Editorial: In Donald Trump’s America, Defending a Fair Election Can Lead to Death Threats

Only in Donald Trump’s America do U.S. election officials suffer harrassment and even fear for their lives when simply doing their jobs doesn’t align with the Trumpian will. And only in Donald Trump’s America do the neither the president, nor Republican lawmakers, speak out against the situation. Donald Trump’s inability to accept the results of a fair and free presidential election in which he was not the winner has influenced his loyalists to reject the results, as well, and their response threatens to be deadly.

In the month following Election Day 2020, a number of government officials— even some who voted for Trump— have suffered real and threatened retaliation for refusing to change or deny the results of the election that resulted in Joe Biden’s victory as president-elect. Governors, secretaries of state, a senior Homeland Security official, and even a 20-year-old contractor from a voting system company, have received death threats and/or calls for removal from their jobs for acting with integrity. In addition, the Attorney General, usually a Trump sycophant, has just spoken up and denied any findings of election fraud that would change the results of the election.

Even though Donald Trump’s legal team has lost more than 40 lawsuits in its efforts to overturn the election results, all evidence confirms that the 2020 election was free and fair. Election officials and security experts have said that it was the most secure presidential election in American history. Yet Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen from him has not let up. If anything, it has grown more insistent, and more detached from reality as time goes by, as recounts confirm the winner, and as certifications are completed. In turn, Trump’s supporters have broken with reality. The only remedy, as they see it, would be to remove those who stand in the way of what they want reality to be.

“Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed, and it’s not right,” said Georgia’s voting implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, during a press conference. Sterling called on Trump to condemn the threats against election officials and others.

Sterling, a Republican, oversaw the tally of votes in Georgia, as well as the recount demanded by Donald Trump. His confirmation of Joe Biden as the winner, and his refusal to participate in or support the unlawful overturn of Georgia’s election drew wrath from president Trump. Trump’s denigration of Sterling, not unexpectedly, spurred Trump supporters to take up their pitchforks and hurl verbal abuse, complete with death threats, at Sterling.

Sterling’s boss, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, has endured verbal abuse and death threats, as well, for standing up to pressure to “put his thumb” on the results of the Georgia election. Raffensperger certified Joe Biden as the winner. It wasn’t long before caravans of loud, horn-honking Trump supporters began repeatedly driving by his home, some even trespassing on his property. Raffensperger’s wife has received sexually explicit threats on her cell phone. Republican U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both running for re-election in Georgia’s January 5 run-off election, have called for Raffensperger’s firing— simply because he won’t unlawfully change the election results to make Donald Trump the winner.

Donald Trump has called Raffensperger an enemy of the people. “The people” being, of course, those who want Donald Trump to get (at least) another four years in office, even if by unethical means.

There’s nothing like acting with integrity to incite the anger of a staunch Trump supporter. Well, some of them, anyway. For others, like most GOP lawmakers in Congress, there’s nothing like watching Donald Trump incite violence and lawlessness to incite their silence.

“This is elections,” said Sterling. “This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. It’s too much. Yes, fight for every legal vote. Go through your due process. We encourage you. Use your first amendment. That’s fine.

“Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s too much. It’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground to claim that it is,” he said.

Sterling talked of the 20-year-old voting system contractor whom QAnon influencers targeted on Twitter. The influencer claimed to have a video of the contractor changing votes, though he was in reality pulling a report from a voting machine, using a laptop to read the data. (Third-party software is not allowed on voting machines.) The Twitter campaign against him led to death threats, as well as a noose being placed outside his house. “I’ve got police protection outside my house. Fine,” Sterling continued. “You know, I took a higher-profile job. I get it. Secretary ran for office. His wife knew that too. This kid took a job. He just took a job. It’s just wrong.”

Even Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, himself a Trump supporter, has been derided by Donald Trump for following the law regarding the election. Trump has pressured Kemp to issue an executive order to re-match signatures to absentee ballots, which Trump insists would turn the election in his favor.

“Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “It will be a ‘goldmine’ of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state…”

Twitter immediately flagged Trump’s tweet as containing unsubstantiated claims. “This claim about election fraud is disputed” appears under more of Trump’s tweets than not, of late.

In response to Trump, Governor Kemp’s office released this statement: “Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections. The Secretary of State, who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order. As the Governor has said repeatedly, he will continue to follow the law and encourage the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps – including a sample audit of signatures – to restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised.”

Brian Kemp is not the only state governor to be attacked by Trump for failing to ensure that the election turned out the way Trump wanted it to. Arizona governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican whose re-election bid Trump endorsed in 2018, has become one more target of Trump’s verbal abuse. Ducey’s signing off on Arizona’s election certification of Joe Biden as the winner prompted a Trump tweet storm in which Trump accused Ducey of betraying “the people of Arizona” by not helping to overturn the results of the election.

Trump has made it clear that he thinks that any government official who is loyal to him must enable or support the overturn of the election. Otherwise, they are traitors who deserve his wrath, and whatever else his loyal supporters might deem necessary.

Take “traitor” Chris Krebs, who was Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in the United States Department of Homeland Security— until shortly after the 2020 presidential election. Krebs, a Republican and a Trump appointee in charge of the agency responsible for election security, debunked conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was rife with fraud, saying that the 2020 election was “the country’s most secure, ever.”

Donald Trump fired Krebs almost immediately, using his Human Resources representative of choice, Twitter. “The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches” in the voting machines which changed…

“…votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.” (Followed by Twitter’s “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”)

Trump campaign lawyer Joseph DiGenova followed up by calling for Krebs’ head. DiGenova, part of the Trump legal team behind the numerous unsuccessful and increasingly unhinged lawsuits to try to overturn election results, said on Newsmax’s The Howie Carr Show, “Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity. That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

DiGenova, who was once a respected U.S. district attorney, could face disciplinary action for his remarks. Neither president Trump, nor Republican lawmakers as a group have condemned the comments. Nor have they spoken out or tried to stop any of the other threatening words and behavior aimed at the election officials who stand behind the results of the election.

“DiGenova, who said for Chris Krebs to get shot, is a former US attorney,” said Gabriel Sterling during Monday’s press conference. “He knows better. The people around the president know better. Mr President, as the secretary said yesterday, people aren’t giving you the best advice of what’s actually going on on the ground. It’s time to look forward. If you want to run for re-election in four years, fine – do it. But everything we’re seeing right now, there’s not a path. Be the bigger man here, and step in. Tell your supporters: ‘Don’t be violent. Don’t intimidate.’ All that’s wrong. It’s un-American.”

Donald Trump knows, however, that his loyalists like it when he talks violence. He also knows that they interpret his unwillingness to soundly condemn it as being in support of it. Those who voted for him a second time have made clear over the last four years that they don’t care whether Donald Trump is the “bigger man.” Trump has remained silent about the threats and violence, but he has doubled down on his baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and it energizes his base. And because it energizes his base, Republican lawmakers remain silent for fear of losing votes. Donald Trump knows this.

Georgia Election Official Condemns Threats Of Violence, Slams Trump, GOP For Not Speaking Out | NBC News [2020-11-01]

Former US Election Security Chief Reacts To Comment That He Should Be ‘Shot’ | TODAY [2020-12-01]

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