Tuesday, November 10, 2020

How Trump and His Enablers Are Laying the Groundwork For a Coup d'état


Is Trump simply a sore loser throwing a tantrum when he claims that he won by a lot, and that mail-in ballots are massively fraudulent and so are the vote tabulations? Or are these   strategic moves?


 We always tend to under-estimate Trump. We did it in 2016. We're doing it again.


I’ve spent a couple of days connecting dots between what GOP-majority state legislators and other state actors are doing and saying, and what Trump, Giuliani, Graham, and Barr are doing and saying. It doesn’t appear random or uncoordinated. My best guess is that the mechanism they are mulling to negate Biden’s apparent win involves:  


A) Getting SCOTUS on record saying that only state legislatures, not state courts, have any say in not only how elections are run, but that only those legislatures can decide anything else, election-wise, such as when a completed vote has “failed,” and


B) With that ruling in hand, persuading (if they need persuading) a handful of GOP-led state legislatures to claim that the election for president in their states has "failed" and they must therefore select a new slate of electors.


The reason that this gambit seems at all plausible comes down to two pieces of law:


1) Article II, Section 1 of the  Constitution:


“Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors..."


2) A federal law, 3 U.S. Code § 2. Failure to make choice on prescribed day:


"Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct."


The above might look like conspiracy theory. But it's all happening now in plain sight.


AG Barr has told his prosecutors to seek out fraud, nationwide, even though there’s no evidence it’s happened. Trump has fired Defense Secretary Esper, who balked when Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act to call in the military against demonstrators earlier in the year (more about that later).


One case that looks trivial, even moot, ties everything together: several GOP states’ AGs, including those from Texas,  Louisiana, and Ohio,  have asked SCOTUS to immediately rule on whether the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority when it extended the deadline for acceptance of Pennsylvanians’ mailed ballots that are postmarked by election day. Those AGs want SCOTUS to rule that only legislatures can make that call.


 It seems trivial because the handful of votes would not change the outcome in Pennsylvania. But this isn’t about whether those votes are counted. It’s about Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution,  and 3 U.S. Code § 2, noted above.


Let’s say that SCOTUS agrees that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped, because only the state’s legislature has any business deciding the terms of the election. Let’s further assume that SCOTUS decides that nobody but the state’s legislature in any state can judge any other aspect of the election (a real stretch, but that seems to be what Giuliani, Barr, and the rest of the players are hoping).


In that event, if not just Pennsylvania’s GOP-majority legislature, but any GOP-majority state legislature, determines that its state’s vote has “failed” due to the massive vote and voting tabulation that Trump’s people are claiming, it gets to choose a new slate of  electors, as if the vote had never been held.


Those electors, hand-picked by the majority-GOP legislators, then decide for whom they should cast their states’ electoral votes. (Hint: it won’t be Joe Biden).


The above relies on so many if/then scenarios, it will probably fail before it gets very far. Trump still isn’t going to want to give up power.


So, back to the curious case of firing Secretary of Defense  Esper, rather than any of the others he’s threatened to fire. Esper proved squeamish about invoking The Insurrection Act and calling in the military when Trump wanted to do so against demonstrators in the DC streets. Esper isn’t the kind of guy Trump will want around on January 20, 2021, if he’s contemplated the need for a loyalist to defend against an “illegitimate” claim by someone he sees as a usurper, like Biden. He’ll want a loyalist who recognizes an insurrection when he sees one (even if it looks to the rest of the world like an inauguration), and is willing to do what it takes.


Anyone who has watched Trump for the past 4 years should recognize that while the above would sound hilariously implausible if we were considering any other president in living memory, we’re not talking about anyone else.


This is Trump.




The Election That Could Break America”

Barton Gellman



SNIPPET: >>In Pennsylvania, three Republican leaders told me they had already discussed the direct appointment of electors among themselves, and one said he had discussed it with Trump’s national campaign.

“I’ve mentioned it to them, and I hope they’re thinking about it too,” Lawrence Tabas, the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s chairman, told me. “I just don’t think this is the right time for me to be discussing those strategies and approaches, but [direct appointment of electors] is one of the options. It is one of the available legal options set forth in the Constitution.” He added that everyone’s preference is to get a swift and accurate count. “If the process, though, is flawed, and has significant flaws, our public may lose faith and confidence” in the election’s integrity.

Jake Corman, the state’s Senate majority leader, preferred to change the subject, emphasizing that he hoped a clean vote count would produce a final tally on Election Night. “The longer it goes on, the more opinions and the more theories and the more conspiracies [are] created,” he told me. If controversy persists as the safe-harbor date nears, he allowed, the legislature will have no choice but to appoint electors. “We don’t want to go down that road, but we understand where the law takes us, and we’ll follow the law.”<<


“Barr tells DOJ to probe election fraud claims if they exist”




SNIPPET: >>Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they exist, before the 2020 presidential election is certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud.

Barr’s action comes days after Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump and raises the prospect that Trump will use the Justice Department to try to challenge the outcome. It gives prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election is certified.<<

“Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn ruling that extended deadline for absentee ballots in Pennsylvania”



SNIPPET: >>In a Monday “friend of the court” filing, state attorneys said U.S. Supreme Court justices should overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, arguing “state legislatures, not state courts, set the rules for picking presidential electors.”<<


“Lawsuits pile up as Trump campaign alleges voter fraud in at least 5 states”



SNIPPET: >>Despite a lack of evidence, President Donald Trump and members of his legal team have made serious accusations of irregularities so sweeping that they could overturn the projections of Vice President Joe Biden as the winner. These claims come after months of the president telling his supporters that the only way he would lose "is massive fraud."

"The Biden selection by the Crooked Media is based on unlawful votes in PA, Mich, GA, Wisc, Nevada et al.," Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani wrote in a tweet that was flagged by Twitter. "We will prove it all." <<

“Trump 'Terminates' Secretary Of Defense Mark Esper”


SNIPPET: >>Trump had planned to fire Esper four months ago — after Esper opposed the president's move to send active duty troops to Washington, D.C.

Protesters were massing across from the White House, decrying the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Pentagon officials and others said police and National Guard troops could deal with any situation.

But Trump wanted to send a stronger message. So he ordered the deployment of active troops from bases in North Carolina and New York. Pentagon leaders made sure they stayed outside the city.<<



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