Editorial: What Happens on January 6 Will Be a Litmus Test for All Republicans

On Wednesday, January 6, a joint session of Congress will meet to formally certify Joe Biden as president-elect. During the joint session, Americans may also see an unprecedented threat to American democracy by many of their elected officials as Trump loyalist lawmakers seek to block Biden’s certification, subverting the vote that has already been certified by all 50 states. 

Led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), at least 12 Republican senators and senators-elect have vowed that they will join Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley as he objects to certifying the election and moves to challenge the votes from states that voted for Biden/Harris. The coalition has called for a 10-day “emergency audit” to investigate Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud. As many as 140 House Republicans are also expected to challenge the election results. 

Donald Trump began his efforts to delegitimize the results of the 2020 presidential election before it even took place. Now, two months later, despite multiple audits and hand recounts, dozens of failed lawsuits by Trump’s lawyers, as well as confirmations by election officials (including Republican election officials), the Justice Department, and even the Department of Homeland Security that the election was secure, Trump and his supporters have doubled down on their insistence that the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump. 

Trump’s false claims and unsubstantiated tweets have grown in frequency and intensity, and amount more and more to the rantings of a madman desperate to retain a presidency that will no longer be his. Alarming as Trump’s rantings are, the mass hysteria of the GOP lawmakers as they echo and support Trump’s false claims should be even more horrifying. 

If they truly believe that Trump won the 2020 election, the mountains of evidence show that they are gravely deluded. If they are going along with Trump’s false claims because they think it would serve them or their careers, they are showing a lack of integrity that should evoke disgust in their constituents. Either way, these GOP lawmakers are demonstrating their unfitness for office, and pose a clear threat to the democratic process.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has told Republican senators not to challenge the legitimacy of the 2020 election results so as to avoid public debate. He knows it’s unlikely that the election results will be overturned. He also knows that it virtually guarantees that GOP lawmakers will then be forced to vote to show  whether they will stand with Donald Trump, or whether they will honor the will of American voters; Republicans, both the Trump base and others, will be watching.

On Sunday, the Washington Post obtained an hour-long recording of Donald Trump pressuring Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” the votes needed to overturn Georgia’s election results in order to make Trump the winner. On the recording, Trump begs, demands, and tries to bully Raffensperger in attempts to make him tilt the election in Trump’s favor. During the call, Raffensperger repeatedly and calmly rejects Trump’s false claims, citing the data that supports Biden’s win. 

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” said Trump. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

“You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Trump said. “Because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president. Okay? They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”

“Well, Mr. President,” responded Raffensperger, “The challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

During their conversation, Trump issued a vague threat to both Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s general counsel. Trump suggested that if they don’t “find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County have been illegally destroyed to block investigators” (a baseless allegation),  Raffensperger and Germany could be held criminally liable.

“You know what they did, and you’re not reporting it,” Trump said. “That’s a criminal offense,” he said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

Americans have now heard, in Trump’s own voice and words, his gangster-like attempted shakedown as he desperately sought to subvert the election’s outcome. The call is reminiscent of Trump’s “perfect call” to Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelenskiy, in which he pressured Zelenskiy to announce a fake investigation of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in hopes of portraying his political opponent, Joe Biden, in a bad light. (“I want you to do me a favor, though,” said Trump to Zelenskiy on that call.) 

Unlike the famous “perfect call” to Ukraine, however, GOP lawmakers can’t lie about its contents, can’t deny what the president said, or what he was asking for, because every American can hear it for themselves. Wednesday’s joint session of Congress will put lawmakers on trial as they demonstrate just how far they’ll go to side with the president. The country, itself, will be put on trial, as we show the world whether our Congress stands with corruption, or with a democratic election—an institution America has long helped other countries defend.

Beyond those Republican lawmakers who have vowed to object to the certified results of a lawful election, how will the Republican Party as a whole respond to this? How will it impact the party going forward? If they do nothing, if they don’t stand up to what amounts to a coup, what’s to stop the next attempt at overturning a free and fair presidential election from succeeding? 

Audio: Trump berates Ga. secretary of state, urges him to ‘find’ votes |
Washington Post [2021-01-03]

At Least 140 House Republicans Expected To Challenge Electoral College |
Business News [2020-12-31]

Editorial: Donald Trump’s Scorched Earth Policy: Not So Much Enactment As Acting Out

With less than a month before he leaves office, Donald Trump has acted out a policy of (non-)governance that amounts to scorched earth on steroids. Whether he calmly walks out of the Oval Office (unlikely) on his last day as president, is escorted out by police officers (possible), or is forcibly dragged out cursing (most likely), Donald Trump wants to ensure that he leaves a wasteland for his successor, and for the American people. If we thought Donald Trump sowed chaos and division over the past four years, what he’s done during his last days in office (and what he could still do in the remaining month) could wreak even more havoc on our gasping republic.

Trump has succeeded in undermining millions of Americans’ confidence in the American election process and in American systems of government. He has reinforced the belief, especially among his supporters, that Joe Biden won the election because of massive voter fraud. A December Fox News poll indicates that more than one-third of registered voters (77 percent of those who voted for Trump) now believe the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump. Fifty-six percent of all voters, and 85 percent of those who voted for Joe Biden, see Trump as having weakened American democracy by contesting the election. 

Donald Trump has fostered and reinforced such vehement belief among his base that the election was stolen that many of them have taken to alternative social media sites such as Parler to share their grievances, and reinforce each other’s alternative take on reality. Without any proof (and, in fact, ignoring the many times votes have been counted and recounted to prove the opposite), some have made radical plans to rally, take up arms, and “take back the election.” 

Though Trump has a mob of supporters who care nothing for evidence, facts, or truth, and thus are fully behind him, the walls are closing in; the “mainstream media” (MSM), the majority of American voters, and most of the rest of the world recognize Joe Biden as president-elect. So what’s a lame duck president to do if he wants to continue to live in an alternate reality where he is king? 

There’s always martial law. If we thought Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election had put a crack in American democratic systems, his toying with the idea of using the U.S. military to overturn the election, and the fact that anyone, any American, sees that as a rational possibility, threatens to widen the crack.

As far as one can tell, it wasn’t Donald Trump who first suggested the idea, but instead was Michael Flynn, Trump loyalist, former national security adviser, and recently pardoned felon. On pro-Trump media outlet Newsmax, Flynn suggested that Trump invoke martial law, and send the U.S. military to swing states where Biden won, to make those states “rerun the election.” 

And though he didn’t suggest the idea of misusing military troops to displace local law enforcement and re-do a free and fair election in order for it to come out in his favor, Donald Trump has not denounced or discouraged the idea. In fact, he has held discussions in the Oval Office about the possibility. 

With tens of millions of Americans no longer trusting American democratic systems, and with many of those ready to take up their pitchforks (or their AR-15s) in defense of the president who lives and breathes falsehood and would misuse military might to stay in power, the president apparently still needed something more with which to shock Americans who were beginning to think they’d seen it all with this president. 

Enter the use of the presidential pardon. Raising a figurative middle finger to justice and integrity, Donald Trump has begun doling out pardons to shady associates and unprincipled campaign donors as if he were dealing out cards for Blackjack. 

Among the 29 people Trump’s pardon roster so far Paul Manafort, who was convicted during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election; Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress; and Charles Kushner (yes, Jared Kushner’s father, and Ivanka’s father-in-law), who was convicted of campaign finance offenses, tax evasion, and witness tampering.

Other lucky recipients of Trump pardons are two people who pleaded guilty and served prison time in the Mueller investigation; three former Congressmen who have been convicted of felonies; four Blackwater guards who opened fire in a traffic circle in Baghdad, killing 17 Iraqi civilian men, women, and children; and two border patrol agents who were found guilty of using illegal and excessive force against an illegal immigrant. Earlier, Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, who was found guilty of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

Despite the president’s departure from anything resembling a leader of principle, Americans were led to believe on December 22 that they would at least finally soon get a little financial relief in the form of a coronavirus aid package Congress had just voted to pass.

After months of failing to pass a second bill to provide aid to financially desperate Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, Congress had finally agreed to a stimulus package that they thought President Trump was sure to sign. Though the amount of aid was paltry and included some hoops to jump through and cracks to fall between, unemployed Americans began to have some hopeful anticipation of their small stimulus checks and slim unemployment supplements. 

As if Donald Trump’s need to control situations just for the sake of controlling them hadn’t already been amply fulfilled, Trump shocked Americans, including GOP lawmakers, by suggesting that he wouldn’t sign the stimulus bill. Saying that the $600 one-time relief payment per qualifying person wasn’t enough for Americans (at least he was right about that), he told lawmakers to raise the amount to $2000 per qualifying person, the amount Democrats had in fact been lobbying for for months. 

Adam Schiff tweeted, “Listen, Democrats have been fighting for bigger relief checks for months. All while Trump was missing in action— playing golf, lying about the election, pardoning crooks. If he’s serious about the checks, he needs to get Republicans out of the way. Let’s make this happen.”

Said Nancy Pelosi, ”At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”

Republicans, who fought for months for a bill that would give hurting Americans as little as Congress could get away with, found themselves in a predicament: vote for Democrats’ original $2000 request and Trump’s demand to increase the amount of the relief checks, or disagree and risk backlash from their constituents.

Lest anyone believe Donald Trump had finally made an attempt to address the need of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, it should be noted that Trump’s behavior thus far has demonstrated that he cares little, if at all, about Americans’ desperation. He has been missing from the discussions and negotiations, and has only shown up to condemn the bill that some aides say he has barely read. 

Trump’s supporters latched on to the belief that Donald Trump was looking out for them by demanding more money in the relief payment, and this is no doubt what Donald Trump wanted… in addition to causing unnecessary uproar among lawmakers.

Now that House Republicans have blocked the $2000 payment measure, there is no clear path forward for the bill, Washington is in economic and political crisis, and millions of Americans stand to plunge into poverty as their current benefits expire the day after Christmas. Donald Trump will no doubt retreat once again, wearing a self-satisfied smirk

Donald Trump has fully absented himself from his job duties as president of the United States. Though his tweets and public appearances railing against the 2020 presidential election outcome might give the impression that he isn’t ready to abdicate his role, he already has. Judging from his scorched-earth approach to the presidential transition, it’s evident that he is aware that he will soon be gone, and wants to make sure he has decimated what he leaves behind. 

Trump says he won’t sign COVID-19 relief bill l Good Morning America

Trump pardons 15, including 4 Blackwater defendants who killed 14 innocent, unarmed Iraqis | Glenn Kirschner [2020-12-22]