Trump Grasping at Final Straws
December 24, 2020
With the final days of his presidency quickly slipping away and the odds of overturning the result of the presidential election having grown infinitesimally small, President Trump is grasping at all remaining options to secure for himself a second term in the White House. Despite there having been no evidence of widespread fraud in the election—as stated by Pentagon officials and Attorney General Bill Barr—President Trump has continued to cling to his claims that the election was stolen from him by malicious actors in the Democratic Party as well as possibly by a foreign nation. The president’s legal team has been working to uncover evidence that there was, in fact, massive fraud in the November 3rd election and have filed dozens of lawsuits based on their claims, but these claims have so far fallen like dominoes in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Still, President Trump is not conceding anytime soon, instead continuing to peddle what are, at this point, completely baseless theories of massive election fraud and discussing with advisers how to retain control of the White House despite having lost. Trump met last weekend with conspiracy theorist and former campaign attorney Sidney Powell, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and numerous aides to discuss holding onto power, in a meeting that quickly turned heated and raucous.
According to multiple reports, President Trump wanted to give Sidney Powell high-level security clearance and name her special counsel to investigate the 2020 election—a move that the president does not have the power to make. The president also reportedly discussed commandeering voting machines to have them inspected by his own team for possible fraud or glitches that could have caused votes to be given to Joe Biden, a move that would be illegal to carry out.
Flynn, a former general who recently received a pardon from President Trump after he lied to the FBI, floated the idea of President Trump invoking martial law and ordering the military to rerun elections in critical swing states won by Joe Biden. Flynn first brought up the idea in an interview with conservative media outlet Newsmax. “You can take military capabilities, you can place them in those states and rerun an election in each of those states,” Flynn said.
The meeting reportedly devolved into a screaming match after top Trump aides, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, pushed back against the ideas, prompting Powell to call Trump’s advisers “quitters.” The idea of declaring martial law was met with swift backlash outside of the White House, including from the president’s own former advisers. “Look, this is appalling. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s unbelievable,” said another of President Trump’s former national security advisers, John Bolton.
President Trump has pushed back against the reports of what happened in the Oval Office meeting, which have been corroborated by multiple sources and media outlets, writing on Twitter that the story about him considering invoking martial law is “fake news.”
In a second meeting held earlier this week in the Oval Office, a group of House conservatives met with President Trump to discuss a long-shot attempt to overturn the election by challenging the votes of state electors when Congress officially tallies up the Electoral College vote on January 6. Roughly a dozen Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani were at the meeting with the president, where they discussed a viable way to block the final certification of votes. Rep. Mo Brooks, who led the Congressional group to the White House, claimed that a growing number of Republicans are beginning to quietly support their effort. “It’s pretty clear that the momentum is growing in support of the objections to states’ submittals of Electoral College votes because of their flawed election systems, and render them unworthy of trust,” Brooks told reporters.
For the challenge of the Electoral College voters to move forward, a senator would have to join a House member in objecting. If both a House member and senator object to the certification, the two Congressional chambers would have to meet separately to discuss the issue, after which a vote would be held to either uphold or strike down the objection.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been imploring Republican senators to allow the certification process to move forward without trying to throw it into disarray. McConnell and others argue that even if the president has a valid point, objecting to the electors will not stop Biden from becoming president, and it could cause Congress to descend into chaos, tarnishing the image of Republicans in the process.
The second-highest ranking Republican senator, John Thune, was blunt about his appraisal of this latest attempt to overturn the election results. “In the Senate, it…will go down like a shot dog,” he said. “I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be.”
In a separate attempt to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, the Trump legal team filed a last-ditch lawsuit asking the US Supreme Court to throw out 110,000 ballots in Pennsylvania, a state Joe Biden won by 80,000 votes. The filing comes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled to throw out the same lawsuit, which argues that tens of thousands of mail-in votes should be rejected because signatures did not exactly match what the state had on file. The Trump campaign is now asking that the US Supreme Court overrule the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision, a move it is unlikely to make, considering that voters did not break any rules or laws as they were written at the time that the election took place.
The Trump campaign’s legal team has not fared well in court thus far, having lost dozens of lawsuits which were quickly dismissed at numerous levels of the judiciary, and despite this latest lawsuit, the election results have no realistic chance of being overturned.
Trump Looking Beyond Presidency
He may still be fighting, but President Trump knows well that his time in office is coming to an end, and he is preparing for what comes after. Previous reports claimed that Trump was planning to run again for president in 2024 if his legal challenges don’t work out, with his campaign kickoff to take place while Joe Biden is administered the presidential oath of office. However, sources told Axios that President Trump has since shifted his thinking and no longer plans to announce such plans anytime soon, although it remains unclear if he would still want to mount another presidential run in four years. Another report claims that President Trump is seeking a possible return to The Apprentice, a TV series starring Donald Trump that turned the New York billionaire into a household name across the US.
Pentagon Halts Biden Briefings
Tensions between Pentagon officials and the Biden transition team erupted after Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller announced his decision to cancel meetings with the president-elect’s transition team for the rest of the year. In a statement, Miller said that the Pentagon and Biden team would be taking a “mutually agreed-upon holiday pause” and restart meetings in the new year. But a Biden spokesman denied any such agreement, saying the defense secretary made the decision unilaterally. “We think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as there’s no time to spare,” Biden transition spokesman Yohannes Abraham said. He went on to claim that the Department of Defense is throwing sand in the gears of the transition out of obedience to President Trump, who says Biden’s election was illegitimate. “There have been many agencies and departments that have facilitated the exchange of information and meetings over the past few weeks,” said Abraham. “But there have been pockets of recalcitrance, and DoD (Department of Defense) is one of them.”
Pence, Biden Get Vaccinated
Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden were both publicly administered Pfizer’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccine in an attempt to reassure the American public that it is safe. “We owe these folks an awful lot,” Biden said of the scientists behind the vaccine and the health-care workers who have been overwhelmed over the course of the pandemic. The president-elect also offered rare praise of the Trump administration for implementing Operation Warp Speed, which helped in the historically rapid development of a viable vaccine. “I also think that it’s worth saying that this is great hope,” Biden said. “I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it’s available, to take a vaccine. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Press Frustrated at Biden Over Hunter Silence
With an investigation into the finances of Joe Biden’s son Hunter ongoing, journalists are becoming frustrated with the Biden team for not providing any answers. While left-leaning media outlets like the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, none of which are seriously covering the story, are called upon by Biden officials at press conferences, more conservative outlets like Fox News are being iced out. Joe Biden and his team have been conspicuously quiet about the investigation into the president-elect’s son’s shady business dealings, but questions are mounting. There are reports that Hunter requested keys from his father to offices he used for his business deals, and there are other pieces of indirect evidence that Joe Biden was aware of, if not directly involved in, his son’s business moves.
In one of the rare instances in which he was asked about his son’s scandals—ironically, on a late-night comedy show—Biden accused those bringing up the issue as engaging in “foul play.” “I am not concerned about any allegations being made against him,” Biden said. “I think it’s kind of foul play. But look, it is what it is and he’s a grown man; he is the smartest man I know.”
Biden Introduces Climate Team
President-elect Joe Biden announced his team for fighting climate change this week, saying, “We literally have no time to waste” in the fight against rising global temperatures. The climate team consists of several Cabinet-level nominees as well as two that will not need Congressional approval. Deb Haaland, a Native American Congresswoman from New Mexico, is his nominee for secretary of the interior; if confirmed, she will be the first Native American in a presidential Cabinet. Biden tapped North Carolina’s top environmental official, Michael Regan, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the first black man in that position, and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to be his energy secretary. Biden also nominated Brenda Mallory to oversee the Council on Environmental Quality and announced that Gina McCarthy would serve as national climate adviser along with Ali Zaidi, who would be her deputy. McCarthy was the EPA administrator under President Obama from 2013–2017.
Barr: No CIA Misconduct
Outgoing US Attorney General Bill Barr said this week that the CIA did not act improperly regarding alleged ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election. Barr said that he was initially concerned over the CIA’s conduct, suspecting that they were spying on the Trump campaign. However, he concluded that the agency “stayed in its lane,” and he did not “see any sign of improper CIA activity.”
President Trump continues to assert that his campaign was indeed spied upon by Obama officials and the CIA in an attempt to sabotage his presidential aspirations. A special counsel is currently investigating the origins of the Russia collusion investigation and whether there were any improprieties involved, with the findings not expected to be released before Joe Biden becomes president.
GOP Challenges Falter Ahead of Runoffs
Republicans in Georgia suffered back-to-back legal defeats this week as they seek to have more restrictive voting rules enforced ahead of the January 5th runoff elections that will decide control of the US Senate. In one case, a federal judge ruled against Republicans who sought to prohibit the use of ballot drop boxes, block the early processing of mail-in ballots, and require stricter protocols for ballot signature verification. A second lawsuit which took aim at an agreement of Democrats and state election officials that relaxed absentee ballot signature requirements was also tossed by a judge.
Polls show that the race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, and Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock, is extremely tight and that every vote will make a difference. President Trump is planning to travel to Georgia to rally for the Republican candidates on January 4, a day before the election.