Trump enters the stage

Discussion of the recent unfolding of history.

Re: Trump enters the stage - Politically incorrect & UP

Postby Meno_ » Tue Nov 17, 2020 7:12 pm

UP_ wrote:Obama says he's 'troubled' GOP backs Trump refusal to concede

Donald Trump says Joe Biden 'won' election, then backtracks and says he won't concede

DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 34 minutes ago

The admission on Twitter was quickly followed up with a tweet doubling down that he was not actually conceding.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Sunday that Joe Biden won the presidential election, even as he repeated false claims that Democrats "rigged" the balloting and again refused to concede the race.

"He won because the Election was Rigged," Trump tweeted early Sunday, referring to Biden. His assertion about election malfeasance was at odds with a finding from a national coalition of election security officials, which concluded that the Nov. 3 general election was "the most secure in American history."

"There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," said a statement from the security group, which included the cybersecurity agency within Trump's own Department of Homeland Security, along with the National Association of State Election Directors.

Trump later tweeted of President-elect Biden: "he only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go."

Biden defeated Trump in a series of crucial battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidential race with room to spare.

He leads Trump in the popular vote by more than 5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points.

Will Trump remain the GOP kingmaker? Trump wants to run the Republican party even if he leaves office. Can he?

President Donald Trump waves to supporters from his motorcade as people gather for a march Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington.
Trump's campaign and its allies have filed lawsuits that aim to delay the certification of the results in some of the states that Biden won. But his team has offered no evidence of widespread fraud, and many of the lawsuits have been rejected by the courts.

Legal experts have said Trump's challenges are almost certain to fail.

Meanwhile, Trump has blocked federal resources for Biden's transition team and has refused to allow the president-elect access to high-level classified briefings. Incoming presidents typically have access to those assessments, so they can be prepared to deal with any national security threats on Day One.

Several GOP senators have urged Trump to allow the briefings.

Re-tweeting commentary from Fox News host Jesse Waters, Trump repeated false claims that Republican election observers not allowed to watch the vote count (they were). He again decried alleged media bias, and he revived a discredited claim that a company behind the vote tabulation in some states contributed to his loss to Biden.

More: Trump campaign's challenge of election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona push US toward 'loss of democracy'

MAGA supporters gather in DC: Tens of thousands rally in DC to support outgoing President Trump

Thousands of President Trump supporters joined together for the 'Million MAGA March'
Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday that Trump's refusal to concede was harmful to the country.

"Every day that he delays ... ultimately is to the country's disadvantage," Bolton said on ABC's "This Week."

As recently as last week, some of Trump's top aides were continuing to insist that the president won a second term, despite the results.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany answered a question about whether Trump would attend Biden's inauguration by saying that Trump will attend "his own inauguration."

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Trump won a second term, saying there would be a "smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Biden's aides welcomed Trump's seeming acknowledgement Sunday of the president-elect's win, but added that they want him to authorize the transition.

“I accept it as a further confirmation of the reality that Joe Biden won the election," said incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Trump aides said that he was mocking the idea of a Biden victory, and that he still expects to prevail after a series of lawsuits, recounts and election challenges.

"The president was referring to the mindset of the media," said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. "His goal remains to un-rig the election and continue exposing voting irregularities and unconstitutional election management by Democratic officials.”

© Copyright Gannett 2020




The New York Times
The Presidential Transition

Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracy Theories

The president’s refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information and access to the government.

President Trump waved to his supporters at a demonstration near the White House on Saturday. Pockets of violence broke out that night as they clashed with anti-Trump protesters.
President Trump waved to his supporters at a demonstration near the White House on Saturday. Pockets of violence broke out that night as they clashed with anti-Trump protesters.Credit...Kenny

Updated Nov. 16, 2020, 11:34 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s refusal to concede the election has entered a more dangerous phase as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system.

More than a week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Mr. Biden will soon oversee.

Some former top advisers to Mr. Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, called it “crazy” on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal “harms the country.”

“Every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Mr. Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday morning.

The president’s attempt to cling to power played out against a backdrop of protests by Trump supporters and opponents late Saturday, with sporadic clashes near the White House. The police arrested 21 people as one protester was stabbed and four officers were injured. Rather than seek to calm tensions, Mr. Trump lashed out.

“ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills,” he posted on Twitter on Saturday as he urged the police to move in aggressively. “DC Police, get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!”

By Sunday morning, the president seemed to briefly acknowledge defeat, but he quickly reversed himself, declaring “I concede NOTHING!” He repeated lies about the vote-counting process, falsely insisting that Mr. Biden’s victory was the result of a “RIGGED ELECTION” orchestrated by the “Fake & Silent” news media.

Facing his final 66 days in office, Mr. Trump appears unwilling to break from the gut instincts that have guided his pursuit of the presidency and his exercise of authority in the past five-and-a-half years: a fierce determination to act only in his self-interest and a near-total refusal to accept blame or responsibility for his failures.

As the total number of coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 11 million and deaths neared 250,000, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, warned that 200,000 more people could die by spring if Americans did not more fully embrace public health measures, even with an effective vaccine.

“We are not going to turn it on and off, going from where we are to completely normal,” Dr. Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, challenging Mr. Trump’s claims that the virus would go away quickly once a vaccine was ready. “It’s going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by, as we get well into 2021.”

Dr. Fauci said health officials had not begun working with Mr. Biden’s transition team. He also said the president had not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in “several months,” vanishing from participation in the panel.

But anyone hoping for a similarly quiet withdrawal from Mr. Trump as he leaves the presidency appears destined not to get it. He continues to deny facts and science in favor of baseless conspiracy theories and has moved aggressively to remove anyone he views as disloyal: a fact underscored by a purge of top officials at the Pentagon last week that was followed by an implicit rebuke by the military’s top general.

“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,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a speech on Wednesday. “We take an oath to the Constitution.”

The president’s desperate language as he tries without success to preserve his position stood in stark contrast with the disciplined silence from Mr. Biden, who spent Sunday morning at church services and later met behind closed doors with his transition advisers. Ron Klain, who will be Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a concession tweet from the president was not necessary.

“Donald Trump’s Twitter feed doesn’t make Joe Biden president or not president,” Mr. Klain said. “The American people did that.”

Before going to play golf at his club in Virginia for the second day in a row on Sunday, the president once again lashed out at the news media and Mr. Biden’s supporters, retweeting reports of a university professor who said that anyone who voted for the Democrat was “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian.” In his tweet, Mr. Trump called that “Progress!”

He also continued to attack the election results, calling a hand recount underway in Georgia, a state he narrowly lost, “a scam.” Despite the president’s assertions, the recount, which is being conducted at the direction of a Republican secretary of state, appeared to be going smoothly, as about 50 of Georgia’s 159 counties had completed their new counts.

As Mr. Trump arrived at the golf course, dueling signs showed the deep rift in the country that he has sought to exploit with false allegations of vote-counting fraud since Nov. 7, when Mr. Biden was declared the winner. The president’s supporters at the entrance waved “TRUMP 2020” and “KEEP AMERICA GREAT” messages while protesters held signs saying, “SURRENDER DONNIE.”

The nation’s divisions were on grim display in the capital on Saturday night, when pockets of violence broke out between people rallying on behalf of Mr. Trump’s desire to stay in office and anti-Trump demonstrators. After a day in which thousands of the president’s supporters gathered mostly peacefully in support of his false election assertions, the scene turned darker as night fell.

Counterprotesters, including some from a group calling themselves Refuse Fascism, confronted Trump supporters. One threw bottles and fireworks, a USA Today reporter said. People backing the president at one point ripped “Black Lives Matter” signs off a building before trampling them on the ground.

“You could feel the intensity,” said Damien Courtney, 24, a Trump supporter from Tennessee. “It was nerve-racking.”

The rally on Saturday also prompted Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, to wildly exaggerate the size of the pro-Trump crowd. In a tweet from her personal account, she claimed that “more than one MILLION marchers for President @realDonaldTrump descend on the swamp in support.” In fact, the authorities estimated it was far short of her claims, which echoed the falsehoods that Sean Spicer, the president’s first press secretary, told about the inaugural crowd four years ago.

Former President Barack Obama warned in an interview that aired Sunday night that Mr. Trump’s willingness to spread misinformation about the election was hurting the country’s ability to conduct the basic functions of democracy.

“It’s very hard for our democracy to function if we are operating on just completely different sets of facts,” Mr. Obama said on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “Any of us who attain an elected office — whether it’s dogcatcher or president — are servants of the people. It’s a temporary job. We’re not above the rules. We’re not above the law. That’s the essence of our democracy.”

Mr. Obama said he worried that many parts of what he called a “deeply divided” nation believed Mr. Trump’s falsehoods.

“The power of that alternative worldview that’s presented in the media that those voters consume, it carries a lot of weight,” Mr. Obama said.

Inside the West Wing, most of Mr. Trump’s top advisers have privately told him what is clear to everyone except his most loyal supporters and the Republican politicians who fear his wrath: His re-election bid has failed, and Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

A few Republicans have acknowledged that publicly. On Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas joined their ranks, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected that Mr. Biden would be the next president and should have access to intelligence briefings.

But publicly, Mr. Trump’s aides and virtually all Republican lawmakers continued to stand by — or at least not challenge — his false assertions about the election.

The president’s supporters argued with counterprotesters near the White House

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, has taken over the president’s legal fight to overturn the election results. In interviews on Sunday with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News, Mr. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, another member of the president’s legal team, floated false conspiracy theories that there was a sweeping effort to switch votes using specific software.

“President Trump won by not just hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes, that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose,” Ms. Powell insisted. “We have so much evidence, I feel like it’s coming in through a fire hose.”

In fact, Mr. Biden leads in the popular vote by more than 5.5 million votes, a total that has climbed as states have continued counting.

At another point, Ms. Powell claimed that the C.I.A. had ignored complaints about the software, “which makes me wonder how much the C.I.A. has used it for its own benefit in different places.” She then urged Mr. Trump to fire Gina Haspel, the agency’s director.

Asked by Ms. Bartiromo whether the president was conceding the race, Mr. Giuliani said: “No, no, no, far from it. What he’s saying is more, I guess you’d call it sarcastic.” He added that “obviously he’s contested it vigorously.”

The president’s tweets about whether Mr. Biden had won the election came as Mr. Trump continued to spread misinformation about the vote-counting process.

His first tweet on Sunday came at 7:47. Referring to Mr. Biden, the president said that “he won” and claimed again that “all of the mechanical ‘glitches’ that took place on election night were really THEM getting caught trying to steal votes.” Twitter quickly labeled almost all of Mr. Trump’s posts on Sunday morning as “disputed.”

After a flurry of tweets and news reports about his “concession,” Mr. Trump insisted that he had been misunderstood.

At 9:16, he insisted: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!”

The rapid flip-flop made clear that Mr. Trump was still refusing to abandon his false narrative about the vote being rigged and stolen that he has been spreading since Election Day, inflaming anger among his supporters about his defeat.

There was no indication that his tweet would immediately prompt the administrator of the General Services Administration to officially allow the Biden transition team to have access to the money and information they are due, which she has so far refused to do. Mr. Trump later retweeted a post by the administrator, Emily W. Murphy, on veteran-owned small businesses, adding, “Great job Emily!”

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Trump's latest election lawsuit is dead on arrival, legal experts...

'100 percent dead': Court ruling could torpedo some lawsuits challenging Trump's loss
KEVIN MCCOY | USA TODAY | 2 hours ago

The admission on Twitter was quickly followed up with a tweet doubling down that he was not actually conceding.
A federal appeals court ruling may have torpedoed several federal lawsuits that seek to overturn President Donald Trump’s all-but-certified defeat by former Vice President Joe Biden.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Friday that Pennsylvania voters and a congressional candidate could not use certain constitutional arguments to back their claims that some voters were disadvantaged by changes to election rules spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. Postal System delays.

On Monday, Trump supporters who used similar constitutional arguments in federal lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin voluntarily dismissed their claims.

The dismissals came in advance of Tuesday's scheduled oral arguments in a federal lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. On Sunday, attorneys for the campaign narrowed their legal arguments in that case to avoid running afoul of the appeals court ruling.

Although the revised complaint still argues 689,472 ballots were improperly processed and counted outside the view of Trump election watchers, it does not not seek legal relief specifically on that point.

Election workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center on November 06, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Election workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center on November 06, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Some election law and constitutional law experts predict that case, too, is in trouble.

“Trump’s legal path to overturn the election results appears 100 percent dead,” Richard Hasen, an election and campaign law expert at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law wrote on his Election Law Blog on Monday.

Even if the Trump campaign succeeded in its slimmed-down arguments in the case to be argued Tuesday, "it does not involve enough ballots to call Pennsylvania’s election results into question,” Hasen said in an email to USA TODAY.

Biden led Trump by 67,353 votes in Pennsylvania as of Monday, according to Associated Press tallies.

The Trump campaign's lawsuit seeks to delay Pennsylvania from certifying its election results. It asks the court to bar certification of results that include absentee and mail ballots that it claims were improperly "cured" of mistakes made by voters, without adequate oversight by Trump campaign monitors. It couldn't be immediately determined how many ballots are in question.

From the beginning, legal experts said the case had no chance of success. Courts are reluctant to invalidate ballots cast by voters who relied on instructions from election boards, they said, and mail balloting is constitutional and common.

Analysis: Nine legal experts say Trump's lawsuit challenging election results in Pennsylvania is dead on arrival

The Trump campaign’s arguments center on the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which requires “equal protection of the laws” for citizens. The pared-down complaint retains an argument based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore ruling that decided the 2000 presidential election.

Appeals court: Bush v. Gore ruling was limited to the 2000 election
The case that went before the appeals court was filed by Republican congressional candidate Jim Bognet and voters who alleged Pennsylvania's three-day extension for mail and absentee ballots improperly allowed county election boards to accept ballots "that would otherwise be unlawful."

What history has shown us about contested elections and peaceful transitions of power.
An appeals court panel denied some of that suit's constitutional arguments. The court said it did not review the Bush v. Gore decision in evaluating plaintiffs' equal protection arguments because the Supreme Court said in that ruling it was “limited to the present circumstances” of that case.

“That is a bad sign” for the Pennsylvania case set for arguments on Tuesday, said Kermit Roosevelt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in an email.

That case and others are among an explosion of election-related legal challenges that even before Election Day had topped the number of similar federal lawsuits filed during the three prior presidential elections, a USA TODAY analysis found.

Trump's election challenges haven't gone far
Trump’s efforts to challenge election results, partly based on allegations of ineligible votes and inadequate observer access to ballot counting, have largely failed. In Pennsylvania alone, Trump supporters have filed at least 15 legal challenges in an effort to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Judges in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Nevada, however, have quickly dispatched some of them. A few have been appealed.

On Friday, Pennsylvania courts dismissed six Trump campaign lawsuits that argued nearly 9,000 absentee ballots should be disqualified for violations of state election code requirements.

With the U.S. Capitol in the background, supporters of President Donald Trump rally in Washington.

Rival appeal petitions were filed over the weekend in those cases.

The four federal lawsuits voluntarily dismissed by voter plaintiffs on Monday in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin were linked to the law firm of conservative attorney James Bopp Jr. He is a legal consultant for Trump’s 2020 presidential election campaign.

The cases focused on alleged violations of the equal protection clause, as well as constitutional directives on elections and presidential electors. Each of the cases challenged election officials' inclusion of "illegal presidential elector results in certain counties."

Trump campaign alleged "two-tiered voting system in Pennsylvania
The Trump campaign’s case set for arguments on Tuesday initially alleged that Pennsylvania used an “illegal, two-tiered voting system” — in-person and mail ballots. It argued that ballots cast in person were devalued because of the extended deadline and a lack of oversight for mail and absentee ballots.

But after Friday’s appeals court ruling in the other case, Trump campaign lawyers scrapped most of the references to a "two-tiered" voting system, as well as constitutional arguments based on issues other than the equal protection clause.

The amended complaint alleges that Pennsylvania election officials in areas with heavy Democratic Party enrollment improperly enabled mail voters who had made technical mistakes on their ballots to “cure” the errors. Election officials in other areas of the state followed the law by not providing such assistance, the lawsuit charged.

A Phila. city commissioner says the 'highest ethical standards' were followed during the election and subsequent canvassing. Omar Sabir says he understands the Trump campaign filing lawsuits but feels 'America really needs healing" going forward. (Nov. 10)


When the ballots were being counted, election officials in Democratic-majority areas “intentionally denied the Trump Campaign access to unobstructed observation ... denying plaintiffs and the residents of Pennsylvania the equal protection of the law.”

Late Monday, the Trump campaign's lawyers in the case were granted permission by the court to withdraw. They were the second set of lawyers to depart.

The campaign is now being represented by the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, law firm of Marc Scaringi, whose biography on the firm's website says he once worked as a part-time radio talk show host.

The Trump campaign asked U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann to delay Tuesday's hearing. Brann denied the motion.

© Copyright Gannett 2020
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Re: Trump enters the stage - What the....

Postby Meno_ » Fri Nov 20, 2020 9:20 am

Don't ignore Trump's election mischief. Take it seriously

Updated 1:13 AM EST, Fri November 20, 2020
article video

(CNN)Until either President Donald Trump admits defeat and calls off his minions or the GOP admits his defeat and acknowledges that Joe Biden is the President-elect, you've still got to hold your breath a little bit.

That's the truth, even though last desperate gasps of the Trump era increasingly bear one striking similarity to its origin: it all seems like a hopeless joke.

When the reality star descended his golden escalator at Trump Tower way back in 2015, his shock brand of race-baiting populism seemed like a futile attempt to make himself relevant and kickstart a flagging media career. The idea that he had a shot at becoming President of the United States seemed laughable.

But, dismissed by the media and ridiculed by fellow Republicans, Trump found a way to hopscotch from conspiracy theory to conspiracy theory all the way to the White House. And then nobody was laughing any more.

Now, it's Trump remaining in office that seems impossible. Trump was clearly rejected by voters at the polls -- nearly 6 million more people chose Biden -- and his legal challenges in multiple states have all faltered.

But those lawsuits have had a very real effect, sowing or solidifying doubts in the minds of his supporters about the election results. Now, Republican officials in Michigan are buying into Trump's alternate reality and want to rescind their certification of election results in Detroit. He's apparently invited lawmakers from the state to the White House Friday.

And Rudy Giuliani is still ginning things up. On Thursday afternoon, Giuliani, hair dye dripping down his face, gave a wild press conference where he alleged a massive multi-state conspiracy to steal the election from the President. As evidence, he pointed to votes in Philadelphia, a barely concealed mimic of the Detroit complaint and a clear effort to disenfranchise voters in cities with large Black populations.

Here's a fact check of Giuliani.

"That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're lucky," said Chris Krebs, the DHS election security official recently fired by Trump, in a tweet.

The multi-pronged conspiracy is not millions more voters choosing Biden. It's the expanding effort to overturn results in at least three states and undo a solid electoral defeat. It would be sad and funny if it weren't quite literally about ignoring the voters to keep Trump in power.

And so it's extremely distressing that Trump is on the phone with Republican officials who now say they want to rescind their certification of votes in Wayne County, which covers Detroit -- a step that is normally just a technicality.

It's also aggravating that a mid-level political appointee, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, won't take the next step -- another technicality, "ascertainment" -- needed to let Biden's transition begin.

Anxiety is starting to rise in unexpected places. JP Morgan, for instance, is laying out the nightmare scenario for investors. As CNN's Matt Egan wrote:

Much of Wall Street views the Trump campaign's efforts to overturn the election results as a desperate sideshow destined to fail. But JPMorgan is telling clients there's still a chance that this process descends into chaos. It is 2020, after all.

Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management, warned in a report Wednesday of the "remote risk of an American horror story" and "constitutional mayhem."

: Trust the votes
It was not that long ago that Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney was leading the GOP. Now he's "shunned" by some, as he told David Axelrod in an Axe Files podcast released Thursday.

Most people seized on Romney's comments about the consequences of Trump's potential actions as a lame duck President.

Mistrust of democracy. But I heard Romney say something else that completely hits the mark:

"Both here and around the world we are seeing a reduction in the confidence people have in voting," Romney said.

"And if people don't believe in voting, and don't have confidence in voting, how can you have democracy, because democracy is fundamentally based on people voting."

"And if the United State of America doesn't believe that we have voting that's reliable, why, how can you expect a country that's just becoming a democracy to adopt this practice and use it as a basis for determining its future."

The counterargument to this is that the 2020 election, despite Trump's silly allegations of rigging, drew a record number of voters. For now, at least, voters are voting. And that's a good thing. Georgia's hand recount of its election reaffirmed Biden's victory over Trump and found no widespread voter fraud -- just like we thought it would.

Paralyzed Senate. He also described how the Senate, which is necessary to pass any major legislation, votes on very little major legislation.

"Over the years the Senate has moved and moved to a point where I think there's a reluctance to vote on things that might be bad votes for members of the majority's party," Romney said.

"As a result we don't vote on much. Not either up or down, things we agree with, but if it's bad for Senator X, Y or Z, why then we don't want to take that vote. We vote very rarely on matters of substance. Just as a particular, I think in the two years I've been in the Senate, we haven't had a single vote on a matter related to health care, immigration, tax policy, climate change, the list goes on."

: Where schools are closed but restaurants are open
As more people around the country deal with new restrictions on schooling and movement, Greg Krieg writes about the special situation in New York City, where schools were shut after school ended Wednesday -- so suddenly that kids left their textbooks in class. Some excerpts from Krieg:

Poor delivery. It is a demoralizing setback for a city that slowly re-opened after seeing more than 30,000 pandemic deaths and now faces a deadly winter surge of new Covid-19 infections. The news was delivered to principals by the city's schools chancellor at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, after hours of uncertainty, and set off a scramble among parents juggling child care needs and work responsibilities.


Conflicting standards. Part of the public confusion -- and private differences -- centered on how the city and state measure coronavirus test positivity rates. Some nine months into the pandemic, they are still employing different metrics to settle some of the most pressing issues facing New Yorkers.


Bars and gyms stay open! Frustration over the process and timing of the shutdown bubbled over almost immediately after the mayor, following hours of uncertainty, tweeted out his decision. That anger was compounded by the fact that city restaurants, bars and gyms -- the places most experts say the virus is most apt to spread -- remain open at limited capacities in accordance with guidelines set by the state.

: Now, reconsider Thanksgiving plans
The CDC has updated its guidance and now says you should really consider not traveling for Thanksgiving.

"The reason that we made the update is that the fact that over the week we've seen over a million new cases in the country," Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, the CDC's lead for Community Intervention and Critical Population Task Force, said during the briefing.

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Re: Trump enters the stage - Mental illness?"

Postby Meno_ » Fri Nov 20, 2020 6:01 pm

Trump endgame risks national security: Schiff
Trump history and behavior suggest destructive mental processes that put America at risk
Trump is not just a childish man having a tantrum or a selfish man who can't accept defeat. His actions are dangerous to America's health and security.

One of us is a psychiatrist, the other a political scientist. We have watched the fiasco since the election with mounting trepidation, from two very different perspectives. But we have a common bond: For more than a decade, each of us has worked to advocate for people with serious mental illness to get treatment. We are coming together now to advocate for immediate intervention for our president.

Since President Donald Trump’s election, the psychiatric community has debated calling out his illness(es). The American Psychiatric Association says we should remain silent out of fear that we would violate the Goldwater Rule — an APA rule adopted largely to prevent the partisan misuse of psychiatric diagnoses to unduly influence an election. But it is clear what many psychiatrists know privately, and a few have said publicly. The threat to our democracy is too great to remain silent.

Not just tantrums or selfishness
It may be no surprise that Trump railed against a 2020 election process that promised a major increase in turnout through early voting and voting by mail. He and many Republicans have advocated for ways to suppress votes, and suggested repeatedly that when everybody votes, Republicans lose. Remember, Trump had said before the 2016 election that if he lost, it was rigged; if he won, it was fair.

It also may be no surprise that Trump denied the outcome of the 2020 election in the days that followed it, despite the fact that President-elect Joe Biden’s margins in battlegrounds Michigan and Pennsylvania were larger than Trump's four years ago and he flipped Arizona and Georgia to the Democratic column. And it is true that there is neither a legal nor constitutional requirement for a presidential candidate to concede when he has lost.

But Trump's behavior since is antithetical to every norm we have in a democracy that values as much as anything the legitimacy of elections and the peaceful and orderly transfer of power after voters have spoken.

Trump supporter Tara Immen of Happy Valley, Ariz., protests at the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix on Nov. 18, 2020.
The president’s actions — ordering his minions to deny all the elements of a transition to the president-elect, including access to intelligence and pandemic briefings, access to agencies to plan the next administration, access to the FBI to begin security clearances for incoming appointees — are not just wrongheaded, they are dangerous to the security and health of the American people.

Biden's top unification task:Expose every ounce of Trump team wrongdoing, restore trust in government

The president’s moves to fire key officials, including those in charge of the safety of our nuclear stockpile and those in charge of our national security, suggest that the loyalty test — loyalty to the president and not to the Constitution — is going to be applied more often, hollowing out our pandemic teams and intelligence and defense capabilities, and leaving in charge a group of sycophants willing to do his bidding in his remaining weeks in office. The fact that he has not attended a meeting on the pandemic in months and has barely mentioned it as it explodes across the country is another sign of alarm.

Many say that Trump's refusal to agree to a peaceful and orderly concession is just a threat from a selfish man who can’t accept defeat. President-elect Biden calls Trump’s failure to concede an “embarrassment.” It is worse. When someone says they are planning their suicide, mental health professionals don’t call it a “cry for attention.” They hospitalize them immediately to prevent harm. When someone threatens homicide, violence or child abuse, we act swiftly to protect potential victims. It is naïve to consider the current acts of President Trump as childish tantrums and nothing more than fodder for late night comedians.

Signs of personality or mood disorder
To any first-year psychiatric resident, Trump’s sleepless nights filled with ranting tweets suggest irrational exuberance and lack of control, possibly a sign of a mood disorder called hypomania. His life-long history of disregard for others and deceit, if correct as reported, are characteristic of a personality disorder on the narcissistic and even sociopathic spectrum.

To be sure, definitive psychiatric diagnoses cannot be made without an in-person examination And certainly, psychiatric diagnoses themselves don’t make someone unfit to be president. But President Trump’s particular history and actions create a high index of suspicion for destructive mental processes which are putting the country and its safety and security in jeopardy.

Norman Ornstein: Donald Trump has lost to Joe Biden, what's next? The presidential transition from hell.

If we had a functioning Republican Party, this would be the time either to pressure the president to resign early and let Vice President Mike Pence handle the remainder of the term (with the promise of a pardon to sweeten the deal) or to invoke the 25th Amendment. At minimum, we would hope that key figures, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and other senior officials, would act to embrace the reality of the election outcome and put constraints on Trump to stop destructive acts. Instead, they are enabling his worst instincts and behaviors.

But it is important to at least call it out for what it is. Whatever President Trump does leading up to Jan. 20 — whether it is reckless actions abroad or lawless and destructive acts of commission or omission at home — it should be clear that these are not normal nor acceptable actions by an American president.

Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg is a psychiatrist affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical Center. His award-winning 2019 documentary "Bedlam" chronicles the roots of the broken mental health system in America and was shown on PBS' Independent Lens. Norman Ornstein (@normornstein) is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His family foundation spearheaded "The Definition of Insanity," a 2020 PBS documentary on the criminal justice system and how it deals with those with serious mental illness.

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Re: Trump enters the stage - Will to power or power to will

Postby Meno_ » Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:56 pm

If the Democrats cheated, that could be a sign of people, perceived by others or. themselves, as being so repressed and fractionally redirected, that in view of their rational conduct - they can justify any side's method of proof

For the common good, all actions, even illegal ones have a method by which truth and falsity can intertwine hidden repressive intentions

The said thing is, at this point, both sides evolve a mutually extreme positions, simulating the biblical anachronism of eye for an eye.

They are on this lookout for idols, victims, or anyone who can model the idea, the idea that can counter some onset of symbolic reversal, with teeth in it- to mimic legitimate processes of interaction on very basic levels

Propaganda becomes the only means to achieve this

The charge, that at this level, the perceptions of victims, of testaments and judges , and those pervy to evidential proof, witnesses who can be bought for a price. ; begin to exhibit the meaner aspects of the dueling ideas of the basic premises

When will. debate achieve a set goal to overcome any and all competitive form of argument, including it's own negative and absolute debunking , while this other way around, anything goes attitudes , when the adjudicants who can not fairly power the will , that the socially left behind , can represent.

This appearance of the nasty underbelly of political reality , always existing in an essentially divided binary form , have never
risen to the critical point to which , has previous to today,in recent modern political history. The whole process has underrated the quantum rate of change activated by post modern sentiment.

The structural stability of Democratic Capitalism has come under siege.
Do participants possess the will to acquire the power to sustain the Constitution foundation of the Bill of Rights, or does preemptive power has demolished the effort to understand the content of the power which has voided all possibility to connect with it's own ground.

Mere circle jerk coiling of a snakepit of rhetoric, has been completely been argued it's self into the pit.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>> >> >>

"Federal judge dismisses Trump campaign Pennsylvania lawsuit
By Katelyn Polantz and Kevin Bohn, CNN
Updated 9:40 PM EST, Sat November 21, 2020
article video

(CNN)A federal judge dealt a death blow to the Trump campaign's effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win of the presidency on Saturday, by dismissing a closely watched lawsuit that sought to invalidate millions of Pennsylvania votes.

"It is not in the power of this Court to violate the Constitution," Judge Matthew Brann of the US District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania wrote on Saturday in a withering decision, hours after the final round of filings in the case came in. The judge wholeheartedly rejected the Trump campaign's attempt to throw out the Pennsylvania vote, noting that Biden has won the state and results will be certified by state officials on Monday. Biden has a margin of more than 81,000 votes in the state.

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more," the judge wrote. "At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which relief may be granted."

Though the case was always extremely unlikely to succeed, President Donald Trump's backers and legal team -- and particularly his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani -- had pinned their hopes on the federal judge in Pennsylvania giving some credibility to their suspicions of fraud and entertaining Trump's attempt to overturn the popular vote for Biden.

But Brann, a longtime and well-known Republican in Pennsylvania, refused.

Shortly after the decision came down, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania congratulated Biden as the President-elect, breaking from party leaders and a vast majority of congressional Republicans who continue to back Trump's efforts to challenge the results.

READ: Judge's order dismissing Trump campaign Pennsylvania lawsuit
This was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump's favor, and Brann's decision on Saturday is at least the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court for Republicans, about very small numbers of votes.

"Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated," Brann wrote Saturday.

In the case, Trump's legal team led by Giuliani had attempted to claim that the Equal Protection rights of two Pennsylvania voters were violated because the state had allowed counties to decide whether absentee ballots sent in with technical problems could be fixed by the voters. The two voters in the lawsuit said that in their counties, they were not allowed to "cure" their ballots, and thus had their ballots rejected, while other counties, like heavily Democratic Philadelphia County, allowed voters to "cure" absentee ballots. That discrepancy, they claimed, meant that Pennsylvania's election results in their entirety should be blocked by court order, which theoretically, could deprive Biden of the state's 20 Electoral College votes.

Brann called the legal reasoning behind the Trump campaign's Equal Protection claim "Frankenstein's Monster."

"The answer to invalidated ballots is not to invalidate millions more," Brann wrote.

Brann also admonished the Trump campaign for presenting no factual proof of voter fraud or other allegations -- evidence that Giuliani and Trump's supporters have repeatedly said is in the works but has never materialized. Elections officials in multiple states as well as judges have said there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Giuliani, who had swept into the case at the last minute ahead of a hearing on Tuesday before Brann, has been widely criticized for ignoring legal reasoning, leading a team that's made sloppy mistakes in its filings, and for pushing nonsensical and unfounded claims of conspiracy against Trump in Democratic-leaning cities.

"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens. That has not happened," Brann added. "Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence."

The counties in the state are scheduled to certify their election results on Monday.

The judge said any further consideration of this issue "would unduly delay resolution of the issues" regarding certification, and he closed the case. His order on Saturday notes that the Trump campaign cannot try to resurface their claims in a rejiggered version of the lawsuit.

The Trump campaign on Saturday night said they would appeal Brann's ruling, and quickly, with the intention of taking the case to the US Supreme Court.

What to know about Monday's Michigan State Board meeting to certify election results
Toomey emerged as a rare Republican voice so far acknowledging Trump's legal avenues have come to an end.

"With today's decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign's lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," the GOP senator said in a statement.

"These developments, together with the outcomes in the rest of the nation, confirm that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will become the 46th President of the United States."

Mike Gwin, a spokesperson for Biden, praised the decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

"The judge's ruling couldn't be clearer: our people, laws, and institutions demand more — and our country will not tolerate Trump's attempt to reverse the results of an election that he decisively lost," Gwin said in a statement.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro also praised the decision in a statement Saturday night. "These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one. The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end," he said.

View on CNN
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Trump calls on GOP state legislatures to overturn election results
The president’s comment comes after a series of legal defeats, and with his options dwindling.

President Donald Trump listens during an event on Operation Warp Speed on Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House.
President Donald Trump. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

President Donald Trump made explicit Saturday the strategy his legal team has been hinting at for days: He wants Republican-led legislatures to overturn election results in states that Joe Biden won.

"Why is Joe Biden so quickly forming a Cabinet when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, enough to “flip” at least four States, which in turn is more than enough to win the Election?" Trump said, despite refusing to produce any such evidence either publicly or in court cases filed by his attorneys.

"Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself," Trump said.

Trump's comment came after a string of legal defeats, including a rejection by a federal judge in Pennsylvania Saturday who said the Trump team presented no evidence of election fraud or misconduct, despite seeking to invalidate millions of votes. Trump's lead lawyer in the case, Rudy Giuliani, said he intends to appeal the case to the Third Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

But with few cases pending in courts, Trump's options have narrowed and he is becoming increasingly reliant on longshot scenarios where election results are not certified and Republican-controlled statehouses in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia intervene to declare him the winner.

GOP legislative leaders in those states have not endorsed this approach. Trump summoned Michigan legislative leaders to the White House on Friday, but they later issued a statement indicating they had not seen any reason to intervene on Trump's behalf.

To succeed, Trump's plan would require several unprecedented legal steps. First, Republican-led legislatures in states Biden won would need to move to overturn their state's popular vote and appoint a slate of Trump electors when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, such maneuvers would be certain to meet vetoes from Democratic governors, so the lawmakers would also need to secure a legal determination that they hold the sole power to appoint electors — a disputed legal premise that has never been tested.

Trump's call for lawmakers to hand him the election is the most overt call he's made yet for state lawmakers to overturn the election results. But it also underscores his dwindling options: Michigan is due to certify its vote totals on Monday, as are Pennsylvania counties, which would hand the statewide certification duty to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. On Friday, Georgia certified Biden’s victory.

As of Friday evening, Pennsylvania's GOP leaders said they had not received an invitation to meet Trump at the White House, but last month, they said they would not step in to alter the election results.


<<<<<<<<<<< >>>><<<<< >>>>>>>><><<>> <<<<<


Chris Christie tells Trump to end election lawsuits, calls his legal team 'national embarrassment'

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday that the president should end his legal fights challenging the results of the election and concede to president-elect Joe Biden.
"You have an obligation to present the evidence, the evidence has not been presented," Christe said.
Christie described Trump's legal team as a "national embarrassment" and Powell's explosive claims as "outrageous conduct."
Trump has alleged that the U.S. presidential election was riddled with "massive improprieties and fraud" and has therefore rejected the results.
GP: Donald Trump Chris Christie
US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) after he delivered remarks on combatting drug demand and the opioid crisis on October 26, 2017 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's confidant former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday that the president should end his legal fights challenging the results of the election and concede to president-elect Joe Biden.

"Listen, I've been a supporter of the president, I voted for him twice but elections have consequences and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn't happen," Christie explained on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"They allege fraud outside of the courtroom but when they go inside the courtroom they don't plead fraud and they don't argue fraud," Christie said, adding "you have an obligation to present the evidence, the evidence has not been presented."

Trump has alleged that the U.S. presidential election was riddled with "massive improprieties and fraud" and has therefore rejected the results. Other top administration officials, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have publicly insisted that the election is not over. The Trump campaign continues to question the integrity of the election through a series of legal actions across battleground states.

On Saturday a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit by Trump's campaign that sought to block that state's certification of millions of votes. The judge's decision is another brick in the crumbling edifice that is Trump's already long-shot bid to invalidate enough ballots in enough states to reverse Biden's victory in the election.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a statement that the judge's ruling confirms "Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will become the 46th President of the United States."

"I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory. They are both dedicated public servants and I will be praying for them and for our country," Toomey added.

The Trump campaign and its allies now have lost or withdrawn more than 30 lawsuits that were part of that effort.

Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell listed a slew of allegations of fraud during an interview on Newsmax TV on Saturday. Powell alleged that Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp may have been involved in kickbacks to public officials but gave no details.

"Sidney Powell accusing Governor Brian Kemp of a crime on television yet being on unwilling to go on TV and defend and lay out the evidence that she supposedly has" is "outrageous conduct," Christie said.

The former governor and federal prosecutor slammed Trump's legal team as a "national embarrassment."

Trump vaccine chief has had ‘no contact’ with Biden transition team

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Re: Trump enters the stage - Trump resign? Nah!

Postby Meno_ » Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:27 am

Here's one way to get Trump to resign

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah

(CNN)Donald Trump seems to have spent most of the year working on his reelection rather than the duties of the presidency. Now that he has lost, it appears he has really checked out.

On Saturday morning, Trump joined an online meeting of G20 leaders at 8 a.m. ET to discuss Covid-19 and other issues of concern. How did Trump approach this vitally important conference? He began tweeting about 13 minutes into the opening session, spewing more baseless claims about voter fraud in an effort to overturn the 2020 election. And by 10 a.m. Trump departed to go play golf, skipping a special side conference that was focused on the coronavirus crisis that's exploding in many countries -- including our own.

Beyond Trump's non-stop efforts to erode US democracy with lies about voter fraud, the dangerous blocking of the start of President-elect Joe Biden's transition until the General Services Administration makes a determination that he won the election means the incoming administration can't start the process of working with all of the federal agencies, including the Covid-19 vaccine team, to prepare for battling this deadly virus and putting in place a vaccine distribution plan. As Biden recently warned about Trump's actions, "More people may die if we don't coordinate."

Appealing to Trump to do the right thing for the good of Americans is a fool's errand. Trump only cares about Trump. We need to make his incentive something that benefits Trump personally. So here's an offer to Trump: Resign today and American taxpayers will cover the cost of unlimited golf between now and January 20, the day Biden is sworn in -- or "Freedom from Trump day," as I refer to it.

What Trump is doing should worry us all
What Trump is doing should worry us all
Yes, I know, many of you are saying, "Don't we already pay for Trump's golf?!" Fair point. Exact numbers are hard to confirm, but given that it can cost millions every time the President takes a trip -- and that Trump had already spent 266 days during his Presidency at a Trump golf course by May of 2020 -- it's clear that Trump's love of golf has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars for the federally-funded security and transport needed to get him to his favorite courses. After all, Trump doesn't just golf in the United States -- he likes to play in places like his resorts in Scotland and Ireland too.

I hope Trump takes a moment from tweeting unfounded conspiracy theories to check out Golf Digest's top 100 golf courses outside the US. (In reality, I'm betting Trump has read Golf Digest more than his daily intelligence briefings.) There, Trump will be treated to an eye-popping buffet of magnificent golf courses that he can visit at our expense while we wait for Biden's inauguration.

Trump could begin at the top-rated golf course in the world, Royal County Down Golf club located in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. This course, founded in 1889, is located between Dundrum Bay to the east and Mountains of Mourne to the south and is famous for its "gorse-covered dunes in golden bloom." As Golf Digest notes, "There is no lovelier place in golf."

From there, Trump could jet over to New Zealand to play the world's second-highest-rated golf course, Tara Iti golf club. For golfers, this must be the eighth wonder of the world, with a course that took two years of "gently re-sculpting the sandy soil into hummocks, punchbowls and sand dunes that look like they were formed by wind and vegetated by nature." It's breathtaking -- and it could be Trump's at no cost to him if he simply signs that resignation paper. (Of course, he might have to wait until New Zealand lifts its coronavirus travel ban -- but perhaps if he books now he can get a credit for later.)

Judge&apos;s devastating question for team Trump
Judge's devastating question for team Trump
But wait, there's more. Trump could then skip over to South Korea to play the ninth-ranked golf course in the world, South Cape Owners club, located on the picturesque Namhae Island. This course not only features a view of the ocean from every tee, but it could also feature a very special golfing partner. That's right: the man Trump exchanged "love letters" with, the one and only dictator of North Korea: Kim Jong Un. Trump already asked Kim to play golf in their February 2019 summit, as noted in Bob Woodward's recent book, "Rage." In fact, Trump said to Kim, "Let's go play a round of golf" and "Let's go to a movie together." Well, now they can do both, and we US taxpayers will foot the bill if Trump accepts our offer.

Trump is the "Art of the Deal" guy, so he might say I want more than free golf, how about a pardon?! I can understand Trump's desire for one considering the potential criminal investigations he is facing upon leaving office. But all we are offering is golf -- take it or leave it.

I think most Americans -- or at least the 51% of voters who cast a ballot for Biden -- would agree Trump can gleefully enjoy all the taxpayer-financed golf, diet Cokes and burgers he can handle between now and January 20. In exchange, all he has to do is resign right away. It's a win for all involved. This could save American lives from Covid-19, save our democracy from Trump's assault and provide Trump the freedom to focus on what he does best: Golf and tweeting. What do you say, Mr. President?

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He still has a card up his sleeve after all, he is still Commands in Chief. I doubt he will go that route, but National Security is not peanuts.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - grand finale?

Postby Meno_ » Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:52 pm


'Beyond an embarrassment,' legal experts say of Trump and Giuliani's floundering efforts in court
"It's as dysfunctional a litigation strategy as I've ever seen," one attorney told NBC News.

Image: Rudy Giuliani And Trump Legal Advisor Hold Press Conference At RNC HQ

Rudy Giuliani was brought in to lead an "elite strike force" of lawyers to guide President Donald Trump's legal challenges to the 2020 election, but their efforts have been "dysfunctional" and "an embarrassment," based on "unsubstantiated evidence" and "outlandish claims," legal experts told NBC News.

"It's beyond an embarrassment," said lawyer Glenn Kirschner. "It's both really poor lawyering and it has the worst possible motive behind it. It's all in the name of overturning the will of American voter."

Election lawyer Matthew Sanderson compared Giuliani unfavorably to James Baker, who led George W. Bush's legal effort in the 2000 presidential election.

"This is like Bush v. Gore, but replace James Baker with the editor of a QAnon subreddit," he said. "It's not competent lawyering. There are strategic errors, typographical errors — every kind of error you can make in a case."

"It's as dysfunctional a litigation strategy as I've ever seen," Sanderson added.

On Monday, the campaign filed its appeal of a federal judge's ruling dismissing the campaign's lawsuit in Pennsylvania challenging some mail-in votes.

The appeal complained the judge in the case, Matthew Brann, "misconstrued the remedy sought. The Campaign is not seeking to disenfranchise 6.8 million Pennsylvanians," as the judge wrote in his scathing decision — and Giuliani acknowledged in a court hearing last week.

The appeal says the campaign just wanted to set aside some ballots that they believe may be defective — and then notes that one of the remedies they're seeking is "an order that the results of the 2020 Presidential general election are defective, which would allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose Pennsylvania's electors" — in other words, which would disenfranchise 6.8 million Pennsylvanians by dismissing their votes.

The filing at one point refers to ballots as "ballets," and another of the campaign's filings earlier in the day referred to "Presidential Donald J. Trump" instead of president.

That earlier filing — which said the campaign was only appealing part of Brann's order but then added it might appeal other parts of the order — led to confusion from other defendants in the case, who said it was improper and they couldn't understand what exactly the campaign was seeking.

It also wasn't the first such filing since Trump named Giuliani his lead lawyer. Earlier in the same Pennsylvania case, Giuliani was seeking to add back in arguments his predecessors had dropped, presumably because they didn't have the evidence to back their claims. "The lawyers thought they were losers," Sanderson said.

Also Monday, the campaign lost another lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court — the latest in a string of dozens of court losses in six swing states since the election, most of which were started by Giuliani's predecessors.

"I don't think any team of lawyers can save this case. Election litigation is not designed to overturn tens of thousands of votes. That just doesn't happen. But even with that caveat, this strategy has not been well-executed," Sanderson said.

He noted that Giuliani seemed to struggle with some legal terms during his court appearance last week, and his over-the-top claims about a massive nationwide voter fraud scheme haven't been helping his credibility.

Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, said Giuliani's efforts aren't aimed at winning court challenges — they're designed to bolster Trump's attacks on the democratic process.

"I think this is a strategy of trying to dog whistle to his base" by attacking minority voters in Democratic strongholds, she said. "It's to cheapen the process of how we resolve our political differences peacefully, and cast doubt on the outcome of the election in which he's not the winner."

"It's a pernicious, problematic attempt to bedraggle our democratic processes," Pérez said, adding the legal campaign has been full of "unsubstantiated allegations, inadequate evidence and outlandish claims."

Some of those claims have apparently even gotten to be too much for the president — he jettisoned lawyer Sidney Powell from his team over the weekend after she suggested Republicans had taken payoffs to fix the election in Georgia. That's where two seats that will determine control of the U.S. Senate are up for grabs in a runoff election in January.

Giuliani had made claims similar to some of Powell's, but never accused any Republicans of wrongdoing.

A source familiar with Trump's thinking told NBC News Monday the president was unhappy with Powell's and Giuliani's over-the-top performances at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters last week, where both shared baseless conspiracy theories about the election. The source said Trump is concerned his team is comprised of "fools that are making him look bad."

Pérez called Giuliani's variety of conspiracy allegations "the legal equivalent of jumping the shark."

"This is all going to ultimately fail, but this is still going to be damaging," she said.

Kirschner, an NBC News legal analyst, said, "It angers me when I hear Donald Trump's lawyers and defenders say, 'You have every right to bring these cases.' Actually, no. You have every right to bring a winning case. You don't have a right to file a frivolous lawsuit for purposes other than winning a lawsuit, like trying to undermine public confidence in elections."

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Re: Trump enters the stage - power to will ?

Postby Meno_ » Wed Nov 25, 2020 7:38 pm

Lame marked baby, Man, will he throw a tantrum as commander - in - chief. ?



The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal
How a state that was never in doubt became a "national embarrassment" and a symbol of the Republican Party’s fealty to Donald Trump.

An elections worker rubs his head in the closing hours where absentee ballots were processed at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit.
An elections worker rubs his head in the closing hours where absentee ballots were processed at the central counting board, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. | AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

11/24/2020 09:00 PM EST

Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine.

After five years spent bullying the Republican Party into submission, President Donald Trump finally met his match in Aaron Van Langevelde.


That’s right. In the end, it wasn’t a senator or a judge or a general who stood up to the leader of the free world. There was no dramatic, made-for-Hollywood collision of cosmic egos. Rather, the death knell of Trump’s presidency was sounded by a baby-faced lawyer, looking over his glasses on a grainy Zoom feed on a gloomy Monday afternoon, reading from a statement that reflected a courage and moral clarity that has gone AWOL from his party, pleading with the tens of thousands of people watching online to understand that some lines can never be uncrossed.

“We must not attempt to exercise power we simply don’t have,” declared Van Langevelde, a member of Michigan’s board of state canvassers, the ministerial body with sole authority to make official Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. “As John Adams once said, 'We are a government of laws, not men.' This board needs to adhere to that principle here today. This board must do its part to uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal duty to certify this election.”

Van Langevelde is a Republican. He works for Republicans in the Statehouse. He gives legal guidance to advance Republican causes and win Republican campaigns. As a Republican, his mandate for Monday’s hearing—handed down from the state party chair, the national party chair and the president himself—was straightforward. They wanted Michigan’s board of canvassers to delay certification of Biden’s victory. Never mind that Trump lost by more than 154,000 votes, or that results were already certified in all 83 counties. The plan was to drag things out, to further muddy the election waters and delegitimize the process, to force the courts to take unprecedented actions that would forever taint Michigan’s process of certifying elections. Not because it was going to help Trump win but because it was going to help Trump cope with a loss. The president was not accepting defeat. That meant no Republican with career ambitions could accept it, either.

Which made Van Langevelde’s vote for certification all the more remarkable. With the other Republican on the four-person board, Norman Shinkle, abstaining on the final vote—a cowardly abdication of duty—the 40-year-old Van Langevelde delivered the verdict on his own. At a low point in his party’s existence, with much of the GOP’s leadership class pre-writing their own political epitaphs by empowering Trump to lay waste to the country’s foundational democratic norms, an obscure lawyer from west Michigan stood on principle. It proved to be the nail in Trump’s coffin: Shortly after Michigan’s vote to certify, the General Services Administration finally commenced the official transition of power and Trump tweeted out a statement affirming the move “in the best interest of our Country.”

Still, the drama in Lansing raised deeper questions about the health of our political system and the sturdiness of American democracy. Why were Republicans who privately admitted Trump’s legitimate defeat publicly alleging massive fraud? Why did it fall to a little-known figure like Van Langevelde to buffer the country from an unprecedented layer of turmoil? Why did the battleground state that dealt Trump his most decisive defeat—by a wide margin—become the epicenter of America’s electoral crisis?

Large numbers of people gathered to join in the Stop the Steal protest, on Nov. 7 in Lansing, which was organized to show opposition to Biden winning the presidency. Many at the demonstration suspected voting counts to be inaccurate or fraudulent. | Stephen Zenner/Sipa via AP Images

In conversations with more than two dozen Michigan insiders—elected officials, party elders, consultants, activists—it became apparent how the state’s conditions were ripe for this sort of slow-motion disaster. Michigan is home to Detroit, an overwhelmingly majority Black city, that has always been a favorite punching bag of white Republicans. The state had viral episodes of conflict and human error that were easily manipulated and deliberately misconstrued. It drew special attention from the highest levels of the party, and for the president, it had the potential to settle an important score with his adversary, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Perhaps most important, Trump’s allies in Michigan proved to be more career-obsessed, and therefore more servile to his whims, than GOP officials in any other state he has cultivated during his presidency, willing to indulge his conspiratorial fantasies in ways other Republicans weren’t.

This, Republicans and Democrats here agreed, was the essential difference between Michigan and other states. However sloppy Trump’s team was in contesting the results in places like Georgia and Wisconsin, where the margins were fractional, there was at least some plausible justification of a legal challenge. The same could never be said for Michigan. Strangely liberated by his deficit of 154,000 votes, the president’s efforts here were aimed not at overturning the results, but rather at testing voters’ faith in the ballot box and Republicans’ loyalty to him.

“We have to see this for what it is. It’s a PR strategy to erode public confidence in a very well-run election to achieve political ends,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said in an interview last week. “This was not any type of valid legal strategy that had any chance at ultimately succeeding.”

“Anybody can sue anybody for any reason. But winning is a whole different matter. And Trump didn’t have a realistic pathway here,” Brian Calley, the former GOP lieutenant governor, told me prior to the certification vote. “I’m not too worried about the end result in Michigan. I understand the drama. … I know the system looks clunky. But I actually think we’ll look back on this and say, you know, we’ve actually got a very strong system that can stand up to a lot of scrutiny.”

Benson and Calley were right that Trump was never going to succeed at altering the outcome in Michigan—or in any of the other contested states, or in the Electoral College itself. The 45th president’s time in office is drawing to a close. No amount of @realdonaldtrump tweets or wild-eyed allegations from his lawyers or unhinged segments on One America News can change that.

But what they can change—where he can ultimately succeed—is in convincing unprecedented numbers of Americans that their votes didn’t count. Last month, Gallup reported that the public’s confidence in our elections being accurate dropped 11 points since the 2018 midterms, which included a 34-point decrease among Republicans. That was before a daily deluge of dishonest allegations and out-of-context insinuations; before the conservative media’s wall-to-wall coverage of exotic conspiracy theories; before the GOP’s most influential figures winked and nodded at the president of the United States alleging the greatest fraud in U.S. history.

Trump failed to win Michigan. But he succeeded in convincing America that a loss, no matter how conclusive, may never again be conclusive enough.

The irony of Michigan’s electoral meltdown is that Election Day, in the eyes of veteran clerks and poll workers across the state, was the smoothest it had ever been. Like clockwork, one can always depend on controversies—sometimes mini-scandals—to spring up by noontime on any given Election Day. But not in 2020. There were no documented instances of voter intimidation. No outcry over precincts opening late or closing early. Heck, in the state’s biggest and busiest voting jurisdictions, there were no lines to complain about. The day was eerily uneventful.

Much of this owed to months of tireless preparation by election officials at the state and local level. Of course, it also had something to do with the historic nature of 2020: More than half of Michigan’s voters chose to vote absentee, the result of a new law that predated the deadly Covid-19 pandemic that scared many people away from voting in-person. For this reason, Michiganders were not congratulating themselves when the polls closed on election night. They knew the real gantlet lay ahead.

“You’re talking about election officials implementing new laws, running an election with a 60 percent mail vote, in the middle of a pandemic,” said Chris Thomas, Michigan’s longtime chief elections administrator, a nonpartisan who spent decades working under secretaries of state from both parties. “In terms of voters getting the ballots processed and counted in a reasonable time period, I thought they did a marvelous job. But it was a huge challenge.”

Because state law prohibited the processing of absentee votes until 7 a.m. on Election Day—preventing workers from getting a head start with the time-consuming work of opening envelopes, removing ballots and preparing them for tabulation—everyone understood the state would face a historic backlog of votes to count once the polls closed at 8 p.m. This was the source of a monthslong dispute between the Democratic governor, the Democratic secretary of state and the Republicans who control both the House and Senate in Lansing. Whitmer and Benson warned the GOP leaders that a protracted counting process, especially in the scenario of a competitive election, would invite chaos. Other states Trump carried in 2016, such as Ohio and Florida, allowed for pre-canvassing of absentee and other mail-in ballots so that voters would know which candidate carried the state on election night. Why couldn’t Michigan do the same?

In this Nov. 3 photo, election inspectors are reflected in a window as they begin processing ballots while a voter outside arrives to drop a ballot into an official box on Election Day at City Hall in Warren, Mich. | AP Photo/David Goldman

The Republicans—House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey—were not interested. Spooked by Trump’s continued assault on mail voting, and aware that their own members in the Legislature were distrustful of the new “no-excuse-absentee” rules, Chatfield and Shirkey weren’t inclined to do the process any favors. Only in the late stages of the race, when Republican state senator (and former secretary of state) Ruth Johnson suggested a meager concession—allowing 10 hours of absentee ballot processing before Election Day—did the GOP throw a bone to election workers.

It’s helpful to understand the party’s logic. Not only did they want to avoid the perception of aiding a system the president was attacking as illegitimate and not only were they skeptical of the Democrats’ concerns of a drawn-out count. But many Republicans didn’t believe the election would be terribly close to begin with. A summer’s worth of polling, conducted for them privately at the local and statewide level, indicated that Trump stood little chance of carrying Michigan a second time. The common expectation was that the president would lose comfortably, by at least 4 or 5 points, a margin that would render any controversy about absentee voting meaningless.

That thinking changed abruptly around 10 p.m. on election night. As the president surged to a durable lead in Florida—defying expectations by winning large numbers of Hispanics and holding his own among absentee voters—Michigan Republicans were gripped by equal parts euphoria and panic. It was clear Trump was running far more competitively than they’d anticipated; he was on track to win Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, three states that tally their ballots quickly, meaning the spotlight would abruptly shift to the critical, slow-counting battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Everyone here knew this had been a possibility, but it wasn’t until midnight that the urgency of the situation crashed over Republicans. Trump had built a lead of nearly 300,000 votes on the strength of same-day ballots that were disproportionately favorable to him. Now, with the eyes of the nation—and of the president—fixed on their state, Michigan Republicans scrambled to protect that lead. Laura Cox, chair of the state party, began dialing prominent lawmakers, attorneys and activists, urging them to get down to the TCF Center, the main hub of absentee vote counting in Detroit. She was met with some confusion; there were already plenty of Republicans there, as scheduled, working their shifts as poll challengers. It didn’t matter, Cox told them. It was time to flood the zone.

“This was all so predictable,” said Josh Venable, who ran Election Day operations for the Michigan GOP during five different cycles. “Detroit has been the boogeyman for Republicans since before I was born. It’s always been the white suburbs vs. Detroit, the white west side of the state vs. Detroit. There’s always this rallying cry from Republicans—‘We win everywhere else, but lose Wayne County’—that creates paranoia. I still remember hearing, back on my first campaign in 2002, that Wayne County always releases its votes last so that Detroit can see how many votes Democrats need to win the state. That’s what a lot of Republicans here believe.”

As things picked up at the TCF Center, with more and more white Republicans filing into the complex to supervise the activity of mostly Black poll workers, Chris Thomas noticed a shift in the environment. Having been brought out of retirement to supervise the counting in Detroit—a decision met with cheers from Republicans and Democrats alike—Thomas had been “thrilled” with the professionalism he’d witnessed during Monday’s pre-processing session and Tuesday’s vote tabulating. Now, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, things were going sideways. Groups of Republican poll challengers were clustering around individual counting tables in violation of the rules. People were raising objections—such as to the transferring of military absentees onto ballots that could be read by machines, a standard practice—that betrayed a lack of preparation.

“Reading these affidavits afterward from these Republican poll challengers, I was just amazed at how misunderstood the election process was to them,” Thomas chuckled. “The things they said were going on—it’s like ‘Yeah, that’s exactly what was going on. That’s what’s supposed to happen.’” (The Trump team’s much celebrated lawsuit against Detroit was recently withdrawn after being pummeled in local courtrooms; his campaign has to date won one case and lost 35.)

At one point, around 3:30 in the morning, Thomas supervised the receiving of Detroit’s final large batch of absentee ballots. They arrived in a passenger van. Thomas confirmed the numbers he’d verified over the phone: 45 trays, each tray holding roughly 300 ballots, for a total of between 13,000 and 14,000 ballots. Not long after, Charlie Spies, an attorney for the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican John James, approached Thomas inside the TCF Center. He wanted to know about the 38,000 absentee ballots that had just materialized. Thomas told him there were not 38,000 ballots; that at most it might have been close to 15,000.

“I was told the number was 38,000,” Spies replied.

By five o’clock on Wednesday morning, it was apparent Trump’s lead would not hold.

His cushion over Biden had been whittled down to 70,000 votes. There remained hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in the large, Democratic strongholds of Detroit, Lansing and Flint. The math was simply not workable for the president. Just before 9:30 a.m., Biden overtook Trump in the tally of Michigan’s votes—and suddenly, a switch flipped on the right.

After 24 hours of letting the democratic process work, Republicans around the country—watching Trump’s second term slipping through their fingers—began crying foul and screaming conspiracy. No state cornered the hysteria market quite like Michigan.

First it was breathless accusations about Antrim County, a rural Republican redoubt in northwestern Michigan with a total turnout of 16,044 voters, where the unofficial returns showed Biden leading Trump by 3,000 votes. (A human error caused the candidates’ totals to be transposed, the county clerk said, and it was quickly corrected, though this did nothing to stop context-less social media posts about the mistake from going viral, or to slow the spread of rumors about Governor Whitmer buying off local officials because she owned a vacation home in Antrim County.)

Then it was Stu Sandler, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and top adviser to James’ U.S. Senate campaign, moving preemptively to declare victory and accuse Democrats of trying to steal the seat. “John James has won this race. The ballots are counted. Stop making up numbers, stalling the process and cheating the system,” Sandler tweeted. (James, who was clinging to a small lead that would soon disappear, promptly retweeted this sinister claim. Sandler later deleted it and told me he apologized for tweeting “in the middle of an intense moment”—but stuck to his claims of widespread “irregularities” that damaged his candidate.)

The true insanity was saved for Detroit. By early afternoon on Wednesday, hundreds and hundreds of Republicans had descended on the TCF Center, responding to an all-hands-on-deck missive that went out from the state party and was disseminated by local officials. Cox, the party chair, tweeted out a video of her comrades standing outside the locked-up downtown building. “Republican poll challengers blocked from entering the TCF Center in Detroit! This is egregious!” she wrote.

Truly egregious was Cox’s dishonesty. At the time of her tweet, several hundred of her party’s poll challengers, attorneys and representatives were already inside the TCF Center monitoring the count. By law, Republicans were allowed to have 134 challengers in the room, one for each tabulation table. In reality, the GOP had far more than that, according to sworn testimony from nonpartisan poll watchers inside the TCF Center. Because of the overflow, election officials ultimately decided to lock down the complex, starting with the glass-encased canvassing room where the tabulation work was being done. This left dozens and dozens of Republicans trapped behind the glass—in addition to the hundreds of others locked outside with Cox. Some began to bang hard on the inside windows; others began to film workers handling the ballots, a violation of state law. To protect the workers, TCF officials covered some of the windows with cardboard—a decision Thomas said he was not consulted on, but absolutely agreed with.

“The people outside that room were doing exactly what the law says you would eject people for doing—they were disrupting the election,” Thomas said. “Everyone else in the room—the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the ACLU, the nonpartisans—they all still had a full complement of challengers in the room. And the Republicans, by the way, had far more challengers in the room than they were entitled to.”

What made this behavior all the more confounding, Thomas said, is that the election was conducted more transparently than any he’d ever participated in. Each of the 134 tables had monitors placed at the end, “showing every keystroke that was made,” so that challengers could see exactly what was happening. But he came to realize that none of this mattered. Having dealt with Republican poll challengers for decades, Thomas said, it was clear the people who infiltrated TCF on Wednesday were not adequately trained or there for the right reasons.

“They clearly came in believing there was mass cheating going on in Detroit and they were on a mission to catch it.”

Chris Thomas

“Unlike the people who were there Monday and Tuesday, these people Wednesday were totally unprepared. They had no idea how the system worked. They had no idea what they were there for,” Thomas said. “Many of them—not all of them, but many of them—they were on a mission. They clearly came in believing there was mass cheating going on in Detroit and they were on a mission to catch it.”

As conspiracy theories proliferated across the right-wing information universe—Sharpie markers disenfranchising Trump voters in Arizona, a marked Biden/Harris van unloading boxes full of ballots in Nevada, suspicious turnout patterns in Wisconsin—Detroit held a special place in the president’s heart.

When Trump addressed the nation from the White House on Thursday night, insisting the election had been “stolen” from him, he returned time and again to alleged misconduct in Michigan’s biggest city. Detroit, he smirked, “I wouldn’t say has the best reputation for election integrity.” He said the city “had hours of unexplained delay” in counting ballots, and when the late batches arrived, “nobody knew where they came from.” He alleged that Republicans had been “denied access to observe any counting in Detroit” and that the windows had been covered because “they didn’t want anybody seeing the counting.”

All of this was a lie. Republicans here—from Ronna Romney McDaniel to Laura Cox to federal and local lawmakers—knew it was a lie. But they didn’t lift a finger in protest as the president disparaged Michigan and subverted America’s democratic norms. Why?

In the days following Trump’s shameful address to the nation, two realities became inescapable to Michigan’s GOP elite. First, there was zero evidence to substantiate widespread voter fraud. Second, they could not afford to admit it publicly.

McDaniel was a case in point. Born into Michigan royalty—granddaughter of the beloved former governor, George Romney, and niece of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney—she knows the state’s politics as well as anyone. Working for her uncle’s campaign here, and then as a national committeewoman and state party chair, McDaniel earned respect for her canny, studied approach. She spun and exaggerated and played the game, but she was generally viewed as being above board.

That changed after Trump’s 2016 victory. Tapped by the president-elect to take over the Republican National Committee—on the not-so-subtle condition that she remove “Romney” from her professional name—McDaniel morphed into an archetype of the Trump-era GOP sycophant. There was no lie too outlandish to parrot, no behavior too unbecoming to justify, no abuse of power too flagrant to enable. Longtime friends worried that McDaniel wasn’t merely humiliating herself publicly; she seemed to be changing in private. She was no longer coolly detached from the passions of politics. If anything, she was turning into a true MAGA believer.

There was some relief, then, when in recent weeks McDaniel told multiple confidants that she doubted there was any scalable voter fraud in Michigan. Nevertheless, McDaniel told friends and fellow Republicans that she needed to stay the course with Trump and his legal team. This wasn’t about indulging him, she said, but rather about demonstrating a willingness to fight—even when the fight couldn’t be won.

If this sounds illogical, McDaniel’s thinking is actually quite linear. The RNC will vote in January on the position of chair. She is anxious to keep her job. It’s bad enough that despite an enormous investment of time and resources in Michigan, McDaniel was unable to deliver her home state for the president. If that might prove survivable, what would end McDaniel’s bid instantaneously is abandoning the flailing president in the final, desperate moments of his reelection campaign. No matter how obvious the outcome—to McDaniel, to the 168 members of the RNC, maybe even to Trump himself—any indication of surrender would be unforgivable.

This is why McDaniel has sanctioned her employees, beginning with top spokesperson Liz Harrington, to spread countless demonstrable falsehoods in the weeks since Election Day. It’s why the RNC, on McDaniel’s watch, tweeted out a video clip of disgraced lawyer Sidney Powell claiming Trump “won in a landslide” (when he lost by more than 6 million votes nationally) and alleging a global conspiracy to rig the election against him. It’s why McDaniel felt comfortable throwing under the bus a highly respected local Republican clerk in her own backyard, the Detroit suburb of Oakland County, for a human error that was rectified with transparency from start to finish. (The clerk, Tina Barton, called McDaniel’s insinuations of fraud “categorically false.”)

Honesty and decency have not been hallmarks of Republicanism during Trump’s presidency. They certainly are not priorities now. With Trump entering the anguished twilight of his presidency, all that appears to matter for someone like McDaniel—or Cox, the state party chair, who faces an upcoming election of her own—is unconditional fidelity to the president.

“The unfortunate reality within the party today is that Trump retains a hold that is forcing party leaders to continue down the path of executing his fantasy of overturning the outcome—at their own expense,” said Jason Cabel Roe, a Michigan-based GOP strategist who once worked as a vendor for McDaniel, and whose family goes back generations with hers. “Frankly, continuing to humor him merely excuses his role in this. The election wasn’t stolen, he blew it. Up until the final two weeks, he seemingly did everything possible to lose. Given how close it was, there is no one to blame but Trump.”

“Principled conservatives who respect the rule of law and speak out suddenly find themselves outcasts in a party that is no longer about conservativism but Trumpism.”

Cabel Roe added, “But if they want a future within the party, it is required of them to demonstrate continued fealty. Principled conservatives who respect the rule of law and speak out suddenly find themselves outcasts in a party that is no longer about conservativism but Trumpism. Just ask once-conservative heroes like Jeff Flake, Justin Amash and Mark Sanford.”

This same principle applies to Chatfield and Shirkey, the state legislative leaders who were summoned to Washington last week for a meeting with Trump. Under normal circumstances, nobody would begrudge anyone a meeting with the president. But the circumstances surrounding the Michigan GOP leadership’s secret huddle with Trump were anything but normal.

Just days earlier, a meeting of the Wayne County canvassing board had devolved into pandemonium after the two GOP members initially refused to certify the county’s results. There were valid concerns about some inconsistencies in the balancing of Detroit’s poll books; and yet, those inconsistencies were minimal relative to the 2016 election, when Trump won by a margin 15 times smaller—and when the board voted unanimously to certify the result. Monica Palmer, one of the GOP canvassers, caused an uproar when she offered to certify the rest of Wayne County—precincts like Livonia—without certifying Detroit. (Livonia, which is 95 percent white, had more poll-book irregularities than Detroit, which is 80 percent Black.)

Tweeting out siren emojis, Jenna Ellis, the attorney for Trump’s campaign, announced: “BREAKING: This evening, the county board of canvassers in Wayne County, MI refused to certify the election results. If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump.”

This proved wrong on two counts. First, the Wayne board—after a heated period of comments from the public—reversed course the same night and voted unanimously to certify the results after Democrats agreed to an audit of the county’s numerical inconsistencies. Second, the notion that legislators would under any circumstance be free to send their own partisans to the Electoral College had no basis in fact. Under Michigan statute, the only electors eligible to represent Michigan are those who will vote for the winner of the popular vote. There is no discretion for anyone—the governor, leaders of the legislature, canvassers at the county or state level—to do anything but follow the law.

Wayne County Board of Canvassers discuss a motion to certify election results during a board meeting in Detroit on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. | Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP

That didn’t stop Trump from buying in. Having long been advised by his legal team that state legislators would be his ace in the hole—particularly in Republican-controlled states with close elections—the president called Chatfield and Shirkey the morning after the Wayne board meeting. He invited them to the White House for a briefing on the state of play in Michigan. Both Chatfield and Shirkey are talented and ambitious, self-grooming for future runs at higher office. Both could see the obvious problems of meeting with the president at such a precarious moment—and both could also see how spurning Trump could torpedo their careers in the GOP.

When they huddled with some of their rank-and-file members, an uneasiness gripped some of the people present. Some wanted to know whether Trump had been inviting legislators from other swing states; others wondered whether he might make a direct ask to intervene on his behalf, putting them in a tenuous and potentially incriminating position. More than a few mentioned how their inboxes had exploded ever since Mark Levin, the far-right radio personality, had begun tweeting screeds about legislatures having the power to send any electors they wish to the Electoral College.

Ultimately, the GOP lawmakers felt they were obligated to go. This was the president calling on them—and besides, they joked, it might be a long time before a Republican occupied the Oval Office again. But precautions were taken. In a savvy move, Chatfield and Shirkey prepared a letter addressing concerns over funding to deal with Covid-19 in Michigan. They also brought along their general counsels. These two maneuvers—one to soothe the outcry over Michigan lawmakers meeting with a president whose legal team was calling for them to overturn the state’s election results; the other to insulate them from improper discussions about doing exactly that—were sufficient to sidestep any major crisis.

The president asked them about allegations of fraud, and the legislators told him about various probes they had authorized to look into reports of irregularities. But Trump, perhaps sensing the nervous reticence of his guests, did not make the ask they feared. As the meeting went on, it became apparent to some people in the room that more than anything, Trump had called his Michigan allies to Washington to get an honest assessment of what had happened there. He wanted to know if there was any pathway to victory. They told him there was not.

“I don’t get it,” the president said, venting confusion and frustration. “All these other Republicans, all over the country, they all win their races. And I’m the only guy that loses?”

Right around the time Chatfield and Shirkey were bearing the bad news to Trump in Washington, the Republican rumor mill was churning back home.

With all 83 counties boasting certified results, the only thing that stood between Joe Biden and his rightful claim to Michigan’s 16 electoral votes was certification from the state board of canvassers. In a rational political climate, this would not have been the subject of suspense. But the swirling innuendo and disinformation had long ago swept away any semblance of normalcy. Already, one of the board’s two Republicans, Norm Shinkle, a career party fixture, had hinted he would not vote to certify the state’s result. Because the two Democrats would obviously vote in favor of certification, a manic gush of attention turned to the other Republican member, Aaron Van Langevelde.

The problem? Hardly anyone knew the guy. Van Langevelde, a deputy legal counsel to the Michigan House GOP, had been appointed to the board less than two years earlier by Governor Rick Snyder. He had kept a deliberately low profile in Lansing, attending the occasional happy hour but spending most of his time in nearby Eaton County, where he lives with his wife, an assistant prosecutor, and their three children.

All day Friday, and throughout the weekend, a chorus of Michigan Republican heavyweights tried and failed to contact Van Langevelde. When it became apparent that his extended family was shooing away callers—giving the impression he did not welcome this intrusive sort of spotlight—word got around that Van Langevelde had cold feet. By Sunday morning, speculation was rampant that Van Langevelde would resign from the board on Monday. This made perfect sense to Republicans and Democrats alike: Based on their fact-finding mission into the mysterious fourth board member, Van Langevelde was a bookish type, a rule follower, an obsessive student of world history (particularly the Roman Empire) who believes to his core in a conservative application of the law. His pious Dutch sensibilities, one co-worker said, make him “the the kind of guy that would turn himself in for tasting a grape at the grocery store.” He would be inclined, Lansing insiders figured, to vote in favor of certifying the results. But he would be disinclined to throw away his future in the Republican Party. A resignation from the board was his only way out.

Working off this expectation, a late lobbying blitz turned on Shinkle. In the 36 hours preceding Monday’s vote, he was inundated with calls and emails and text messages from high-ranking Republican luminaries around the state. Some, such as former congressman and House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, urged him to certify the results in accordance with Michigan law. Others, including McDaniel and Cox and other state party figures, pleaded with Shinkle to stand his ground and insist on a two-week delay. The response they got was universal: He would promise to “do my best,” then he would offer a litany of unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. (Not everyone bothered contacting Shinkle: That his wife served as a plaintiff’s witness in Trump’s ill-fated lawsuit against Detroit struck many people not just as a conflict of interest, but as a clear indication he would never vote to certify.)

When Monday morning arrived, the Michigan MAGA coalition hoped to wake up to news of a postponed meeting on account of Van Langevelde’s resignation. No such luck. Nervously, the calls and text messages and email chains began anew—this time directed not toward Shinkle or Van Langevelde, but to each other. What was going on? Was the 1 p.m. meeting really going ahead as scheduled? Would Van Langevelde, who had stayed silent and off the grid for the previous 96 hours, dare to vote against the party’s edict?

Some Republicans didn’t want to believe it. But for others, reality began to set in. They had grown so accustomed to Republicans falling in line, bending a knee to Trumpism, that the notion of someone acting on his own personal ethic had become foreign. But the more they learned about Van Langevelde, the more he sounded like just that type of independent thinker. Some viewed his relative youth as an asset, believing he wouldn’t risk throwing away his future in the party. What they had failed to appreciate was that young conservatives were oftentimes the most disillusioned with the party’s drift from any intellectual or philosophical mooring.

By the time the meeting commenced, just after 1 p.m., the smart money had shifted dramatically—away from any resignation or delay and toward prompt certification. Van Langevelde did little to disappoint. “The board’s duty today is very clear,” he declared just minutes into the meeting. “We have a duty to certify this election.”

Like a good attorney, Van Langevelde meticulously questioned a number of expert guest speakers to ascertain if they had dissenting views of the board’s authority under state law. Time and again, they affirmed his position. The body did not have power to audit or investigate or recount; that could be done only by distinct bodies after certification was complete. The job of the board of state canvassers was narrowly to examine the certified results from all 83 counties and then, based on the relevant vote totals, certify a winner of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. The one time he was challenged—by Spies, the political superlawyer representing John James’ U.S. Senate campaign—Van Langevelde calmly brushed his recommendations aside, telling Spies, “I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on that.”

If this young canvasser’s rebellion against the entire Republican Party apparatus was surprising, what came next was all too predictable. Within minutes of Van Langevelde’s vote for certification—and of Shinkle’s abstention, which guaranteed his colleague would bear the brunt of the party’s fury alone—the fires of retaliation raged. In GOP circles, there were immediate calls for Van Langevelde to lose his seat on the board; to lose his job in the House of Representatives; to be censured on the floor of the Legislature and exiled from the party forever. Actionable threats against him and his family began to be reported. The Michigan State Police worked with local law enforcement to arrange a security detail.

All for doing his job. All for upholding the rule of law. All for following his conscience and defying the wishes of Donald Trump.

“It took a lot of courage for him to do what he thought was right and appropriate, given the amount of pressure he was under,” said Brian Calley, the GOP former lieutenant governor, who told me days earlier that he had never heard the name Aaron Van Langevelde. “He carried himself as well as anybody I’ve seen in that type of setting, including people with decades and decades of experience. He showed an awful lot of poise.”

In Michigan, the upcoming race to chair the Republican Party has already been turned on its head. Ron Weiser, the former party head who’s made it known that he wants to reclaim his old post, was thought to have a strong case against Cox, who has been viewed as unsteady by some GOP elders. But it was Weiser who, while chairing the party in 2018, recommended Van Langevelde to then-Governor Snyder—a fact Cox and her allies are already sharpening for attack.

That’s right: The name Van Langevelde is already so infamous in Michigan Republican lore that those associated with him are at risk of being branded turncoats, too.

It might sound silly, given Trump’s imminent departure from the White House. But Trump shows no sign of ceding the spotlight: He is already making noise about running for president in 2024. Because of this, and because of the sweeping transformation of the party—not just ideologically or stylistically, but mechanically, with MAGA loyalists now installed in state and local leadership posts across the country—the question of loyalty will continue to define the Republican identity for years to come.

That contours of that identity—what it means to be a Trump Republican—have gained clarity over time. The default embrace of nationalism. The indifference to ideas as a vision for governing. The disregard for institutional norms. The aversion to etiquette and the bottomless appetite for cultural conflict. Now there is another cornerstone of that identity: The subversion of our basic democratic process.


The Election That Broke the Republican Party

More than any policy enacted or court vacancy filled, Trump’s legacy will be his unprecedented assault on the legitimacy of the ballot box. And it will not be considered in isolation. Future iterations of the GOP will make casual insinuations of voter fraud central to the party’s brand. The next generation of Republicans will have learned how to sow doubts about election integrity in one breath and in the next breath bemoan the nation’s lack of faith in our elections, creating a self-perpetuating justification to cast suspicion on a process that by raw numbers does not appear conducive to keeping them in power.

Look no further than John James. It took three full weeks after Election Day—despite his race being called for Gary Peters on November 4, despite the certified county totals proving he had lost by 92,000 votes—for the Republican Senate nominee to concede defeat. In the interim, he released a series of videos calling for independent investigations into Detroit’s voting irregularities, insisting that such efforts are needed to “restore trust” in the system.

“This is not some whacked-out fringe,” James said in one taping. “When half the votes in our state believe we just had the most secure election in U.S. history, and the other half believe they were cheated, we have a problem.”

James is right. We do have a problem. Our elections continue to be underfunded. Our election bureaus are chronically understaffed. Our election workers are badly undertrained. Our elections are prone to a significant amount of human error—and any municipal or county clerk will tell you that concerns over not catching those errors keep them up at night.

But errors are not fraud. And when James says he’s troubled that half of Michigan’s voters feel they were cheated, he would do well to remember that he was the one telling them they got cheated in the first place.

That November 4 missive James retweeted from his campaign adviser—“Stop making up numbers, stalling the process and cheating the system”—has since been deleted. But there is no denying the advent of a pattern. Republicans in Michigan and across America have spent the past three weeks promoting baseless allegations of corruption at the ballot box, the rabid responses to which they use as justification to continue to question the fundamental integrity of our elections. It’s a vicious new playbook—one designed to stroke egos and rationalize defeats, but with unintended consequences that could spell the unraveling of America’s democratic experiment.

“By capriciously throwing around these false claims, you can’t get to the heart of a really important issue. In fact, you lose any credibility to get to the heart of that issue,” said Venable, the longtime Michigan GOP official who rocked his former comrades by endorsing Biden this fall. “And by the way, if you’re going to do an audit, you’d better do it statewide. This is not just a Detroit thing. There are sloppy Republican precincts all over the state. When I served on the Ingham County board of canvassers, we never had a problem in Lansing. You know where our big problems were? The small townships in the rural precincts of the county, run by Republican clerks. And those folks weren’t perpetrating fraud, either. That’s the point: There’s a difference between sloppiness and fraud. But you can’t solve one by inventing stories about the other.”

There is no immediate way to make Americans appreciate this distinction, no instant cure for the flagging confidence in our elections. But there are obvious incremental steps to take in the name of transparency and efficiency. First among them, acknowledged Chatfield, the Michigan House speaker, is getting rid of the rules that led to the TCF Center circus in the first place.

“There’s a lot we can learn in the state of Michigan, because the way we’ve handled this, it’s become a national embarrassment,” Chatfield told me in a brief interview after the final certification vote. “And one of the items where we should look at other states and see how they’ve done it well, is regarding the early processing of absentee ballots. We mishandled that this year. We should have allowed for early processing. We didn’t, and it became a spectacle. I think we can learn from that. It should be something the Legislature fixes moving forward.”

This is relatively easy for Chatfield to admit—he’s term limited and leaving office soon. For those Republicans left to pick up the pieces in the coming legislative session, there may be little incentive for bipartisan cooperation on a subject that now divides the two party bases as starkly as gun rights or tax rates. The backlash against absentee voting from Republican constituents was already fierce; in the wake of Trump’s defeat and the TCF Center conspiracies, Republicans might find it beneficial to avoid raising the issue at all.

There is little cause for optimism. If the majority of GOP politicians couldn’t be bothered to do the easy work of debunking crackpot conspiracy theories, how likely are they to do the hard work of hardening our democracy?

“A lot of our leaders in this country ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Thomas, the nonpartisan elections guru who kept Michigan’s governing class guessing his political affiliation for the past several decades. “They have propagated this narrative of massive fraud, and it’s simply not true. They’ve leapt from some human error to massive fraud. It’s like a leap to Never Neverland. And people are believing them.”

He exhaled with a disgusted groan.

“The people of this country really need to wake up and start thinking for themselves and looking for facts—not conspiracy theories being peddled by people who are supposed to be responsible leaders, but facts,” Thomas said. “If they’re not going to be responsible leaders, people need to seek out the truth for themselves. If people don’t do that—if they no longer trust how we elect the president of the United States—we’re going to be in real trouble.”

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