This Perilous Week

The Georgia runoff elections are tomorrow, although we may not know who won right away. I am making no predictions about winners. I will predict that if Republicans lose the Senate, the Republican establishment will blame Trump and his insane phone call to Brad Raffensperger for it.

It’s Wednesday that worries me. The good news is that as of this writing 20 Senate Republicans have made a firm commitment to certifying the Electoral College votes. There is no way there will be a majority vote in either house to not certify. And now that Trump’s stupid stunt of a phone call is public, I’d be a little surprised if any more GOP senators join the Dirty Dozen in voting to overturn the election.

But that doesn’t put us out of danger. For one thing, I fear all the right-wing crazies in America are going to show up in DC Wednesday, armed and looking for fights. The Proud Boys have announced that instead of their signature black and yellow garb they will wear all black clothes to mimic antifa. So that violence will be blamed on antifa? The Washington Post has reported “Threats of violence, ploys to smuggle guns into the District and calls to set up an ‘armed encampment’ on the Mall.” As I’ve said previously, it would be better if leftie protesters just stayed away. Let the thugs be thugs. It’ll be on teevee. The world will be watching.

A few days ago David Ignatius wrote that he was hearing from Washington officials who were worried that Trump would use the street violence he is actively inciting as an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military. And this takes us to the next area of concern.

At Washington Monthly, David Atkins wonders what other phone calls Trump has been making that we don’t know about. And have any of those phone calls gone to generals?

Barely noticed in the hubbub surrounding the impeachable offense over Georgia’s election was this extraordinary letter from all ten living former defense secretaries, urging against involving the military in domestic election disputes….

… These statements should be shockingly self-obvious. So why did they need to be made? What is happening between Trump and the Pentagon that this would be necessary?

What, indeed?

Given Trump’s desperation to remain in power by any means necessary, his authoritarian instincts, his pretenses at military support, and his general assumption that all branches of the government work for him directly rather than the Constitution, it would be shocking if Trump were not attempting to force Pentagon officials into overthrowing democracy.

And indeed, if he weren’t doing so, why was the letter written? Why did every living former defense secretary sign it? Why did it mention explicitly the duties of the officials involved to respect and facilitate the transition of power?

It wasn’t long after the November election that Trump replaced senior administration officials at the Petagon with his own toadies. As recently as December 30, the Biden transition team was still complaining about being stonewalled by the Department of Defense and OMB. What are the toadies hiding?

I do not believe the heads of the armed services will touch this. But as we saw this summer in Portland and elsewhere, Trump is able to call up military-type “agents” from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protection Service, and elsewhere to conduct “police” actions that would have made Augusto Pinochet proud. And violence in the streets of the District of Columbia would give him an excuse to do so.

Yet there’s more. See Greg Sargent, A leading historian of U.S. democracy issues an urgent warning. Right now, since Democrats control the House, even if a majority of Senators were to vote to overturn the election, the effort would fail. But, Sargent asks, what might happen in a future election if Republicans hold a majority in both houses? A leading scholar of election history is warning that Republicans have shown they are willing to go down this path.

Even if Republicans pursuing this tactic don’t believe it will overturn the election this time, Keyssar told me, they “are establishing its legitimacy.”

“A norm is being broken,” Keysser said, one in which Congress does not “monkey with a presidential election unless there is ample evidence and cause.”

So, it’s not just Trump we have to worry about. And while Trump will be gone soon, all those Republicans willing to throw the Constitution under the bus will still be in office.

Tom Nichols writes in The Atlantic,

This is sedition, plain and simple. No amount of playacting and rationalizing can change the fact that the majority of the Republican Party and its apologists are advocating for the overthrow of an American election and the continued rule of a sociopathic autocrat.

This is not some handful of firebrands making a stand for the television cameras. In 2005, one Democrat in the House and one in the Senate filed an objection to counting Ohio’s electoral votes, while insisting that they were not contesting the outcome of the presidential election itself. In 2017, a handful of Democratic members of the House objected to the electoral count. Because they lacked support in the Senate, then–Vice President Biden ruled the representatives out of order and declared, “It is over.” In both cases, the Democratic candidate had already conceded.

So, the “Democrats did it first” argument is bogus.

Instead of threatening to gavel these objections into irrelevance, as Biden did four years ago, Vice President Mike Pence “welcomes” these challenges. Pence’s career is finished, but he could have stood for the Constitution he claims to love and which he swore to defend. However, cowardice is contagious, and no mask was thick enough to protect Pence from the pathogen of fear.

It would be a relief, Nichols continues, to think that these officials all sincerely believe that Trump was robbed of an election.

But we are, in the main, dealing with people who are far worse than true believers. The Republican Party is infested with craven opportunists, the kind of people who will try to tell us later that they were “just asking questions,” that they were “defending the process,” and of course, that they were merely representing “the will of the people.” Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are not idiots. These are men who understand perfectly well what they are doing. Senator Mitt Romney sees it clearly, noting that his GOP colleagues are engaged in “an egregious ploy” to “enhance political ambition.”

And for this reason, there must be a reckoning. I still hear people say that once Trump is gone we should just “move on” for the “good of the nation.” Is that really what the nation needs? I say the nation needs to know the entire truth, and that those who protected Trump from the consequences of his corruption should be named and shamed, at the very least. Of course die-hard Trump supporters will go to their graves loving Dear Leader, but this is for posterity.

Whether Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was the right thing to do is still debatable. But this is not Watergate. Carl Bernstein tells us that this GOP coup attempt is much worse. Those of us old enough to remember Nixon’s impeachment hearings should know this. “The heroes of Watergate were Republicans who would not tolerate Richard Nixon’s conduct,” Bernstein says. That’s hardly the case now.

Trump should be prosecuted for his attempt to overturn a lawful election, and every Republican in Congress supporting him now should also be called to answer for sedition. And let us have a moment of silence for Bill Barr, who must know the whole plot and chose to bail out of his role in it before the plot’s execution. You’ve got a lot of questions to answer, Bill.

We cannot just let this slide. Or it will keep happening.

See also:

Jennier Rubin, The Senate’s coup-staging ‘Dirty Dozen’ shouldn’t be allowed to hold office.

David Frum, Trump Crosses a Bright-Red Line

Richard Hasen, Donald Trump Should Be Prosecuted for His Shakedown of Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger

Marc Caputo, The backstory of Trump’s Georgia call

20 thoughts on “This Perilous Week

  1. It strains credulity to believe that ALL living persons who have been Secretaries of Defense (there is NO current SecDef – only an 'acting') would join an effort led by Dick Cheney to warn the military to not get involved in a coup on behalf of The Donald IF they did not have reason to believe that it was a possibility.  That is frightening shit.

    If President Uncle Joe and the Dem leadership insist on 'looking forward and not backward', the next time it might be an intelligent charismatic demagogue with rePukes in control of both the senate and house.  End game for this experiment in imperfect democracy that we have had going on 250 years. 

  2. I figured it out.  Getting Georgia's presidential election overturned would not keep Trump in office.  So why all the noise about Georgia's presidential election being rife with fraud?
    Answer:  We have an election in GA tomorrow that will determine control of the Senate.  If the R's lose control, the crybabies are gonna scream "See we TOLD you that elections in GA are rigged!!!" And they're gonna keep screaming that for all of 2021.  All of the garbage about GA in the past 4 weeks has been "tilling the field" to plant the seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of that election if D's win.

    • Deep down, I don't think Trump gives a hoo-haw about the runoff elections. He's only thinking for himself. It's safe to assume he's been making similar calls to officials in the other contested states. 

  3. Old Vet said it very well!

    I think tRUMP is going to do as much damage in as many areas as he can until 11:59:59am on January 20th, 2021.

    An attempted military coup would not surprise.  If it was successful, yeah, I'd be surprised.

    An order for an attack on Iran wouldn't surprise me.  If it was successful, I'm not sure I'd be as surprised as in the earlier example.

    An attempted military coup takes a lot of planning and coordination. 

    An  order to attack another country, imo, would be a more simple chain-of-command situation, and easier to accomplish.

    These next 2 weeks and a day will feel like 2 years.

    Even if NOTHING happens. 


  4. Btw:  If Karma feels like he/she/it's (I love saying that fast! 🙂  ) intelligence has been maligned by RepubliKKKLANS & KKKonservatives too much lately, both Democrats in GA will win – giving Joe and Kamala control of both houses of Congress.  YAY!!!

    But how and why would Karma be involved?

    Well, because a few decades ago, GA, in all of its bigoted and moronic magnificence, wanted to make victory for state and national offices by a Black or Brown person in GA as difficult as possible, and so came up with the idea of having to have at least 50% in any general election to win.  Anything less than 50% in the general meant another election a few months later, where the win would go to the individual with the most overall votes – so in other words: democracy.

    Neither Perdon't nor Laughather hit the required 50% mark.   They both had the most votes – but nit quite 50%.

    And so, as a result, the assholes in GA became hoist by their own bigoted petard!


  5. I'm encouraged by the fact that Trump is planning a trip to his golf course in Scotland, on Jan 19. He's getting one foot out the door.

    Let the Proud Boys riot all they want. Law enforcement will take care of them. I've read their hangout in DC, Harrington Hotel, home of Harry's Bar, will be closed.

    • There is extradition from Scotland and no love for Trump there, they say. 

      There isn't extradition from Russia or Saudi Arabia.

      • The First Minister of Scotland declared today that if Trump shows up in Scotland he cannot be admitted. They're restricting travel because of covid.

        • Interesting! Is any country except Russia going to allow Trump to enter on the 19th with the obvious intent of avoiding prosecution? Biden might take offense if a country harbors Trump. That becomes a BFD if you anticipate wanting favors from the US in the next four years. The Saudis will want spare parts for the military toys they've purchased. Trump has given SA everything they wanted but in the future, he can give them nothing. SO will they be loyal to Trump? Turkey is a possibility. If any international court takes exception to Trump's pardon of the Blackwater gang, is travel going to invite arrest at any European airport Trump travels through?  Trump might leave the US forever to avoid prosecution, but the universe where he will have protection may be very small. For a man addicted to the spotlight, that's gonna sting.

  6. The speculation that Trump might go to Scotland rings true for a couple of reasons. First, Trump will play to the media and pretend he intends to 'occupy' the White House in the final days before the inauguration to steal Biden's spotlight. Then 'secretly' he will depart the WH by ground transportation (except the media is on to him) and turn up in Scotland with the full intention of having the global spotlight when the 20th rolls around.

    Second, Trump can't know for sure how quickly NY might drop the (reported) dozens of charges against Trump. 12:01 on the 20th? Might NY demand Trump's 'passport' and effectively ground Trump? So Trump leaving before his immunity from prosecution run out sounds like sleazy Don.

    There are a few problems. The ban on filing criminal charges against the president isn't absolute, isn't in the US Constitution or any law. It's based on a DOJ memo prepared in the Nixon era. So there's nothing to prevent NY from filing charges and grounding Trump on the (just to pick a day) 13th, six days before Trump's term ends. It might or might not hold up in court but if they file, Don has to get it in court and ruled on before the 20th. It's anybody's guess if a ban on Trump leaving the country would be sustained on appeal until the point is moot on the 20th. 

    But if Trump leaves the country to avoid criminal charges that's possibly the worst thing he could do. If he flees and is extradited back to the US, the "flight risk" isn't theoretical – it's an established fact. That means Trump might be jailed in NY until EVERY charge against Trump is resolved. 

    Let the games begin.

  7. The bottom line basis for everything they're doing, from Trump on down (or up, because you can't get any lower than that skunk) is that the GOP has determined it is the only legitimate political party, and the democrats and their voters have no rights when it comes to participation in our democracy — the 81 million votes for Biden don't matter.  And that its just not possible for democrats to legitimately win nationally. When they do it threatens GOP control, and that is a threat against the "American people."  Check out this loon:

    GOP Rep. Warns Of ‘Full-Scale Hot Conflict’ If Republicans Lose Senate

    “We’ve got a major problem in this country where the American people, the regular people out there that are working every day, hardworking Americans, they are getting trampled by a system that is rigged against them,” Roy said.

    That is a true statement.  However the irony, for want of a better way to put it, is it's the republican party that works to ensure the rigging of the system, from voting to the economy, against the working folk.  Maintaining the con is not sustainable over the long haul, and the only way to keep it going is just to straight up invalidate democracy altogether.  That's where we're headed.

  8. The fun begins in a couple of weeks. Trump’s plans to be in Scotland the 19th was denied due to a recent lockdown in that country. Now Iran issued an Interpol arrest for him ( leaving him very few options to hide from prosecution on so many fronts, if the Interpol warrant sticks.

    Might be time to start placing bets in the office pool of where will he hide.

  9. I'm thrilled that Warnock is being called by MSNBC over Loeffler (I'm not sure you could find a better contrast between light and dark, and I don't mean skin color). Ossoff is ahead by a sliver over Perdue. We're close to pulling this off. 

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