Editorial: Trump Denies Talking Martial Law, But The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

As absurd and unhinged as Donald Trump’s rejection of the 2020 presidential election results has been, the suggestion of using martial law to overturn the results transcends absurdity. The idea that Trump could possibly entertain invoking martial law to force an American election to turn out in his favor has alarmed even some Trump officials who normally don’t have a problem with Donald Trump’s authoritarian behavior.

Some Trump loyalists have recently called on Trump to invoke martial law to overthrow the 2020 election, which they (and Trump) have baselessly insisted was rife with voter fraud. Trump aides who were present at a December 18 Oval Office meeting have said that Trump discussed the idea of invoking martial law during the meeting.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump recently pardoned for criminal charges relating to the Russia investigation, tweeted that Trump should “temporarily suspend the Constitution” and declare martial law. And just days before the December 18 Oval Office meeting, Flynn, on conservative station Newsmax, suggested that Trump send the U.S. military to swing states where Biden won, to make them “rerun the election.” 

“He could order within the swing states… if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states, and basically re-run an election in each of those states,” said Flynn.

Republican Virginia state senator Amanda F. Chase, a contender for Virginia governor, has also taken up the “martial law” flag. Shortly after the electoral college confirmed Joe Biden as president-elect, Chase took to Facebook. 

“Not my President and never will be,” wrote Chase, referring to Joe Biden. “The American people aren’t fools. We know you cheated to win and we’ll never accept these results. Fair elections we can accept but cheating to win; never. It’s not over yet. So thankful President Trump has a backbone and refuses to concede. President Trump should declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn.”

Trump has dismissed the reports that he has discussed invoking martial law.

“Martial Law = Fake News,” tweeted Trump on December 18. “Just more knowingly bad reporting!”

It doesn’t matter much whether Trump is telling the truth about that conversation. He’s sounded yet another dog whistle for his base. As with Trump’s references to QAnon, the Proud Boys, and other fringe groups and activities, his mere mention of martial law is enough for many Trump supporters to take it as a signal of support from their leader. Those who have been waiting for the opportunity to use their weapons to play Army (and who don’t fully understand the concept of “martial law”) could be incited to violence in the name of “patriotism.” 

Elizabeth Neumann, former assistant secretary of Homeland Security under president Trump, told CNN’s Reliable Sources, ”In the conspiratorial conservative base of supporting Trump, there are calls for using the Insurrection Act to declare martial law.

“When they hear that the president is actually considering this, there are violent extremist groups that look at this as a dog whistle, an excuse to go out and create … violence,” said Neumann. 

She refers to it as acceleration. These groups try to overthrow the U.S. government…”through a civil war and look to accelerate the chaos, accelerate the coming of the civil war.

“So when they hear that the president is open to this idea of martial law, we may see certain groups mobilizing to commit acts that, in their minds, a justification for the use of the Insurrection Act,” Neumann said.

But aren’t these Trump-supporting extremist groups misreading what the Insurrection Act of 1807 really is? This federal law empowers a U.S. president to deploy U.S. military and National Guard troops in the United States to suppress insurrection and rebellion. In the fantasy world of violent extremist Trump supporters, they apparently see themselves as the heroes who will, right alongside real military troops, vanquish the evil Biden voters, or force them at gunpoint to vote for Donald Trump. 

Various notable members of the U.S. military, however, have spoken out to affirm that the military has no role in the outcome of an American election.

Retired 11th Commander of US SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) Tony Thomas, for example, tweeted on December 18, “Mike (Flynn), stop. Just stop. You are a former soldier. You know that leveraging the military to “rerun elections” is a totally inappropriate role for the profession. You are also undercutting the extraordinary trust and confidence America has in their military. Stop!”

As for those Trump supporters who aren’t part of violent extremist groups, or those who aren’t living in the middle of a conspiracy theory, how do they reconcile “land of the free” with instituting martial law to overthrow a U.S. election? How do they apply “home of the brave” to any of the GOP lawmakers they’ve elected and re-elected, who can’t muster the courage to stand up against Donald Trump’s continued attempts to take down democracy? 

INSANE: Trump Actually Considering MARTIAL LAW | 
The David Pakman Show [2020-12-21]

Oval Office Meeting w/ Sidney “Kraken” Powell, Mike “Martial Law” Flynn & “Dangerous” Donald Trump | Glenn Kirschner [2020-12-20]

The United States Electoral College Says Joe Biden is President-Elect. Will the GOP Still Refuse To?

On Monday, December 14, the United States Electoral College made it official: Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. It was California’s 55 electoral votes that put president-elect Biden over the top, giving him more than the required 270 electoral votes to secure his win. Donald Trump’s supporters, including his base and most Republican members of Congress, have refused to recognize the legitimacy of Biden’s win. With the official vote of the United States Electoral College granting Joe Biden the victory, will more Republicans come around to recognizing it? 

Though faithless electors are rare in any American presidential election, this year, many Americans held their breath in hopes that none of the electors who were designated to cast their votes for Biden would have succumbed to pressure from Donald Trump to change their votes in favor of Trump. It turns out that the electors, as they pledged to do, have done the right thing and represented the will of the people, and not the unlawful will of Donald Trump.

Americans as a whole don’t usually watch nervously for the results of the electoral college’s votes, either, but this year is different. During the 2020 election cycle, the Republican Party, now the cult of Donald Trump, has gone to increasingly absurd lengths to delegitimize Joe Biden’s presidential win. 

First, following the November 7 Associated Press declaration of Joe Biden as the winner, there was the refusal by all but 22 Republican lawmakers to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Had Donald Trump not repeatedly falsely proclaimed himself the winner in social media, on TV news shows, and during rallies over the ensuing six weeks since the election, it’s probable that none of them would have had so much difficulty agreeing with reality. Never in our country’s history has a body of lawmakers refused to acknowledge the results of a free and fair election. But, as we’ve seen for four years, the GOP is afraid of crossing Donald Trump. They need his support, and they fear his verbal abuse, and so, no matter how preposterous his behavior, the GOP remains behind their man. 

When Trump and his lawyers filed lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit baselessly challenging the secure election processes in various states, the GOP found a convenient way to refrain from either agreeing or disagreeing with the 2020 election results— they could say they couldn’t be sure who was the winner until the legal challenges went through the courts. This allowed them not to commit to an ethical and lawful position that would ire Donald Trump, and it also allowed them not to openly commit to supporting a position not founded in reality or based on law. 

Of the more than 50 lawsuits filed by the Trump legal team and/or Trump loyalists in attempts to overturn the election results, more than 40 have been rejected, dismissed, withdrawn, or settled. Trump and his team, however, vow to continue bringing lawsuits until Joe Biden is inaugurated. 

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear both lawsuits Republicans brought before them in attempts to overturn Biden’s victory, including one by Republican Representative Mike Kelly. Kelly’s lawsuit disputed the constitutionality of universal mail-in voting in Pennsylvania, and asked that Pennsylvania mail-in ballots be thrown out. 

In response, SCOTUS issued this brief order: “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice [Samuel] Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.” There was apparently no dissent among the nine justices.

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, backed by Trump, filed a second lawsuit attempting to reverse Joe Biden’s victory. Paxton’s lawsuit sought to negate Biden’s wins in the four key swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Abandoning their core principle of “states’ rights” (including that a state has no right to govern another state’s election laws and process), more than 120 Republican members of Congress, and more than a dozen states where Trump won the popular vote, filed briefs supporting Texas’ lawsuit. 

Again, SCOTUS issued a brief order rejecting the case, saying that Texas does not legally have the right to sue the states because it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

The U.S. Supreme Court includes three Trump-appointed justices. Trump, it appears, had been confident that “his” Supreme Court would help him out. Before the November 3 election, and after setting up his base to expect voter fraud, should he not win, Trump expressed that he believed the race would be decided by the Supreme Court. He was disappointed. 

“The Supreme Court really let us down,” Trump tweeted on December 11. “No Wisdom, No Courage!” 

Wisdom and courage, however, seem to be in short supply, not in the U.S. Supreme Court, who were doing what they were appointed to do— interpreting the law— but in GOP lawmakers. The party who consider themselves “patriots” are supporting Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, and his increasingly irrational proclamations that he has won the 2020 election. Apparently, “patriotism,” to them, is not about honoring a secure election, but instead, dishonorably defying it.  

Many in the GOP like to think of themselves as “constitutional conservatives,” but it has become unclear which “constitution” they are referring to. 

“This is the time for the ‘constitutional conservatives’ to acknowledge that when the electoral college elects the president-elect, he is president-elect,” noted CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip. 

With legal actions unraveling, especially now that the U.S. Supreme Court has roundly rejected two flimsy and evidence-devoid lawsuits, a few more GOP lawmakers have come around to admitting that it looks increasingly like Joe Biden is the legitimate president-elect. Unwilling to completely let go of their support of Trump and his fantasy re-election, but nevertheless seeing the walls of their refusal closing in, some are creeping closer to publicly acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect. Some, such as Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, still feel the need to add a statement like, “subject to whatever additional litigation is ongoing,” to their declarations.” 

Other Republicans still seem astonished that Trump hasn’t been successful at overturning the results of the election. With the likelihood looking increasingly bleak, they have been putting their faith in the December 14 electoral college vote. 

“Certifications are really just a procedural step,” said Lara Trump on Dec. 2. “The reality is the electors do not vote in each state until Dec. 14. The state legislatures each have the opportunity to delegate, you know, where they want those electoral votes headed.”

Trump campaign senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis said, “Let’s remember that the electoral college, which is our constitutional process, does not vote until December 14. We have plenty of time to pursue all legal options.”

Perhaps Republicans were hoping for Trump to pull a trick out of his sleeve on December 14. The electoral college vote has taken place, however. Joe Biden has been confirmed by “our constitutional process” as the winner.

In the days to come, will more Republicans return to their “constitutional conservative” roots and recognize that acknowledgement of Joe Biden as the president-elect will be what allows democracy and the constitution to work as designed, or will they continue to seek one more “official” day, one more lawsuit, one more magical victory that hasn’t happened yet?

Electoral College Votes To Make Biden Win Official | NBC Nightly News
NBC News [2020-12-14]

It’s Over: Watch MAGA Elector Confronted By Certified Vote On Live TV | The Beat With Ari Melber [2020-12-14]