Monday, September 20, 2021

The Big Lie, Con't

This month's Bob Woodward/Robert Costa Trump book "Peril" continues to be a hot property in pundit circles because of the salaciousness of Tang the Conqueror's final few months, but as Greg Sargent points out, the book also details the efforts by the Trump GOP to explicitly use loopholes in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to have VP Mike Pence openly steal the 2020 election.

The revelations come from the new book “Peril,” by The Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The headline: Two GOP senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah — took Trump’s lies about election fraud seriously enough to devote real resources to vetting them.

But for our purposes, the more important revelation involves how those lies were supposed to interlock with the broader scheme cooked up by Trump and his co-conspirators.

The key takeaway: Gaping holes in the Electoral Count Act — the 1887 law that governs how Congress counts electoral college votes — were central to the chances that their scheme might succeed.

The book recounts that four days before Jan. 6 — when Congress counts the electoral votes — Lee received a White House memo outlining how Vice President Pence could scuttle the process.

Because Republicans in several swing states had voted to send sham electors for Trump to Congress, it argued, Pence could simply set aside the actual electors from those states for President Biden. Both sets would be invalid, and Pence could count the remaining electors, designating Trump winner of a majority of them.

Though the memo ultimately advised against this process, it did suggest it as a potential option. And it did recommend that Pence use objections by GOP lawmakers to Biden’s electors to delay the process. The book reports that Pence explored this idea before rejecting it.

Let’s be clear: The fact that these ideas were considered this seriously was made possible in part by the absurd ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act, or ECA.

First, because the ECA provides that a state can appoint new electors if the election “failed” — which is defined very vaguely — the idea was to use “election fraud” lies to declare that popular voting “failed” to render a clear outcome. GOP legislatures could then appoint electors for Trump, regardless of their state’s popular votes.

Second, because the ECA makes it easy for Congress to object to electors — only one lawmaker from each chamber can force votes on whether to count them — the idea was to get congressional Republicans to invalidate Biden’s electors in key states. Trump would prevail with a majority of remaining electors.

Third, because the ECA does not clearly define the vice president’s role (as president of the Senate) as purely ceremonial, the idea was to get Pence to somehow rule in favor of the objections to electors, or at least to delay the count.

That would either result in Trump prevailing with a majority of electors, or buy enough time for GOP legislatures to send rogue electors. Remember, getting Pence to rig or delay the count was precisely what Trump incited the Jan. 6 mob to accomplish.

In a great new draft paper, election law scholar Richard L. Hasen warns that we face “serious risk” of “election subversion” or an “actual stolen election.” Hasen discusses reforms that could avert such scenarios, which will also be the topic of a conference on Friday.

In the last election, no GOP legislature appointed rogue electors, a majority of Congress voted to uphold Biden’s electors, and Pence ultimately backed away from the plot. But some GOP legislators did consider this scheme, around 150 congressional Republicans did vote to subvert Biden’s electors, and Pence did explore the outer limits of what he might do for Trump.
It certainly looks like the sole reason we're not stuck in a successful Trump coup right now is because Mike Pence got cold feet.  There's not any doubt anymore that this was Trump's plan since November 6th and Pence failed to execute.

That's it. The Republic was spared because Pence is a coward.

Needless to say, the Dems have to fix the ECA or Trump (or worse) will steal the election in 2024. They continue to set the stage for doing just that well ahead of the next election.

The Wisconsin Republican leading the state’s partisan inquiry into the 2020 election results on Monday warned election clerks that they would face subpoenas if they did not cooperate and defended the investigation’s legitimacy by declaring that he was not seeking to overturn President Biden’s victory in the state.

“We are not challenging the results of the 2020 election,” Michael Gableman, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice overseeing the investigation, argued in a video posted on YouTube. The inquiry, he said, “may include a vigorous and comprehensive audit if the facts that are discovered justify such a course of action.”

The video from Mr. Gableman comes after he and Wisconsin’s Republican legislative leaders have faced increasing criticism from both their party’s far-right and from Democrats. The right has accused Mr. Gableman of not doing enough to push lies about the 2020 election propagated by former President Donald J. Trump. Democrats have painted the $680,000 inquiry into the election as a waste of state resources and a distraction from other needed business.

Mr. Gableman was assigned to look into Mr. Trump’s false claims that the state’s election was stolen from him by Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, nearly three months ago. The five-minute video released Monday was the first extensive public statement Mr. Gableman has made outlining the scope and aim of his investigation.

The Republicans’ continuing effort to re-examine the 2020 results in Wisconsin comes as Trump allies elsewhere have gone to great lengths to undermine Mr. Biden’s victory. Arizona Republicans are near the end of a monthslong review of ballots in Maricopa County. Pennsylvania Republicans last week approved subpoenas for driver’s license and partial Social Security numbers for every voter in the state. And 18 states, including Texas this month, have passed laws this year adding new voting restrictions.

In recent weeks, Trump-allied conservatives in Wisconsin have shown public frustration at the pace and transparency of Mr. Gableman’s investigation. This month, a group led by David A. Clarke Jr., a former Milwaukee County sheriff who has been a prominent purveyor of false claims about the election, held a rally at the State Capitol in Madison to protest what it argued was insufficient devotion by Mr. Gableman and the state’s Republican leaders to challenging the 2020 results.

Mr. Gableman said on Monday that his investigation would require the municipal officials who operate Wisconsin’s elections to prove that voting was conducted properly. He said local clerks would be required to obey any subpoenas he might issue.

Election clerks in Milwaukee and Green Bay ignored previous subpoenas issued by the Republican chairwoman of the Assembly’s elections committee for ballots and voting machines. Mr. Vos had declined to approve those subpoenas.

“The responsibility to demonstrate that our elections were conducted with fairness, inclusivity and accountability is on the government and on the private, for-profit interests that did work for the government,” Mr. Gableman said. “The burden is not on the people to show in advance of an investigation that public officials and their contractors behaved dishonestly.”
Two important points here.
First, the declaration that Wisconsin Republicans "aren't trying to overturn Biden's election" is important in the context that the goal is 2022 and especially 2024.

Second, good government practices or not, the assumption that election officials in a state must prove they held the election and tabulated the results fairly, that is, the burden of proof is on election officials to prove they did not cheat, is wildly destructive, anti-democratic and authoritarian. It's the kind of things dictators say right before they suspend such elections as "corrupt" and seize power.

To start at "Elections are rigged" as a social construct is one thing. To do that as a legal maxim, well, that's how you end up not being a modern democracy anymore.

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