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the election

Refusing to Leave, Trump Schemes for Ways to Stay

They seemed like paranoia, the editorials and op-ed pieces that predicted Donald Trump would refuse to leave, ours as well, but his every move since Election Day has borne out the predictions. Even so, disbelief caused some to reassure "He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave”.

There's no sign of that. “If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Mr. Trump said from the White House briefing room two days after the
Twelve days after election, with Twitter annotating almost all his tweets

election. "If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us, if you count the votes that came in late”. The nation cringed and most television networks cut away, but Trump has continued ever since.


Some 20,000 came to Washington D.C. for the Trump March on November 14th.

Campaign lawyers have filed over 30 lawsuits over alleged irregularities in states where even a win in court would not overcome wide vote margins. All save one lost (poll observers in Philadelphia were allowed to stand closer to poll workers) . "He knows he's lost" came anonymous voices from inside the White House, but as he runs short on options, Trump has gone to the new and astonishing extreme of trying to block state election boards from certifying election results while simultaneously inducing legislators to overturn their people's vote for Biden and hand their state's Electoral College vote to Trump.

In a seditious attempt to subvert the election, Trump invited the two most senior Republicans in the Michigan state legislature to the White House assuredly to try to persuade them to choose the Trump slate of electors rather than Biden's for their meeting on December 14th when they will vote. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied there was anything untoward. The president “routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country”. State-level legislators? Not ever. Sydney Powell, Michael Flynn's lawyer, said on air to Lou Dobbs, "Well yes, Lou, the entire election, frankly, in the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump". One of the legislators told a Michigan news outlet that the idea the legislature would defy the voters is "not going to happen". If they did, it would be in defiance of that state's 160,000 vote margin for Biden.

The Trump camp is paying $1.5 million for a recount in Wisconsin, but only of two counties which, like the challenge they've made to Wayne County in Michigan which encompasses Detroit, are largely Black — that ethnic group for which Trump claims to have done more for than "possibly" Abraham Lincoln.

fraud — except in court

While occasionally joining the campaign's legal team at court, Rudy Giuliani's job (at a rumored $20,000 a day) is to work the public with salacious allegations of election rigging that never are heard inside a courtroom. Two weeks after Election Day, Mr. Giuliani staged a frenetic hour-and-45-minute press conference at Republican National Committee headquarters, hurling accusations of fraud involving such disparate villains as antifa, two presidents of Venezuela (one dead), Argentina, a web server in Germany, disgraceful American citizens who volunteer at polling places, two voting machine companies, and, of course, George Soros.

"There was a plan from a centralized place to execute these various acts of of voter fraud", was Giuliani's overarching message, a conclusion he came to because he found a pattern that "repeats itself in a number of states, almost exactly the same pattern". We were left to wonder where the place might be. Similarly, he held up sheaves of what he said were sworn affidavits, but refused to make them available for scrutiny.

In a remarkable turnabout at Fox News, reporter Kristin Fisher standing on the White House grounds began her comments with, "Well that was certainly a colorful news conference from Rudy Giuliani. But it was light on facts. So much of what he said was complete [sic] not true or has already been thrown out in court" and she called the "centralized" theory "a "bold and baseless claim".

Fraud is alleged by Giuliani and others of the Trump campaign when out in public, but not in court. Even Giuliani himself had to say, under oath in a Philadelphia court, "this is not a fraud case". For Trump's attorneys to lie about fraud in court without any evidence risks legal consequences. But out of court, the thin cases of "irregularities", mistakes, and so on become "fraud" because Donald Trump said for month s that there would be fraud.

Asked by a reporter whether the Trump campaign was investigating fraud in any of the states Trump won, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hastily non-answered and retreated into a waiting government car.

stop the count

In July, Mr. Trump began insisting that the winner be declared on election night. “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months, or even years later!”, he tweeted. Just as forecast, on Election Day he insisted the election was over that night, when in-person voting had him leading. Democrats, more mindful of Covid exposure, were expected to be heavier users of mailed ballots to be counted in the days after, which is why Trump tried to make them illegal. "STOP THE COUNT", he tweeted two days after the election. But don't stop in Arizona, where at that point he appeared to be ahead.

The most repeated claim, in Trump's tweets and from backers such as Lindsey Graham, was that observers were not allowed into counting rooms, easily refuted by those on site, as in Detroit where in answer to a complaint more than 200 GOP challengers were tallied inside TCF Center where votes were counted. Even at Fox News a reporter shot down allegations that GOP poll-watchers were being blocked in Philadelphia, saying on air, “That’s not true. That’s not true. That’s just not true.”

As Pennsylvania became the key battleground state, Democratic Philadelphia had become a target. But the GOP's own election leader called voter fraud claims "completely ridiculous", earning a blast from Trump on Twitter. Rudy Giuliani claimed that dead people had voted. City officials found no instance.

Attorneys general of about a dozen Republican states backed a suit before the Supreme Court that seeks to throw out mailed ballots in Pennsylvania that were received after Election Day, but they are too few to affect Biden's lead.

In Michigan, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit with almost 250 affidavits attached but the GOP's poll watchers reported no significant evidence of fraud.



The president claimed that software on machines made by Dominion Voting Systems deleted and switched 2.7 million Trump votes to Biden, again with no evidence. That arose and metastasized from an on-air comment by a writer at OAN, the arch-right news channel. The notion even drew a denial from a federal agency overseeing cybersecurity.

HAIL MARY

With court cases failing, it became a search for voter fraud as the GOP scrambled for something to invalidate some key states' vote. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick even offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could come up with instances of widespread fraud. The Trump campaign urged allies to speak out publicly to encourage people to report evidence or firsthand accounts of suspicious voter activity. Attorney General Barr issued a nationwide letter to all U.S. attorneys, to the Justice Department’s criminal division, and to the FBI director authorizing all to hunt for cases of fraud. Doing so before state counts are verified had never been done. A top Justice Department official objected and quit then and there.

SUBVERTING CERTIFICATION

With the cascade of law suits, they hope to cause irresolution enough in the courts to get in the way of states certifying election results by the "safe harbor" date of December 8th. That was the key date in 2000 when the Supreme Court called a halt to recounts in Florida and handed the presidency to George W. Bush. December 8th is not a deadline by law, but six days later the chosen electors in all the states must meet and cast their ballots for president and vice president. The states' governors then certify the electors’ votes.

Or so it is supposed to go unless Trump succeeds in persuading one or two Republican governors or state legislatures to overrule the majority vote for Biden in their state and submit a slate of Trump electors instead. The head of the Pennsylvania Republican Party mentioned this as one of his “options”. Nothing wrong with that, said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "I think everything should be on the table”.

Even the conservative National Review headlined that as "The Completely Insane Electoral College Strategy", calling it "a poisonous idea that stands out as radical and destructive". Wouldn't that be the same that Trump excoriates Democrats for doing — in his imagination ?

The target of the litigation, counter suits, delaying tactics to cause failure to certify, and suits to block states from certifying, has always been the Supreme Court, part of the reason for rushing Amy Coney Barrett through Senate confirmation to provide an insurance vote. He has mentioned repeatedly his belief that the election will wind up in the high court where he expects the majority of justices to side with him and declare him the winner. His three nominees — Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett — are to repay him for their lifetime appointments.

MAN UP? GUESS NOT

Trump's unparalleled narcissism makes losing intolerable. His pathology is so advanced that he needs to create his own narrative of events. He seems actually to believe his version in order to continue. This is a trait noticed early on. The version he is gradually adopting for self-consolation is that he won the election, but then it was stolen from him. Or that Biden won, but only because the election was rigged.

Being cast out of the presidency after all the work of a campaign has to be disappointing beyond the ordinary citizen's imagination. But all others in our lifetimes have handled it gracefully. Donald cannot. Breaking with yet another tradition, he has not conceded and probably never will. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said, "He'd rather burn the house down than turn over the keys to the new owner". Nor will he attend Biden's inauguration, Cohen predicts, because "he, himself, fundamentally cannot sit in a chair, knowing that the cameras are on him and that the world is looking at him as a loser". Cohen thinks the president might not even return to the White House from Mar-a-Lago after the holidays.



The Twitterati jumped on a tweet of Trump's that began, "He won", heralding it as the first instance of acknowledging his loss (the tweet continued, "because the election was rigged"). Trump was quick to come come back with "I concede nothing!".

blocking the transition

Far from conceding, Trump is doing everything to disrupt Joe Biden's transition. Outgoing presidents have been scrupulous about helping to prepare the incoming administration; it's for the good of the country and to show the world what a peaceful transition looks like in a democracy. Barack Obama was greatly impressed by the thorough job George Bush's administration did for his administration. Obama (and Biden) made certain to reciprocate in kind for Trump, who now lies that Obama did a terrible job as cover for his own shambles.

This president's ethics are bankrupt. Trump has refused to allow the General Services Administration to turn over funds for Biden's transition expenses and is in the process of wholesale firings to hollow out the government of experienced career public servants. The White House has commanded heads of all government agencies not to cooperate with Biden’s transition team. The agencies normally carve out space for the newcomers and make themselves available, having prepared extensive briefing books to teach the new teams how their departments work and where programs stand — a 440 page briefing book at USAID, for example. But that agency's acting deputy administrator, John Barsa, told personnel that Biden had not officially won the election and not to aid in the transition until his election is confirmed by the GSA.

The media tends not to mention that Trump's desperation may lie not so much in his psychological horror of losing than in his fear of what awaits when he no longer has the protection of the White House, where his Justice Department rules that a sitting president cannot be indicted. He may be safe from Joe Biden who signals that, like Obama before him, he wants to move forward and not litigate the past, but he also signals that he will restore an independent Justice Department free to decide cases to pursue on its own. Wary of that, Trump may try to engineer a pardon for himself for federal crimes (such as attempting to obstruct the Mueller investigation), but other indictments await in the civilian world. Together, these threats may be the driver of his manic attempt to overturn the election.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE

Mr. Trump has been extraordinarily successful in convincing a large segment of the public that his claim of a stolen election is true. He has sown distrust in the government, its institutions, the media, and now has done what may be irreparable damage to Americans' confidence in their electoral system. He has sold his followers on the belief that he brings them the truth and anything to the contrary is fake news. How many millions of the almost 74 million who voted for Trump think the incoming president has stolen the election? Hadn't Trump told them beginning months ago that “the only way we can lose…is if cheating goes on”? Doubting the democratic system became their truth. A poll says that 70% of Republicans accept Trump's disinformation about the election not being "free and fair" and even seem ready to discard democracy.

If you scroll Trump's Twitter account, as we do regularly, you will find that it teems with believers in fraud and "Stop the Steal". On the Saturday almost two weeks after the election, an estimated 20,000 Trump supporters came to Washington D.C. to protest that the election was stolen, with the president showing up in a motorcade to wave his thanks. It grew ugly when some 300 counter-protesters showed up and fistfights and bottle throwing began.

Fox News, where millions of Trump followers get their information, fell in behind Trump's claims, although with some exceptions. The night after the election, Laura Ingraham said Democrats were trying to

“destroy the integrity of our election process with this mail-in, day-of registration efforts, counting after the election is over, dumping batches of votes a day, two days, maybe even three days after an election”.

Voters postmarked by Election Day but clogged in the postal system should be disenfranchised in her view. Newt Gingrich, once speaker of the House, made an appearance, warning that,

“As they watch Joe Biden’s Democratic Party steal the election in Philadelphia, steal the election in Atlanta, steal the election in Milwaukee, …the greater the rage is going to be”.

Sean Hannity told viewers "we have serious reports of irregularities and fraud and not allowing vote counters to observe counting”. Sidney Powell alleged that Democrats “were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist”

, with no demand for proof coming from program host Maria Bartiromo. Tucker Carlson said,

"The outcome of the presidential election was seized from the hands of the voters, … and now resides in the control of lawyers, and courts, and highly partisan clearly corrupted city bureaucrats…Many Americans will never again accept the results of a presidential election."

Inversion is a common propaganda technique. It is, of course, the Trump camp that has put the election in the hands of the lawyers and the courts.

Shamefully few Republicans in Congress spoke out against the president's destructive lying. They know elections first hand, and as Connecticut's Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, "Every single one of my colleagues knows" that Trump lost the election. Yet, placing themselves before country, with only their next election in mind, they did not want to earn the wrath and desertion of the Trump "base". That was the case with Mitch McConnell, safely re-elected and doubtless Senate majority leader again, where he will do everything to thwart Biden's initiatives as he did with Obama. For him, there was nothing objectionable about Trump's torrent of lawsuits. "Perfectly OK to complain about a particular system if you don’t like it". Let the courts decide.

The irony is that, in drawing heavy attention to the process of how America votes, Trump inadvertently spurred election authorities across the land to run the smoothest, most trouble-free election in memory. The New York Times contacted the election commission heads in all 50 states to find that not one of them reported any fraud. States conduct elections. The federal government takes no part. Nevertheless and unbelievably, Trump took credit! "Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever…except for what the Democrats did. Rigged election!"



1 Comment for “Refusing to Leave, Trump Schemes for Ways to Stay”

  1. Very comprehensive summary and analysis of President Trump’s attempts to reverse the will of the people and justify his refusal to concede the election and ease the way for Biden’s transition as President-elect.

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