory on Thursday, has not publicly said one way or another who won his state.

Mr. Trump has said little in public apart from tweets endorsing wild conspiracy theories about how he was denied victory. Yet his strategy, if it can be called that, has become clear over two days of increasingly frenetic action by a president 62 days from losing power.

In just that time, Mr. Trump has fired the federal election official who has challenged his false claims of fraud, tried to halt the vote-certification process in Detroit to disenfranchise an overwhelmingly Black electorate that voted against him, and now is misusing the powers of his office in his effort to take Michigan’s 16 electoral votes away from Mr. Biden.

In many ways it is even more of an attempted power grab than the one in 1876. At the time, Hayes was governor of Ohio, not president of the United States. Ulysses S. Grant was, and when Hayes won — also by wrenching the vote around in three states — he became known as “His Fraudulency.”

“But this is far worse,” said Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian and author of “Presidents of War.” “In the case of Hayes, both sides agreed that the outcome in at least three states was in dispute. In this case, no serious person thinks enough votes are in dispute that Donald Trump could have been elected on Election Day.”

“This is a manufactured crisis. It is a president abusing his huge powers in order to stay in office after the voters clearly rejected him for re-election.”

He added: “This is what many of the founders dreaded.”

Mr. Trump telegraphed this strategy during the campaign. He told voters at a rally in Middletown, Pa., in September that he would win at the polls, or in the Supreme Court, or in the House — where, under the 12th Amendment, every state delegation gets one vote in choosing the president. (There are 26 delegations of 50 dominated by Republicans, even though the House is in the hands of the Democrats.)

“I don’t want to end up in the Supreme Court, and I don’t want to go back to Congress, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress,” he said then. “Does everyone understand that?”

Now that is clearly the Plan B, after the failure of Plan A, an improvisational legal strategy to overturn election results by invalidating ballots in key states. In state after state, the president’s lawyers have been laughed out of court, unable to provide evidence to back up his claims that mail-in ballots were falsified, or that glitches on voting machines with software from Dominion Voting Systems might, just might, have changed or deleted 2.7 million votes.

Those theories figured in a rambling news conference that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, held with other members of his legal team on Thursday. The group threw out a series of disconnected arguments to try to make the case that Mr. Trump really won. The arguments included blaming mail-in ballots that they said were prone to fraud as well as Dominion, which they suggested was tied to former President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela (who died seven years ago), and had vague connections to the Clinton Foundation and George Soros, the philanthropist and billionaire Democratic fund-raiser.

“That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history,” Christopher Krebs, who was fired Tuesday night by Mr. Trump as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Thursday afternoon.

“And possibly the craziest,” he went on. “If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re lucky.”

Mr. Krebs has often noted that the purpose of a reliable election system is to convince those who lost elections that they have, indeed, lost.

Even some of Mr. Trump’s onetime enthusiasts and former top aides have abandoned him on his claims, often with sarcastic derision. “Their basic argument is this was a conspiracy so vast and so successful that there’s no evidence of it,” said John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s third national security adviser, who was ousted last year.

“Now if that’s true, I really want to know who the people are who pulled this off,” he said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We need to hire them at the C.I.A.”

On this subject, here is another excellent article:

WHY TRUMP IS LIKELY TO FAIL IN HIS EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY.


I promised myself I would not post anything about Orange 45 unless absolutely necessary. Then I read this. Dave Pell asks a crucial question:

Is a coup still a coup even if that coup is totally coup coup? Yes, Trumpist efforts to overturn the election have been laughable, lawless, and ludicrous, and have officially put the Lame into this Lame Duck session. Rudy Giuliani literally melting down during a conspiracy theory filled presser attended by his son who hours later tested positive for coronavirus certainly had elements of dark (running) humor. Was it hair dye dripping down the side of his face? Was it mascara? My guess is that it was snake oil. Whatever it was, it’s rare that you can spring a leak from both temples and have it be the least embarrassing part of a public appearance. The assertions were so absurd that we felt nostalgic for Rudy’s better days back at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. And yes, amid all the weird theories thrown out by what Jenna Ellis described as the president’s “elite strike force team” there were only a few actual legal claims, all unsubstantiated, except those substantiated by the wrong data. For example, “the affidavit Sidney Powell hyped, which alleges that many precincts in Michigan have more votes than actual voters, is based on data from Minnesota.” At least they picked two states that begin with the letter M. And M&Ms melt in your mouth not on your face. So yes, yes, it’s all meme-ably hilarious. But this administration, with the backing of its party, is also launching very real attack on the core principles of democracy. The GOP’s official Twitter account shared an excerpt of the instantly infamous presser in which Sidney Powell explains that President Trump won by a landslide. General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy, whose job it is to certify the clear election outcome, has still refused to do so. President Trump is meeting with Michigan officials in the White House to convince them to reverse the vote in their state. And he’s trying to set up meetings with officials from Pennsylvaniaahead of that state’s Monday vote certification. Will any of this work? Almost certainly not. But if you try to shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and you miss because you’re a lousy shot (or because your leaking mascara-sweat dripped all the way to your trigger finger), it’s still attempted murder. And the president, with almost no pushback from his minions or his party, is attempting to murder American democracy. So it’s funny. But in a very unfunny sort of a way. But for the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of illnesses, and incalculable damage to America and democracy writ large, this would all be funny. 

+ “Trump’s effort to subvert the election results has been made explicit and unmistakably clear. He is no longer merely pursuing spurious lawsuits in state courts; in recent days, he and his lawyers have confirmed publicly that Trump now is trying to directly overturn the election results and the will of the American people by pressuring Republican state legislators to appoint electors who will vote for Trump in the Electoral College instead of Biden. The fact that Trump is almost certain not to succeed in actually remaining in office past January 20thdoes not in any way make this less alarming.” Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker: Trump’s Clown Coup Crisis

+ Why Trump’s Attempts to Overturn 2020 Election Are Unparalleled in US History

+ A long, long, long shot? Yes. Impossible? WaPo: Just because an attempt to steal an election is ludicrous and ham-handed doesn’t mean it can’t work

+ Let the record show that Mitt Romney, from the impeachment to the coup attempt, is the one GOP senator to take a principled stand. He may not be your favorite. He may not have done the right thing every time. But as we remember the enablers, let’s remember those who spoke out. Sasse, Romney pan Trump campaign’s tactics in contesting election

+ Meanwhile, after the hand recount, Biden (on his birthday) won Georgia again. (Does that mean Trump now needs two conspiracy theories for Georgia?)

The Boston Globe has the story, as does every other news outlet:

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.”

The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is refusing to recognize the victory of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal.

Dino Grandoni writes in the Washington Post that the Trump administration is rushing through actions that will be difficult for the Biden administration to reverse. One of them involves formerly protected wilderness in Alaska.

President Trump refuses to acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 election. But his outgoing environmental deputies are still hurrying to complete more than a dozen agency actions in expectation of hitting the exits.

With just two months until Joe Biden becomes president, Trump appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency and elsewhere are up against the clock to lock in rules changes. The last-minute efforts could affect everything from vast tracts of remote Arctic wilderness and air quality nationwide to the everyday showers and clothes dryers in people’s homes.

Biden has promised to undo many of the regulatory rollbacks completed over the past fours years. But some of the Trump administration’s under-the-wire rules could end up hampering the Biden administration from aggressively tackling climate change and other issues right out of the gate.

“The last gasps of the administration,” said David J. Hayes, executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, “have the potential to either be a speed bump or a potential roadblock for the new administration coming in.” His group has launched the “Midnight Watch Project” to track the end-of-term efforts.

One of the first of the last-minute moves since Election Day is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Interior Department is set this week to ask oil and gas companies to choose where they want to drill in the untouched Alaskan wilderness. Should the Trump administration sell drilling rights within the refuge before Jan. 20, it may be very hard for Biden’s team to take back those leases.  

In 2017, Republicans in Congress opened nearly 1.6 million acres of caribou and polar bear habitat there to potential petroleum extraction. But it has taken until this year for the department to be ready to hold a sale on drilling rights.

Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)Caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)
 

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, told my colleague Juliet Eilperin that Trump’s team is “under a tight timeline.” But he added that the department is on legally solid footing: “Our view is that Congress has acted.”

Yet despite the 2017 law mandating a lease sale, Biden has promised to oppose drilling in the refuge, calling it “a big disaster to do that.”

When it’s all said and done, the Trump administration may finish a dozen significant actions before Biden’s inauguration.

In addition to potentially leasing within the Arctic refuge, officials aim to complete a plan to open up another vast area in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to drilling and to auction off extraction rights on more than 4,100 acres in central California on Dec. 10.

Interior may also formalize a more narrow definition of habitat for endangered species before Jan. 20. It could also further water down prohibitions on the incidental killing of migratory birds — a change long sought by some oil companies whose uncovered oil waste pits attract waterfowl.

At the Energy Department, officials may exempt some clothes washers and dryers from energy-efficiency requirements and change the definition of a showerhead to allow more water to flow before Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take office.

This last action reflects Trump’s pet peeve that his showerhead does not produce enough water when he shampoos his hair.

John Merrow looks at the deeply partisan divide in our country and thinks about ways that we can communicate with each other.

Three Big Questions:  1) How many of the nearly 73 million Americans who voted for President Donald J. Trump can be persuaded to support President Joe Biden? 2) How can we connect with them?  3) Can we fix our schools so they don’t keep turning out angry and disaffected graduates who eagerly support demagogues?

I suspect that the racists, the white nationalists, the misogynists, and other close-minded bigots who voted for Trump aren’t persuadable, nor are greedy, selfish voters who care only about their finances. 

But, as I see it, that leaves many millions of Trump voters who might be open to change. Let’s not scorn or mock them but rather try to understand their position.

To change the minds of adults who voted for Trump, we have to persuade them that their government works for them. Because actions speak louder than words, I think we need drastic action, a modern-day GI Bill that includes action on at least these four fronts:

Open the link to see what those “four fronts” are.

Do you agree?

The Trump voters in my family are beyond persuasion, but I agree with John that we must do a better job of arming everyone against racism, misogyny, and demagoguery. I once had a conversation with George Lakoff about how to persuade people. We spoke for two hours. He told me that liberals make rational appeals, and conservatives tell stories. The latter works better, he said. Not because they are true but because they persuade on an emotional level.

The Washington Monthy writes that Trump had an elaborate plan, dreamed up by one of his inner circle (Stephen Miller?) Jared Kushner?), to demand a halt to the counting on Election Day, knowing that the mail-in ballots would favor Biden. But then FOX News called Arizona for Biden, and his plan was foiled. He was furious and demanded that FOX retract its call, but it did not back down. He even attacked the person who heads FOX’s Decision Desk, but to no avail.

Donald Trump telegraphed his plan to steal the election in the days leading up to Nov. 3. He wanted to declare victory on election night, stop the counting mail-in votes he considered illegal, and, if necessary, send the election to the judiciary and eventually the Supreme Court. 

Implementing that strategy would require a public relations effort in which Trump made at least a plausible case that he had won re-election. Michigan and Wisconsin looked out of reach. So the president would need to maintain the illusion that he was winning the rest of his 2016 states to have any pathway to 270 electoral votes. The most vulnerable were Pennsylvania and Arizona. 

Republicans had ensured, via the courts, that Pennsylvania couldn’t begin counting mail-in ballots prior to November 3rd. So Trump was relying on an early lead in that state coming from those who had voted in person on Election Day. That made Arizona pivotal to the public relations campaign for Trump to claim victory. 

But at 11:20 pm on Tuesday, Fox News foiled the plan by calling Arizona for Biden. The Associated Press followed at 2:50 AM. Eventually, they were joined by NPR, “PBS NewsHour,” Univision, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. With Arizona gone, Trump would have no clear path to 270 electoral votes.

The Trump administration seems to have gone into hibernation since the election. The coronavirus is raging out of control, but the federal coronavirus task force is silent, with neither Trump nor its titular chair Mike Pence attending its meetings. Given the administration’s penchant for toxic actions, its inactivity may be a blessing, but in the case of student loan repayments, this is not the case.

The administration has thus far failed to address the repayment of student loans of 33 million Americans, which had been put on pause because of the pandemic. The freeze ends December 31, and no one in the administration has indicated whether the freeze will be extended or will end.

– “Trump’s student loan cliff threatens chaos for Biden,” by Michael Stratford: “At midnight on New Year’s Eve, President Donald Trump’s pause on student loan payments for 33 million Americans is set to expire, just three weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to take over.

“The Education Department started warning borrowers through text messages and emails this week that their monthly payments will resume in January. Even though Trump said this summer that he planned to later “extend” the freeze beyond Dec. 31, a White House spokesperson declined to comment on whether the president is still considering another executive action to move the expiration date.

“If Trump doesn’t act unilaterally and Congress doesn’t act to avert the cliff either, Biden could waive his own executive wand once inaugurated, though the president-elect’s campaign will not divulge his plans. The intervening weeks of limbo could cause mass confusion and uncertainty for borrowers. For the incoming president, the economic and administrative mess could take months to untangle, consuming the early days of his Education Department.”

Many parents look to the president of the United States as someone who is worthy of emulation. He (and someday she) is a role model. What Donald Trump is modeling right now is how to be a sore loser, how to throw a childish temper tantrum, how to undermine the democratic system of government founded on the consent of the governed.

We already have a convoluted democratic system, in which the will of the majority is overridden by the antique “electoral college.” The electoral college made Trump the president in 2016, even though Hillary Clinton won three million votes more than he did. In 2020, Trump lost the popular vote by five million, and Biden has unofficially won 306 electoral college votes, 36 more than is required to be called the winner. World leaders are congratulating Biden; Biden is moving forward, but Trump continues to whine that the election was “rigged” and that he is the actual winner.

The results of voting in the states have not yet been certified, and Trump is well within his rights to ask for recounts where the votes were very close. He has filed lawsuits in many states, and thus far none has been successful. All have been dismissed for lack of evidence of voter fraud or misdeeds of any kind. Based on past history, election experts say that the recounts are unlikely to change the results.

No one should object to recounts or serious lawsuits. Trump commits a grave error, however, in insisting that the election was “stolen” because he didn’t win. That’s the behavior of a toddler or a tyrant or both. It does a terrible disservice to the legitimacy of our democracy. Out of sheer spite, he hopes to undermine the Biden presidency in the eyes of his followers.

We have never seen anything like this in our lifetimes. We have never seen a president intent on destroying the Constitution and smearing the reputations of state election officials in every state that he did not win.

Politico reported this morning that Trump tweeted that Biden won, then withdrew the tweet and replaced it with another spurious claim of victory:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP offered JOE BIDEN a backhanded concession this morning, tweeting “He won” amid a series of complaints about the 2020 election. LESS THAN AN HOUR LATER, he took it all back. TRUMP tweeted: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN. … He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”

Toddler or tyrant?

As reported by CNN:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs promises to uphold Constitution, not follow a man. Gen. Mark Milley, the top American service member, made this encouraging statement during the opening of an Army museum Thursday.

“We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution. And every soldier that is represented in this museum, every sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman, each of us will protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price,” Milley said during remarks at the opening of the US Army’s museum.

I take this bold statement to mean that the military will not enable Trump to seize power with a military coup.


God bless our troops!

The Washington Post reports that Trump continues to proclaim that he will win, although he is 5 million votes behind Biden, and Biden has won the electoral college. The people around Trump are babying him, as they watch the lawsuits get tossed out of court. No one wants to tell him it’s over. In occasionally lucid moments, he talks about running in 2024, his aides say.

President Trump declared Wednesday on Twitter, “WE WILL WIN!”
But, in fact, the president has no clear endgame to actually win the election — and, in an indication he may be starting to come to terms with his loss, he is talking privately about running again in 2024.


Trump aides, advisers and allies said there is no grand strategy to reverse the election results, which show President-elect Joe Biden with a majority of electoral college votes, as well as a 5 million-vote lead in the national popular vote.


Asked about Trump’s ultimate plan, one senior administration official chuckled and said, “You’re giving everybody way too much credit right now.”


Republican officials have scrambled nationwide to produce evidence of widespread voter fraud that could bolster the Trump campaign’s legal challenges, but no such evidence has surfaced.

And Biden’s lead in several states targeted by the Trump campaign has expanded as late-counted votes are reported. In all-important Pennsylvania, the Democrat now leads by more than 50,000 votes.