Make no mistake. The frantic and clumsy efforts of Donald Trump and his cultish acolytes in denying the reality that Joe Biden has won the presidency amount to nothing less than an undermining of American democracy, which — above all else — relies on the faith of the governed that they live under a fair and just system.
Capitol Hill’s spineless Republicans — maintaining their four-year “nothing to see here” negligence — know full well that the president has been defeated, yet they blabber on about how Trump is “100 percent within his rights” to delay a transition urgently in need of getting underway.
Even in normal times, an incoming president must be brought up to speed on sensitive national security issues the details of which only the White House inner circle is privy. Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are being denied the daily briefings they ought to be receiving — as did every one of their predecessors.
But these are not normal times. The nation is being savaged by a pandemic that Trump’s neglect allowed to spiral out of control, threatening perhaps another 100,000 deaths or so by Inauguration Day — on top of a quarter of a million lives already lost. Now that we have two promising vaccine candidates, the enormous job in front of us is distributing hundreds of millions of doses safely but also as quickly as possible. Keeping the incoming administration out of this loop is unconscionable — and, as Biden warned, will result in unnecessary additional deaths.
But let’s leave aside those Republicans whose heads remain in the sand and look to the real danger — those who are actively working to undo legitimate votes from among America’s biggest turnout to date. To argue that Trump or anyone else has the “right” to mount court challenges misses the point. The blizzard of suits filed by the Trump campaign and allied groups have been uniformly meritless and merely dilatory — as the repeated dismissals by state and federal judges have shown.
All the president’s men — and women — have rushed into court with vague charges lacking in real evidence but instead backed by hearsay, unfounded, often wild conspiracy theories, and several embarrassingly unvetted witnesses. Notably, in recent days, reputable attorneys from leading law firms have bailed on these cases, and late last week Trump decided to shift command of his legal strategy to none other than the hapless Rudy Giuliani, once dubbed “America’s mayor,” but now a ranting sycophant who for the past two years trolled the world trying to dig up or stage scandals — mostly about Hunter Biden, an effort that got Trump impeached — and is currently focused on hosting overwrought press conferences and trying the patience of judges with bizarre courtroom antics.
Even Giuliani — though he often seems crazy — must realize the lawsuits and explosive charges are meritless and have no chance of success. The key word about them is “dilatory” — and the flap this week over certifying the vote in Detroit’s Wayne County gave the game away. There, the two Republicans on the four-member Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify the vote, noting small clerical discrepancies — that occurred in both the city of Detroit and neighboring, mostly white suburbs. Tellingly, one of the Republicans proposed certifying the suburban vote, but not the city vote.
Before the two Republicans relented under a wave of outrage, Trump tweeted the development was “a beautiful thing.” But it was his campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis who said out loud what she probably should have kept to herself.
“If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator [sic] will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump,” she tweeted. In other words, GOP state legislators would, under that theory, ignore the vote of Michiganders and assign their 16 electors to Trump rather than Biden.
Trump folks talked about a similar nullification strategy for Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.
Beyond that sort of nonsense, there were other apparent efforts at strong-arming local officials — Republicans — into throwing out legitimate votes to overturn Biden wins, in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham — a slippery character who always manages to Velcro himself to a useful alpha protector, whether the late John McCain or now Trump (the transfer of loyalty from the former to the latter was particularly unseemly) — managed to overcome his affection for states’ rights and began phoning officials in other states to inquire about chances for his president to upset the original assignment of their electoral votes to Biden.
Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state already under fire from local GOP officials apparently for not making sure Trump won there, expressed shock to the Washington Post that Graham appeared to be suggesting he find a way to throw out legitimate Democratic votes.
Graham— who told Fox News this past weekend, “If Republicans don’t challenge and change the US election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again” — voiced shock… shock at Raffensperger’s characterization of their conversation. But Gabriel Sterling, a Raffensperger deputy, backed up his boss’ account of the call, which he also joined.
Graham also phoned Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, and a GOP official whose name he did not recall in Nevada, which has a Democratic governor.
The biggest abuse, however, came from the big guy himself. Last week, Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, issued a statement from a broad group of election overseers declaring the November vote “the most secure in American history.”
On November 17, Krebs was fired by Donald Trump via Twitter.
The efforts of Trump, Giuliani, and Graham are edging closer and closer to an attempted coup. They best keep in mind that even if inept and ultimately unsuccessful, such an effort could well amount to treason.
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