Maybe Trump Really Is Never Going To Leave

Now that Rayne has you all festive for the holidays, I am gonna leave you with one more little nugget of joy. Trump really is planning on not leaving even if he loses badly to Biden. I have kind of poo poohed this kind of talk, but this morning on Morning Joe, there was a discussion with former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth and Tom Rogers, a journalist and original founder of both CNBC and MSNBC. These are two very smart and credible people, and they are pretty convincing. If you can find a video clip of their appearance, post the link and I’ll add it in to the post, it is harrowing.

But they have an article out together now in Newsweek entitled “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President”. Also harrowing, and they are convinced that this is really Trump’s plan.

Wirth and Rogers lay out two paths they expect Trump to take. The first is the obvious one pretty much everybody is aware of, severe voter suppression and goon poll watchers challenging voters pretty much anywhere and everywhere, along with claiming fraud as to the vote by mail. But it is the second path that is truly frightening.

This spring, HBO aired The Plot Against America, based on the Philip Roth novel of how an authoritarian president could grab control of the United States government using emergency powers that no one could foresee. Recent press reports have revealed the compilation by the Brennan Center at New York University of an extensive list of presidential emergency powers that might be inappropriately invoked in a national security crisis. Attorney General William Barr, known for his extremist view of the expanse of presidential power, is widely believed to be developing a Justice Department opinion arguing that the president can exercise emergency powers in certain national security situations, while stating that the courts, being extremely reluctant to intervene in the sphere of a national security emergency, would allow the president to proceed unchecked.

With this, Trump has begun to lay the groundwork for the step-by-step process by which he holds on to the presidency after he has clearly lost the election:

1. Biden wins the popular vote, and carries the key swing states of Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by decent but not overwhelming margins.

2. Trump immediately declares that the voting was rigged, that there was mail-in ballot fraud and that the Chinese were behind a plan to provide fraudulent mail-in ballots and other “election hacking” throughout the four key swing states that gave Biden his victory.

3. Having railed against the Chinese throughout the campaign, calling Biden “soft on China,” Trump delivers his narrative claiming the Chinese have interfered in the U.S. election.

4. Trump indicates this is a major national security issue, and he invokes emergency powers, directing the Justice Department to investigate the alleged activity in the swing states. The legal justification for the presidential powers he invokes has already been developed and issued by Barr.

5. The investigation is intended to tick down the clock toward December 14, the deadline when each state’s Electoral College electors must be appointed. This is the very issue that the Supreme Court harped on in Bush v. Gore in ruling that the election process had to be brought to a close, thus forbidding the further counting of Florida ballots.

6. All four swing states have Republican control of both their upper and lower houses of their state legislatures. Those state legislatures refuse to allow any Electoral College slate to be certified until the “national security” investigation is complete.

7. The Democrats will have begun a legal action to certify the results in those four states, and the appointment of the Biden slate of electors, arguing that Trump has manufactured a national security emergency in order to create the ensuing chaos.

8. The issue goes up to the Supreme Court, which unlike the 2000 election does not decide the election in favor of the Republicans. However, it indicates again that the December 14 Electoral College deadline must be met; that the president’s national security powers legally authorize him to investigate potential foreign country intrusion into the national election; and if no Electoral College slate can be certified by any state by December 14, the Electoral College must meet anyway and cast its votes.

9. The Electoral College meets, and without the electors from those four states being represented, neither Biden nor Trump has sufficient votes to get an Electoral College majority.

10. The election is thrown into the House of Representatives, pursuant to the Constitution. Under the relevant constitutional process, the vote in the House is by state delegation, where each delegation casts one vote, which is determined by the majority of the representatives in that state.

11. Currently, there are 26 states that have a majority Republican House delegation. 23 states have a majority Democratic delegation. There is one state, Pennsylvania, that has an evenly split delegation. Even if the Democrats were to pick up seats in Pennsylvania and hold all their 2018 House gains, the Republicans would have a 26 to 24 delegation majority.

12. This vote would enable Trump to retain the presidency.

Is this nuts? Sure. Is it possible? Yes, given who and what Trump and Barr are, it may well be.

208 replies
    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m sure bmaz appreciates it. Happy Fourth to everybody. Let’s hope it’s not the last one.

  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump cheats at golf, on his taxes, with his wives. He steals from his golf course shops and from the federal government. He lies to his wives, lovers, kids, the House, Senate, and the American people. Most of all, he lies to himself. He coddles up to Valdimir Putin, waiting for a biscuit and rub behind the ear.

    Leaving the presidency means exposing himself to criminal liability and exposing his house-of-cards businesses to investigation and potential bankruptcy. What investigations don’t take from his leisure businesses, Covid-19 might ruin. His $400,000 federal pension wouldn’t pay for his golf. A Tony Blair-level of chicken dinner speaking fees (US$40 million or so a year) would merely irritate his ego.

    I’d say the odds of him risking everything to stay in office are overwhelmingly in favor. Everything is already at risk if he leaves.

    • P J Evans says:

      Biden is close in Texas, and getting closer in Kansas (!), so it’s possible that he can win by enough to make it a no-win situation for Trmp.

  2. madwand says:

    It is why an overwhelming victory both popular and electoral and retaining the house and regaining the senate is essential to countering this narrative. An overwhelming victory repudiates any lies they cook up to justify staying.

    • bmaz says:

      This was discussed in their appearance on Morning Joe, and even that may not be enough if you play their scenario out to its conclusion. The Senate is not the issue for this, it is the House, see paragraphs 10 and 11.

      • madwand says:

        This argument assumes things remain tranquil, i’m not sure they would in a truly overwhelming Dem victory if the will of the people were so obviously and cynically thwarted.

        I have actually done the thought experiment of what would happen if I went to the polls and a bunch of armed goons were outside and trying to intimidate me. My vote is my own business, leave me alone, and keep walking is my solution. But make sure you vote.

        • Lee Russell says:

          Interfering with someone attempting to vote is a federal crime- document, document, document.

      • Marinela says:

        Seen this article before. The issue in the house scenario is a technicality but it is the only play Trump has to stay in power if he looses.

        So the solution about the grass roots activism state protections, this is the aspect I could not understand what can be done about it. It only works if the current WH administration follows rules, norms but they are not going to do any of that.

      • Wm. Boyce says:

        That’s very interesting. Masha Gesson, the investigative journalist, said the need is for an overwhelming victory for Mr. Biden to sweep away the creature and his administration. There aren’t a lot of people in government who like him, they mostly fear him, and in that instance he’d get no help “staying on.”

        • P J Evans says:

          I was reading commentary elseweb that much of the IC wants him out; they don’t trust him with anything.

    • bmaz says:

      Ruth!! Thank you, and it has been inserted into the post. Also, welcome to comments, please join in often.

  3. mrjantz says:

    Could democrats nip this argument in the bud if Biden wins Florida and NC? In other words, does this argument rely on the rules and legislatures of the four key swing states? This does sound really terrible because it seems so plausible. I’m just trying to understand the limits of the argument.

    • JackZ says: weighed in on this today. The entire post is long but here’s a key part:

      It’s predicated on factual inaccuracies: For example, step number 6 is “All four swing states have Republican control of both their upper and lower houses of their state legislatures. Those state legislatures refuse to allow any Electoral College slate to be certified until [a] ‘national security’ investigation is complete.” The problem here is that state legislatures in those four states don’t have power to decide whether or not election results are certified. In the four states the authors mention, that power is vested in the governor (PA), the state elections commission (WI), the secretary of state (MI), and the secretary of state in the presence of the governor and state AG (AZ). The AG of Arizona is a Republican, and three of the six election commissioners in Wisconsin are Republicans, but all of the other folks named here are Democrats, and would not be influenced by dubious “investigations.” The four Republicans named probably wouldn’t be either.

      • Adam Lang says:

        Except in all of those states, IIUC, the legislature could pass laws or constitutional amendments changing who has the right to certify election results.

        • john in denver says:

          In order to “pass a law,” the legislatures would need to act AND governors would need to go along. I don’t know about others, but in Arizona, the legislature has a limited session … and for 2020, the legislature adjourned on May 26, 2020.

          If you are going to speculate, you need to demonstrate plausibility all the way along.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there, here is some “plausibility” for you: Special sessions of the AZ legislature can be initiated by either the Governor or the legislature itself. If you are going to blow shit, try not to do it where people who know and live where you are yammering about actually live.

          You appear to be a crank, but do actually seem to be in Denver.

    • J. H. Frank says:

      It’s a good thing for Trump’s folks that the groundwork for using “civilians” against other citizens has been laid throughout these BLM protests.

      Note how many drive-through attacks have been made by folks that make sure to speak the magic words “I was in fear for my life.”

      As far as I know, the guy that drove through the crowd in CHOP and -shot someone- before running to the police (with his handgun re-concealed!) was charged with a single count of first-degree assault and was immediately out on bail.

    • BobCon says:

      That’s basically my thinking.

      I think one thing that has the bad guys pondering is that Trump and Barr tried to use the DC protests to get the military on their side, and they balked.

      How this plays out in a true coup, which is what this would be, is obviously uncertain. But there would be a million people in the streets of DC, and probably giant numbers jn Austin, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Columbus, Lansing….

      To be honest, I’m not sure this would play out the way Trump would want. And in the end, I think he would be too terrified to try. I hope.

  4. person1597 says:

    “Yeah, mmm, yeah
    Do you know that some folks know about it, some don’t
    “Some will learn to shout it, some won’t
    But sooner or later baby, here’s a ditty
    Say you’re gonna have to get right down to the real nitty gritty”

  5. rosalind says:

    “oh goody! a bmaz thread! need something light and fun to counter all the crap and…oh – fuck – me”

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, yeah, I still occasionally revert back to the old school non-sports and non-music bmaz writing. Sorry!

    • civil says:

      Not quite light, but maybe fun in a schadenfreude sense: Donald Trump’s brother filed for a TRO against niece Mary Trump re: the release of her book on the Trump family, and Mary Trump’s brief in response alleges that the older Trump siblings defrauded her and her brother years ago when the older Trumps got the younger Trumps to sign a settlement agreement. She says that she found out about the financial fraud through NYT reporting in 2018. From her affadavit:
      “The New York Times’s detailed analysis and investigation revealed for the first time that the valuations on which I had relied in entering into the Settlement Agreement, and which were used to determine my compensation under the Agreement, were fraudulent. I relied on the false valuations provided to me by my uncles and aunt, and would never have entered into the Agreement had I known the true value of the assets involved. …”
      Ted Boutrous, who is representing Mary Trump, is arguing that the TRO would constitute unlawful prior restraint for several reasons, including that “The Settlement Agreement Was Procured By Fraud And Is Unenforceable”:

  6. flatulus says:

    I shall book a flight to D.C. in time for Jan.20th to join in the throngs massing to drag his gnarly ass out.

    OT Bmaz, is that a Samoyed in your illustration? Have had two and they remain dear to me.

    • bmaz says:

      Wait….which illustration? Irrespective of that question, yes, I, and then we after we got married, have had three over a period of about 36 years. The most recent one, Kiki, passed away last October. Now we have a Doodle, but are looking to get another Sammy too.

      • flatulus says:

        A couple of weeks ago there was an illustration, not a photo, which depicted you along with your dog. Mine were found running wild in Washington State (Pearl) and a second Keisha, a rescue from Bay Area Samoyed Rescue. What loving creatures.

        • bmaz says:

          Samoyeds are simply magnificent. Beautiful inside and out. Seriously have you ever seen a kinder and happier breed of canine? I have not. They are mischievous for sure, but pure joy.

  7. John Forde says:

    Can Pelosi use the same tactic, delay? Maybe after Jan 2, 2021 some of those states will no longer be in Republican hands. What forces her timeline?

    • bmaz says:

      Unnecessary. It already goes to the new Congress. But that may not be enough if you follow their logic in the article out. See the last three paragraphs.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Those last three are the truly frightening ones. Is there any way to highlight that text?

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I assumed until reading this that the Democrat majority would make the House a safe landing place in such a situation. It wasn’t until I read those final graphs that I understood why it is anything but.

    • BobCon says:

      If we are talking crazy scenarios, she controls the House police and could block a vote.

      We’re talking really crazy stuff, mind you.

      Much of that police force is from Prince George’s County and owes their jobs to Steny Hoyer’s patronage.

      Of course, if we get to that stage, it is coming down to a situation like the popes of Rome vs. the Avignon Popes.

      • bmaz says:

        What? There are no “House Police”. Seriously, there is nothing but a Sergeant At Arms, and if you think he is going to start “policing” and arresting anybody, much less government officials, you are nuts. Appears the current guy is Paul Irving.

        • BobCon says:

          There are about 2,000 cops in the US Capitol Police. Technically they are one force, but in practice half report to the House SOA and half to the Senate side.

          Like I said, a large number are from Prince George’s County and are Steny Hoyer patronage types. Back when Frank Wolf was the chair of the House Administration committee he was the guy who funnelled a bunch to the force, but he’s been gone for a while. Curiously, there used to be quite a few with Boston accents — for some reason, when Joe Moakley chaired the Rules Committee, he was able to get a lot of South Boston guys jobs there, probably as a part of favor trading. The fact that Moakley was an O’Neil protege probably helped. When a crazed gunman tried to break into Tom DeLay’s office, a cop who was killed was married to Joe Moakley’s neice.

          A lot of them are regular uniformed officers and handle everyday security stuff, traffic control, not vastly different from a regular beat cop, but they also have undercover cops and detectives, as well as sharpshooters and all of the other overblown functions of modern overfunded police forces.

          Any talk of them seizing control of assembled members of the House of Reps to prevent a vote on president would be far fetched, of course, like the way the city guard in Game of Thrones was used to block Ned Stark from carrying out the arrest of Cersei for the murder of the king. But then all of this scenario is more of a cautionary tale, I think — the biggest point the Democrats probably should take is to start planning for all kinds of contingencies and figuring out who they can trust.

        • bmaz says:

          Half of the Capitol Police “report” to the House, and half to the Senate? As you know, they are not some kind of affirmative policing body as opposed to just protective.

        • BobCon says:

          Yes, they are very much a patronage force, maybe not as extreme as Boss Tweed guys, but they are under the direction of the speaker and Hoyer.

          In this scenario, which again I’ll say is far fetched, the vote goes to the House. If Pelosi orders the police to lock down the chamber, they will lock it down. If she refuses to hold a vote, if she pushes through a rules package that blocks the GOP from moving forward, they will enforce order and keep outsiders from moving in to the chamber.

          Look, all of this is crazy. In theory, the cops could revolt, in the same way that realistically all kinds of parts of the federal government could decide to obstruct a Trump takeover based on overriding the state results. But it’s a fact of history that the Capitol Hill cops take their independence seriously, and don’t answer to anyone but the political leadership of the branch they are assigned to.

          Hell, in theory, the Democrats could refuse to seat enough Republican members to throw the balance of state delegations their way and win that way. The House has the authority to deny seats to members in the event of contested elections, and if Trump is throwing around claims of fraud, in theory the House Democrats could do the same to the GOP. Is this crazy? Yes, but not wildly so compared to Trump trying to nullify multiple state results.

          All of this is crazy. We really don’t know where it would lead.

          I think the last time the House used this authority was when it seated Frank McCloskey. There was a close election, the Indiana Secretary of State certified the Republican as the victor, but when the House went into session the Democrats refused to certify the election, launched their own investigation, and many months later decided to give the seat to McCloskey instead.

          If it went to this level, you can bet that there would be a situation like when there were rival colleges of cardinals electing rival popes backed by rival rulers, and it all comes down to who can marshall what kind of support. You would probably have a second Congress established with a second set of members, each excommunicating the other just like the Pope in Avignon would condemn the Pope in Rome, and vice versa.

          I truly think if Trump went this way, which is always possible considering his state of mind, we can’t really game out where it would go.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Exactly. It would be pure and utter chaos, probably resulting in a civil war – the cherry on the cake of misrule.

        • Fenix says:

          But would Pelosi actually play that card? She’s been historically reluctant, like when she declared impeachment of W was “off the table” in 2006 and she dragged her feet on impeachment of Trump as well, then limited the scope when she finally relented.

  8. ThomasH says:

    A truly scary and, unfortunately, plausible scenario!

    I’m sure that something like this is being considered by trump and Barr. I wonder though about how much traction they have in the event they try to bring the plan to fruition? It seems nakedly corrupt (of course, almost everything that has transpired In the past three and a half years is almost as self-serving and vile!) that it might, finally, be that “bridge too far.” These events might precipitate the awakening of the branches of the military to flex their muscle as a response. They seem to be showing signs of exasperation with the current commander in chief.

    • ThomasH says:

      Should’ve read the article before commenting: my point was addressed in the last few paragraphs.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    This is really the only way DJT pulls this off, and as noted above his current occupation is the only reason he’s not behind bars already.

    This would require a whole lot of blind GOP support, which in the current purged state of that party is quite likely. They see the path to permanent power as well.

    However, once January rolls around a new Congress would be seated which is where the GOTV and voter suppression concerns need to be addressed. If this plays out as I see it described here DJT will be POTUS but will get nowhere on any of the GOP priorities because Congress will not pay for it or support it in any other way. There is only so far he can go on EOs in the face of legislative opposition.

      • P J Evans says:

        See also the recent stories about the possibility of Thomas and Alito retiring before November.

        • Yargelsnogger says:

          I`t doesn’t seem like they would have time to jam any more justices through, let alone two. But if they try, it would be a great time for Pelosi to send up an impeachment of Bill Barr and maybe Trump again to keep them busy on that. The legal rope-a-dope they like to play can be used by both sides to kill time until after the election.

        • bmaz says:

          That discussion is in relation to Trump not leaving and being in office another four more years. And if one or more retires and or dies before January 2021, I guarantee you McConnell will push through any nominees. He has already said and promised he would.

      • Rugger9 says:

        What’s different here is who the resigning justices are, so it’s more of a like-for-like replacement.

        Of course McConnell has already forgotten about the “Biden Rule” used to deny Garland his seat, but IIRC, that nomination was never withdrawn.

  10. John Forde says:

    All 4 states have Democrats as SOS. Could one or more of them present a strong enough case to their legislatures that Biden’s win is so clean and decisive that R party loyalty is not worth destroying democracy?

    • Rugger9 says:

      IIRC it was Katherine Harris in FL for the 2000 election that certified the result early before all the votes were counted, which then pitched it to the SCOTUS for a small handful of counties instead of the full state (which Gore won after the wrong results were certified).

      Now, the answer to your question depends upon how the elections law is structured for each state for how certifying the outcome is done and when. The details are important and will doubtless be leveraged by AG Barr.

      GOP Trump loyalty will need to be assumed until proven otherwise. The national GOP is also highly compromised by the Russian interference in 2016, and there are lots of ties and coinkydinks to dig into there. So, it’s as much for their criminal liability as their political survival.

  11. Vicks says:

    Think of the ratings!
    The plot sounds exciting enough for Trump to consider for next season.
    In all seriousness, haven’t we learned that Trump blurts out whatever is on his mind, and when he accuses his “enemies” of cheating, lying, or stealing it’s simply a dump of a seriously malfunctioning conscious?
    Trump has more that laid the groundwork (just as he did in 2016) to start an uproar over voter fraud should he lose the election.
    The decent people of this country have to out think this, AND cut off any other potential strategies to keep that thing in power.
    I have seen the term “think like a rat f*cker multiple times on this site and think it is quite fitting in this case.
    Two points
    1. In this case I would assume they would need to show proof of voter fraud? Since there is no proof fraud exists they would have to find a way to manufacturer it.
    2. Forgetting what I just wrote about Trump’s projecting, this is pretty damn obvious and could be a distraction, or it could be a trap. One example, the good guys “figure out” how they are planting fraudulent votes, the trap springs and instead it looks like Dems got caught red handed doing what Trump has been warning the country about.
    I will leave the espionage angles to the professionals. best thing I/we can do is get out the damn vote.
    The bigger the win, the less chance of the rats having their day.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      “Since there is no proof that voter fraud exists, they would have to manufacture it.” That is their game! Every election includes a few ballots submitted wrongly by accident. Barr and friends will be snuffling for these like vampire bats so they can trot them out as evidence of Dem bad faith. I’m (obviously) not a lawyer, but I wish I had pursued that path when it first sang to me, just so I could join the squadron opposing them this fall.

  12. jaango says:

    Is this another version of another “propagandized Democracy” emanating from the “center” and not from the “center-left”?

    Trump will leave in January, 2021, and as appropriate.

    Doing otherwise, Trump would cause a disaster as it pertains to a “white nation” or seeming from the establishment of a “authoritarian” regime. Therefore, the only avenue available to Trump would have to incorporate his “self-deportation to Russia.”

    And why? Today there are over 7,200 Latino Elected and Appointed Officials currently leading the political charge among Chicanos and Native Americans. Therefore, America’s “indigenous future” will not be denied.

  13. OldTulsaDude says:

    If this is indeed the plan, it is Barr’s plan as Trump is too simpleminded to do anything other than follow Barr’s directions about what he is supposed to do next. And if so, Nancy Pelosi will be left once more tilting at windmills after-the-fact . The Democrats need to learn they need to bring more than just good intentions to a gunfight.

  14. Savage Librarian says:

    I read about this a few days ago and filed it wherever all my nightmares go, presumably in a Pandora’s box facsimile. So, I am unsettled but not surprised to see it has hypostatized
    here. The good thing is that it can now be discussed and analyzed with the possibility to consider potential solutions to this scenario.

    Would unfaithful electors have just as much sway here as they do in the Electoral College? Could electors from the state delegations violate the majority vote, subject to some kind of fine, perhaps? If not, why not, since they seem to be able to do this in the Electoral College?

    What would happen if there was the unlikely circumstance of a tie vote, 25 – 25? Who would break the tie?

    Also, something that might be worth throwing in the mix is what would happen in the event another pandemic had an unexpected impact on voters casting votes?

  15. Dopey-o says:

    Wirth’s article is good, but i noticed 1 omission. Trump faces a very uncertain future after he leaves the White House, but Putin’s plans for Russia and Europe could be unmasked by a Biden DOJ. Putin needs european currency to keep his oligarchs happy and to keep the russian masses from taking to the streets. He has a plan for that, i assume.
    Putin needs to keep Trump in the Oval Office. He will not sit out the 2020 election.

  16. campion says:

    I share the worry and have felt this same panic once before with Nixon. Even so I issue a note of caution on this one. Though I have always found “empty wheel” to stand for information that actually registers, this isn’t it. The media is already filled with so many misdirection plays that the people are at a loss to know which fires in this troubled world they are to attend to. We must fully understand what dangers are actually at stake and where to focus the attention. Frankly the ongoing catastrophes demand too much of us to allow for rank speculation–beyond something we fully acknowledge–say Lena Wertmueller’s knowing, “OH YEAH…” from “Seven Beauties.”

    • bmaz says:

      “Though I have always found “empty wheel” to stand for information that actually registers, this isn’t it. The media is already filled with so many misdirection plays that the people are at a loss to know which fires in this troubled world they are to attend to. We must fully understand what dangers are actually at stake and where to focus the attention.”

      Well, I have no idea who you think “we” and/or “us” are Kemosabe, but here are a couple of thoughts:

      1) The blog itself is Emptywheel. One word and a capital E.

      2) We write what we want, and really have no concerns whatsoever about what “registers” with you at any given moment.

      3) Hilariously, you squawk about “misdirection”, but “you” seem to be the one “misdirecting” here.

      PS – And by the way, neither I, nor the “Emptywheel blog” endorsed said opinion, it was simply reported as having been made by others. The others being Tim Wirth and Tom Rogers, who are voices of substance and credibility, even if they are only opining. For you to act like the subject is not worth discussion (something I “might” have thought a while back), makes me chuckle, but press on.

    • ducktree says:

      “. . . to know which fires in this troubled world they are to attend to.”

      Some fires are destructive; some fires bake bread and warm hearths. To which are you attending?

  17. klynn says:

    The important point made in the Morning Jo clip is the crucial advise given to prevent either scenario from happening. “…create a vast citizen firewall from city level to state level across the country…” We need to direct our talents here at EW and turn away from “helplessness and doom” to a proactive organizing effort of a national grassroots citizen firewall that protects the election. Honestly, I can think of no better way to celebrate the 4th of July than kicking off the effort to organize and grow this national citizen firewall.

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    As they say, just like a bad penny. Guess who’s back?! Remember who saved a seat for Natalia Veselnitskaya at the infamous Magnitsky Act hearing on June 14, 2016? The person whose husband, Lanny Wiles, worked for Rinat Akhmetshin. And, of course, we all know that Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin were both at the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

    You remember her, don’t you?! Susie Wiles. Remember, too, she was a good friend of Roger Stone’s, for years. Maybe she still is. And Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) is delighted. Not so much Ron DeSantis, though. I’m no fan of DeSantis but I have to say that I think his instincts are right about Susie Wiles.

    “DeSantis engineered a Trump campaign aide’s ouster. Now she’s back” – 7/2/20
    “Trump’s decision to reinstate Susie Wiles to his campaign’s good inner circle follows months of behind-the-scenes efforts to bring her back after she was exiled at the demand of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had her cast out of the president’s good graces in September.”

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thanks, SL, for the backfill. I read the same piece about Susie Wiles; my hackles rose but I couldn’t place why. I appreciate you filling in my blank memory spaces. I think this is salient.

    • FL Resister says:

      In May 2019 it was announced Russians had successfully hacked into voter records of two Florida counties. Rick Scott and DeSantis and Rubio all know which ones but that’s being kept secret from the public.
      By September DeSantis forced Wiles out over Scott’s objections. There’s no love lost there as the transition from Scott as Governor to DeSantis was not a smooth one.
      While generally awful and feckless with pandemic management, DeSantis has passed Democratic-friendly environmental measures upon first taking office in ‘18 and has just proposed public school teacher raises.
      Wiles knows all about the Russian hacks and may quite possibly serve as a Roger Stone-like intermediary to see that Republicans win Florida.

  19. dashc says:

    This scenario sounds horrible. Makes winning the Senate and keeping the House that much more important. Controlling Congress would make this scenario less likely as Trump would immediately be impeached, tried and convicted. An ugly process for an ugly human.

    • bmaz says:

      Am not saying Wirth and Rogers are necessarily correct, but they are extremely wired in and credible voices. This is an opinion piece, and we shall see what the future holds. But, again, if you play their scenario forward, no, there is no guarantee to Senate conviction, as that requires 2/3 vote.

      • dashc says:

        agreed. having groups like the Lincoln Project attacking weak spots in the Senate could be helpful. And those that did not vote to convict last time, and now have gone through the Covid catastrophe, major recession and potential electoral coup may have a change of heart. You can only hope!

        • bmaz says:

          Exactly, and seconded. I really did think twice about posting this, but these are not randos, they are informed voices. Time will tell, but this thinking is escaping blog comments and going mainstream, and that is notable.

        • Robin Harper says:

          This is probably a stupid question, so I apologize in advance…I was just reading that McConnell and the Republicans are ‘telling’ Trump to get it together by September, or he’s ‘on his own’. (I assume that means no money/assistance from the RNC for his campaign.) If this is true, would that encourage Barr to move toward this scenario, in order to keep the Republican party under his/Trump’s control? It has been mentioned that the Republicans have as much to hide re ties to Russia as Trump, so to have the Republicans ‘stand up’ to Trump seems…odd. Especially after all of the groveling they’ve been doing since Jan. 2017. It just feels like there’s so much going on behind the scenes that we really need to know about, things that are going to gobsmack us when they hit the light of day.

          Again, I apologize if this is just beyond a stupid question…I’m just an average old woman, not stupid, but not nearly as bright/astute as the people associated with Emptywheel.

        • Kat says:

          Do you think that talking widely and loudly about this possibility in the public sphere would serve to inoculate the body politic against this happening? If people are warned that he may be planning this and each step towards it coming under scrutiny — do you think it would help?
          And the “firewall” mentioned — do you mean overwhelming victory at the polls and getting into the streets if he tries to pull this?
          Thank you for your work.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, and that was precisely why I posted this. Not that I necessarily believe it will happen, but the more people understand even remote potentialities, the better equipped they will be to fend off any nonsense from Team Trump and Barr if it ever does occur.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Speculation this may be. But it is entirely consistent with Trump’s world view. Everything’s already on the line for him, anyway. And since he doesn’t understand how government works, he won’t hesitate to break more of it. He will also worry about appearing to be “man enough,” now that Putin has engineered another long extension to his presidency-for-life.

        • dashc says:

          since we are well past the point of “anything is possible”, further along that I thought was even remotely possible, we have to be prepared for any eventual attack, maneuver, hail mary. Appreciate all the posts and all the commentary.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I should think Trump will try several things. Why? Judging by his walk and inability to drink from a glass using one hand, he’s not all that coordinated. You never know what will work or work best. What does work, you probably want to hide it among other reasons (rather like Agatha Christie’s, ABC Murders). You’ll want to deny it, in any case. It’s probably illegal, you may not know why it worked, and you don’t want to admit doing it, until you’re sure you can’t be prosecuted for it.

    When you are challenged or prosecuted, you can claim you did it for the most benign (or for several reasons), while actually doing it for the most wicked. Courts and Trumpistas are likely to let you off, if any one reason was legal. It’s also a marvelous aid in eliciting rationalizations from your supporters, including judges and congresscritters, who know better. You might want to do it again: Putin just cheated himself into a sixteen year extension on his presidency-for-life. (No doubt, he’s sending instructions to Trump for how to follow his lead.) You don’t want to tell your opponent, so as to make it harder for them to defend against. It will likely take several things working in tandem.

    Trump seems most likely to “encourage” multiple, deniable, national, violent defenses of his presidency-for-life, which will be useful cover for all the other things he will be doing to make that a reality. I see him doing that in waves, in sardonic imitation of Covid-19, that reach a crescendo before and after the actual election, and which threaten to revive whenever Trump seems to be losing the inevitable legal battles. The known unknown here, I think, is how much of this the military would swallow before saying, ahem….

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Jared might also vaguely remember something from a business school seminar – or that two-hour one about military ops – that you always need a Plan B. Fortunately, there will be enough Dr. Evils in the background, who dismiss his concerns by misquoting from The Eiger Sanction, to the effect that only defeatists plan for defeat. (Let’s hope that none of them saw Apollo 13.)

  21. John Lehman says:

    “The recent resistance of our military establishment is an encouraging sign and necessary component of the “people’s firewall.” The president has to know there will be overwhelming resistance to any post-election chaos to undermine our constitutional order. He must know that the “people’s firewall” will not yield to lawlessness. He has to be confronted with the reality that The Plot Against America must remain a work of fiction.”

    If this kind of perverted skullduggery is going on the “people’s firewall” must absolutely have the fullest backing of the Military.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Rushmore gig is typically Trump horrific. It’s 23 miles from the nearest hospital – there are only a few in the whole state – and surrounded by thousands of acres of dry-as-tinder national forest. So, hey, let’s cook off fireworks big enough for a national celebration in honor of Stupid. Plus, with all those trees and big heads, no one will be able to tell how many people didn’t show up. What could go wrong?

      • P J Evans says:

        If he wants to be on Rushmore, helicopter him to the top. And leave him there. If he’s as smart and as healthy as he keeps telling us, he should be able to get down on his own.

  22. posaune says:

    Thank you for this post, bmaz. I think it is a service to actually think about this now. Worrisome? absolutely. But worth trying to prepare. I fully trust your judgment on choosing to report on this.

  23. Pajaro says:

    This is a frightening scenario, certainly. I don’t put such scheming past Trump, Barr, and Republican senators. Regarding mobility, there will be no commercial flying to D.C. or anywhere probably, likely there will be CBP checkpoints at state borders. CBP have long auditioned for the brown-shirt role. Recent child separation, detention and making identifying CBP staff a crime are some of the ground work. Then there are the right-wing militias willing to do just about anything for Trump’s recognition. Much of the military might resist, and likely many state guard, even if nationalized. Hope Pelosi has a lot of that dry powder, she will need it.

  24. MattyG says:

    If this becomes to be percieved as the only plausible scenario for a DT win it almost makes you wonder if there is an incentive here for the GOP to manufacture the required narrow Democratic wins themselves so they can point to the fraud and blame it on China etc., It would certainly fit DTs well honed tendency for projection.

  25. Badger Robert says:

    Its a sort of secession, with a plan to use the Constitution to capture Washington, D.C. and the government. Secession with a political First Battle of Bull Run already planned.
    Unless powerful Republicans, Senators and Governors say no, I think its likely. Putin is testing everyone’s fealty right now.
    I don’t know if the major wealth interests would allow that to happen, with the eventual wealth flight that would follow from such events.
    It would cause a major economic contraction, if successful. Which is a clue as to would be in favor of such a plan.

  26. Nehoa says:

    I think it is useful to consider such scenarios now rather than later, so thank you for posting this. A couple of thoughts about how to prepare. First, Democratic governors and SOSes need to prepare against the brownshirt poll “guards.” Warn that intimidation tactics will result in arrests and follow through. Mobilize community watch groups with organized video capture/dissemination programs. Second, work the refs regarding the national emergency ploy. Warn long and loud about how Trump plans to abuse this (again) to bolster the judiciary against letting him do that. Third, Trump could not execute this scenario without Barr. The House needs to go after him relentlessly to keep him on the defensive. I agree that an impeachment proceeding against him is not likely, but make him testify on all of his nefarious activities. I like Ted Lieu’s proposal to fine those who ignore subpoenas.
    If all that fails…take to the streets!

    • OmAli says:

      Have you read Rep Lieu’s proposal? There is whole hell of a lot of wiggle room:

      What the Congressional Inherent Contempt Power Act does:

      Creates a process for dialogue and accommodation between a senior responsible official at an agency or with a private individual, in pursuit of requested documents or witnesses;

      Allows agencies or persons to register objections, and allows Congress to hold public hearings to consider specific objections, where agency officials or persons can make their case;

      Allows the President to register objections and assert executive privilege where appropriate, in writing and directly;

      Allows the Committee to report a resolution of contempt, privileged under Rule XI of the House, to the full House for consideration;

      Allows for the Chairman of the Committee to present the case for passage before the full House, with time allotted for questions from Members on the floor;

      Allows for one floor vote on passage of the resolution of contempt, including the imposition of monetary penalties against the contemnor;

      Caps the total monetary penalties for noncompliance at not more than $100,000;
      One time compliance period of 20 days before levying additional penalties

      Um, that should teach ‘em to defy a subpoena! Honestly, THiS is the proposal? What would happen to ME if I gave a big middle finger to a subpoena?

      There you go. Let THAT be the proposal.

  27. BobCon says:

    I think this is plausible, although I think there are other ugly alternatives, and I lean pretty heavily toward Trump slinking away if he loses.

    One ugly alternative is a passive-agressive de facto attempt to secede by conservative states — governors and legislatures declaring the election invalid, shuttering federal facilities, slowing down highways, and getting state courts to go nuts challenging federal actions.

    I think such a step would stop short of actual secession, but would basically be an expanded version of the Southern governors in the 50s daring the federal government to take over. The point being not so much to win as to cause dissension and chaos. Backing from right wing federal judges would be a nightmare. That wouldn’t help Trump, but they may not care at that point.

    To be honest, though, I think the GOP sees enough fractures before November to put a coup or revolt off the table. McConnell is supposedly eyeing letting at-risk Senators like Collins and Gardner start attacking Trump next month, and I think he is much more likely to see his path forward to be a repeat of 2009-10 than some kind of triple bank shot that blows up in his face. His interest is preserving as many seats as he can for a counterattack a couple of years down the line, not getting Trump reelected.

    Without unified support from the Senate, Fox News, governors like Larry Hogan and Mike DeWine, and big money — and they would all need to be solid ahead of any move — I just don’t see this working. I am much more worried about a unified GOP in 2021 working with the courts to smash Democratic attempts to fix the country.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      McConnell is toast, but the stench of singe hasn’t hit quite yet.
      If the GOP Senate fails to extend the CARES Act by August, and people start getting evicted in September – particularly if there are still rising numbers of COVID cases, then all bets are off.

      Add in unemployment, voter suppression, people losing medical coverage, the Trump administration gutting the ACA, and you have a formula for civil unrest, economic stress, and profound restructuring as a response to system failure.

      Lately, video clips of former Trump voters have been showing up in my YouTube feed. They have clearly thought seriously about how they vote, and it is evident that each has wrestled with the implications of four more years of Donald Trump.

      They already view Trump as illegitimate, so the kind of scenario outlined in this post would only reinforce their sense of outrage. Every NeverTrump voter comes across as a ‘maker’, rather than a ‘taker’.

      I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my forays around government, any call from ‘business’ (i.e., anyone who writes paychecks) gets a red carpet reception when they call to discuss matters that might affect their future ability to keep dispensing paychecks within a jurisdiction.

      Today, business leaders need to recognize that the integrity of election systems profoundly affects the political and economic environments within which they can operate. Or whether they can even operate at all.

      I don’t think American business execs are going to let Trump, or Barr, get away with implementing what would essentially be a path to lawlessness and a mafia/extraction economy. But business leaders need to wake up to the danger, and the sooner the better.

      Although this post is wise to highlight the mendacity of Trump and Barr, in decades of watching political behavior and public opinion, I have never seen this intensity of engagement, the determination to vote, the sums of money being raised (i.e., Amy McGrath in KY!), nor public interest in the electoral process.

      I sense a level of public indignation that is unprecedented. And Trump is blind to the suppressed fury. Which is exactly what I’d expect of a guy who brags about 1,000,000 people coming to Tulsa, only to have 6,200 show up.

      It would not surprise me if Trump and Barr attempt the scenario described in this post. It’s good to discuss it, and build a defensive strategy.

      Given the failure of so many of our government institutions, a lot of push back will have to come from legitimate business. If these businesses are to survive and flourish, then they are going to have to wake up to the key role that elections play in creating the conditions for the kind of legal, political, and economic system in which they have a shot at being able to flourish.

  28. Kool Moe says:

    If the current administration actually attempted to engineer something so despicable and…’swampy’, I honestly don’t know if I’d finally buy a gun and join the insurgency, or packup the family and retreat to Canada.
    I can only pray for some semblance of an honest and fair election with Biden winning. I could not subject my family to another 4 years of Trump destruction.

  29. foggycoast says:

    unless i misunderstand it the Dems can block such a vote by simply not showing up:
    “A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.”

    • jmac says:

      A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member

      The fly in this is that a single member, I highly doubt there will be enough states with NO Republicans elected. Would it be so… but I doubt it.

    • Yeskld says:

      I think what might be missing from this conversation is that the House can do one of two things to short circuit this scenario. The Democratic majority can refuse to seat certain members until the election takes place. Second, the House is the one that counts the votes; if a state sends in two sets of votes, the House decides which to use. The Constitution does not say anything about States certifying Electoral votes. In fact, states have submitted two sets of votes before and the House has chosen which ones to count.

  30. Bruce Olsen says:

    Thanks for surfacing this here, bmaz.

    Although Durham is probably meant to deliver a standard-issue October Surprise, perhaps some of his “findings” are meant to be part of a Wirth/Rogers attack. Certainly his low profile is meant to enhance whatever shock value any announcement may have.

    If Durham turns up a bunch of Biden/China “wrongdoing” we should probably worry a lot more.

  31. Fraud Guy says:

    Why do liberals and Democrats spend all of their time coming up with public nightmare scenarios for conservatives and Republicans to enact? Asking for a friend.

    • e.a.f. says:

      well Fraud Guy, you and your “friend”, just haven’t studied enough history or read enough law books or game rules on how the U.S.A. political system can be played with. bmaz has figured this out, most likely some time ago. the two men he writes about, yes they’re smart and they figured it out.

      Now when you consider I live in Canada and I have already discussed this type of scenario with friends here, none of this would be a surprised. About all some of us in Canada are wondering is, will this start a civil war? Then if a civil war starts in the U.S.A. how many political refugees can Canada and Mexico expect? Some have even wondered if there is a civil war in the U.S.A. and enough Americans come to Canada and Mexico would Trump invade our countries. Just so you don’t think I’m crazy, the Americans did draw up plans to invade Canada if it got too “commie” back in the 1930s. Then WW II started and it all got put back in the drawers.

      Canada does have plans to work with, if 300K Canadians came back, all in one swoop from Hong Kong, but that many Americans a lot of us wouldn’t be that keen. There is all that COVID around the U.S.A., Americans don’t understand our laws, especially as how they relate to guns, etc. At least Mexico has a part of a wall they could use to keep Americans out and the cartels might not be too welcoming.

      You may consider the article contains “night mare scenarios” but some of us know what dictators do. You might be too young to remember the Hungarian revolution or the Russians rolling into Czechoslovakia, the building of the Berlin Wall, or even the break up of the former Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had this amazing Olympics and then a few years later its genocide, mass murder, etc. Don’t think that it couldn’t happen in the U.S.A.

      In the fall of 1970 the then P.M. of Canada, Trudeau Sr., invoked the War Measures Act. first time in Canadian history during peacetime. Now he had a good reason, some argue.

      So Fraud Guy if you don’t think the points laid out in the article can’t happen in the U.S.A,. read some history. Have a look at Germany. Once the Germans were in France and other countries they were carting Jews and others to the death camps within two years.

      Trump is a lot like Hitler, just not as smart, but he does have Bill Barr and others working for him. Remember during the protests how Trump threatened to send in the military?

      All Americans should pay attention to the article

      In the meantime Have a HAPPY 4TH OF JULY! and don’t forget to maintain social distance. We in CANADA had our JULY 1ST celebrations without the usual parties and national celebrations. Our National Chief Medical officer Dr. Tan also had the “official talk” with us today. The “talk” you ask, sex in the time of COVID 19–the bars are opening.

      • Eureka says:

        Yeah, it seems the frisky kids out at bars and beaches might kill all of us here. Somewhere in NY, they were flouting the contract tracers, too — until a fine was threatened (2k/day, IIRC) then they piped up about their presences at a certain party, etc.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You haven’t been paying much attention to what Trump has already done, have you.

    • vvv says:

      Why do “conservatives and Republicans” constantly put themselves in position such that their willingness to engage in/support “public nightmare scenarios” has to be considered?

      (Thanks for this, bmaz.)

  32. Raven Eye says:

    Some thoughts on supporting elements to this dreadful scenario…

    1. Precept: Beware the Slow Roll.

    2. Vote-by Mail is a lot more complex to operationalize that many people realize. In fact any ballot-based system is a challenge to spoof because, at the level of the thousands of localities (city and/or county), every one can be different. So while this makes spoofing of the physical media difficult at a significant level, it still requires investigation. Investigation takes TIME and money. (How much does it cost to “plant” a bomb in a public building? The price of one or two burner phones. Somebody still has to go through the motions – See #1.)

    3. Seeding local public distrust is not that difficult. I spent 9 months in a flyover city on my journey between coasts. If you do a little initial on-the-ground recce, back that up with Street View, subscribe to online media outlets, and participate in locality-based social media groups, you can present yourself as “local”. If you target one or more electorally-important localities, you can “be local” from anywhere in the world. Easy to insert fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

    • Raven Eye says:


      (4) Related to #3, there are millions of people on social media that are ripe pickings for exploitation. Malign organizations have been profiling Individuals via Facebook for 5 or 6 years. But I have noticed in the past couple of months a marked increase in people expressing anger, frustration, powerlessness, anxiety, separation, etc. Last week I saw a 200+ word (pretty much stream of consciousness) rant by a guy who normally posts pictures and comments on grilling, craft beer, and improvements to his patio. He was (IMHO) totally off base, but he got a lot of approval from a lot of folks. These people are going to absorb whatever swill they get fed that somehow resonates with their emotional situation. And based on the stuff they repost/share, they are already on sucker lists worldwide. Political tribalism, Covid-19, and BLM (around here that might include the Bureau of Land Management) make for an uncertain social environment.

      Bmaz: I have to thank you for bringing this up – but I wish I didn’t have to.

  33. Tom R. says:

    I have no doubt that he will cheat on a massive scale … but the scenario posited by Wirth&Rogers is dubious. In particular, unless I’m missing something, step 9 isn’t right. We have had previous elections with absent electors. 1864. Winning requires a majority of the electors *who are actually appointed* \1\ … so absent electors do not appreciably raise the odds of sending the choice to the house.

    In particular, if we assign states the way current prediction markets rate them, we get a 323–215 (i.e. 60%) electoral vote win for Biden. If we take away the four specified R-controlled swing states, we are left with 266–215 (i.e. 55%) win for Biden. That is, 266 is less than 270, but it’s still more than 215. There’s even a bit of cushion.

    What am I missing?

    I reckon there are more effective, more dangerous forms of cheating that we need to defend against.

    \1\ Reference: 12th amendment: «shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed»

    • bmaz says:

      I believe that, under the Wirth/Rogers scenario what you are missing is the difference between electors putatively appointed an d allotted, and electors definitively certified by the state, but you would have to ask them.

      Listen, I am certainly not saying I believe things will necessarily go down this way, but they present a scenario that at least is theoretically possible. It does not hurt to think through what people like Trump and Barr could be contemplating, and so people are doing that.

      Oh, and hi there “Fraud Guy”. Not sure who your “friend” is, so I will address this to you. You give yourself away when make a categoric broad statement about “liberals and Democrats”. Tim Wirth was, and presumably still is, a Democrat. Tom Rogers I have no idea about at this point, but he is no liberal firebrand, and is extremely plugged in to both media and politics. Your allegation is bunk.

      • dimmsdale says:

        I’ll add my appreciation to others, for your posting this. Especially with Barr, there is no such concept as “they’d NEVER try that.” The scenario points out a lot of vulnerabilities that have existed for a while: the growth and grooming of ICE as an unaccountable police force under Barr’s control; and the out-of-control and alt-right-friendly nature of local police forces (and their lack of responsiveness to civilian control). Add in the willingness of militias to stir things up, especially if deputized (and presumably some local LEOs would be fine with that). I suppose as long as Democratic governors in states with majority-Republican legislatures can still mobilize their state National Guard, there’s a countervailing force there, but federal-versus-state jurisdictional disputes only add to the picture of chaos, which brings us to the last 3 paragraphs, above. However, the sooner this nightmare scenario gets booted into the public consciousness, and opens a public debate, the better.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. And, again, not trying to fear monger any of this. I have never given the “Trump will never leave” stuff much, if any, credibility.

          But seeing Wirth and Rogers yesterday morning was kind of bracing. Still not sure I buy it, but the thought suddenly became more worthy of at least being discussed and understood.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Jefferson last night must have shed tears, George a lament, Teddy a frown, and FDR stood upright over the fascistic verbal diarrhea coming from their would be successor, Donald John Trump.

          He ruins people over a slight. What will he do when an entire nation rejects him in a landslide?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not on the hill in stone, but in the peanut gallery of notable former presidents, who would be appalled at their successor. Woodrow Wilson, OTOH, was probably applauding.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Donald Trump’s advice when faced with a dire threat and a not-a-hope-in-hell cure for it: “Try it. What have you got to lose?”

          The effects of that dire advice are limited, because he’s a hypocrite and rarely takes even his own advice. But one problem with analyzing the likelihood of this stuff is that Trump doesn’t analyze. He has fear and ignorance and lashing out. His game theory is based on 52-card pickup: he guesstimates what he can gain from busting things up. That includes denying his enemy whatever she wants, including a little self-respect and a life without him.

        • Vicks says:

          A slightly less awful consideration is that they are simply setting up a dramatic cover to insure Trump’s “legacy” can live on when he loses.
          Trump will need something to keep ratings up and his followers engaged.
          An investigation into a “rigged” election could provide enough entertainment and targets for their rage to prevent the image of a weak, lame, loser, duck from sinking in.
          Hard to believe that could be the best case scenario for the seeds we see being planted.
          But here we are.

        • BobCon says:

          I absolutely agree that the issue needs to be discussed — one of the reasons the Brooks Brother riots and Bush v. Gore worked is that mainstream institutions had an attitude that they could never happen, and so they weren’t prepared.

          One thing that has impressed me is Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Dems, has been busting his tail to organize against GOP cheating. The ability of the WI Dems to win the state Supreme Court election despite the GOP’s efforts, going all the way up to the US Supreme Court, to use the COVID outbreak to monkey wrench the election.

          I think the Democrats in a lot of places are better prepared. The NY Times sys recent polling suggests 15-25 million have taken part in BLM protests — I think those numbers are probably high, but there is no doubt millions have. On top of the millions in the 2017 women’s marchs, I think there is strong reason to believe an illegitimate Trump takeover attempt would have major problems.

          I think it’s less important to put every detail of any of these scenarios under strict scrutiny, and simply prepare. Wisconsin Dems did not have a pandemic scenario planned out at the beginning of the year, but they did have a lot of contingency planning done and resources positioned, and so they were able to adapt to a surprise. Nationwide, that’s what Dems need to do, and at least some are taking this seriously.

  34. Mitch Neher says:

    Putting The Lone Fixer in charge of a coup plan that features twelve moving parts . . . during a global pandemic that The Lone Fixer has thoroughly mismanaged . . . er, uh . . . sounds exactly like something that He-Who-Alone-Can-Fix-It would do.

    P. S. Now we know what that Bible-holding photo-op was really all about.

    P. S. S. I hereby grant Rugger9 permission to use the moniker Kaiser Quisling, again.

  35. Bay State Librul says:

    Jeff Sharlet chimes in….

    DONALD TRUMP: We have to go to the polls on November 3rd and the rest you know what to do. You know what to do.

    JEFF SHARLET: And his followers heard it. I can’t speak to his inner motivations. But the way that language works is to say that if on November 3rd if I’m not declared the winner, you know what to do. That’s where the violence begins. And that language has primed them. If these child molesters, these cannibals, these child killers try to steal this election, you know what to do.

  36. Bay State Librul says:

    In my opinion, the call to violence is next. We are in for a whole lot of shit from now until January 15th 2021.

    Not sure when the eradication of violence will occur.

    “There are always three violences. The first is the violence itself.

    The second is the violence of not righting the original violence. This is, for example, the violence that lets Breonna Taylor’s killers still roam free; this is the violence that let the killers of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery roam free until public outcry led to their arrests; this is the violence that left Michael Brown’s murdered black body baking in the hundred-degree Midwestern summer heat for hours—something no American would let be done to a stray dog.

    The third is erasure of the violence.”

    –Hope Wabulo

      • Eureka says:

        I presume (with huge irony) that it’s because you said GF’s name. Any comment I make that says his name, or has his name in an included url, goes straight to the comment pokey (one is drying out overnight in there right now).

        I assume general WP filters must be set that way due to a lot of bad spam/ ne’er-do-well content also saying his name.

  37. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If we resorted to the biblical eye-for-an-eye – ironically, an admonition to limit reprisal, not expand it – we would still all be toothless and blind. We must find an alternative to the violence of others that is not just as violent. I understand that that’s a restraint the likes of Donald Trump and Dick Cheney laugh at, but it is true, nevertheless.

        • P J Evans says:

          “The universe is more concerned with ends than with means. Beginnings much be clean to be of profit.” – Surak

  38. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Thanks Bmaz for bringing the Wirth scenario to my attention. I have been privately thinking about Trump ‘staying on’ in both the Constitutional and post-Constitutional circumstance for two years. My approach is inexpert but informed. Jack Balkin has written about this too.

    A lot of moving parts have to align and a lot of people have to lay down to turn this into a plausible scenario. I hope the range of possible particulars get expertly chewed over here on EW.

    A nifty aspect of speculation is that speculations are pliable until facts constrain them. There’s lots of room to maneuver right now. Let’s entertain the scenario where the Democrats retain the House and regain the Senate. Yet, the Wirth scenario unfolds. The majorities’s target right after 1/20/21 are the claims that the Chinese interfered in the election. Is it okay to assume the claims are facially ridiculous? Would Barr go full-on unitary executive and shut down all investigations and oversight? Career DOJ investigators would respond how to being commanded to verify Chinese interference?

    How plausible in comparison to this scenario are scenarios which do not assume the Constitutional order is to be retained?

    (I’m in over my head yet I am imaginative at the same time!)

    You say you’ll change the constitution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change your head
    You tell me it’s the institution
    Well, you know
    You better free your mind instead
    But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Correction: Neil H. Buchanan at dorfonlaw writes about Trump not leaving, not Mr. Balkin.

      excuse me

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Correction: Neil H. Buchanan at dorfonlaw writes about Trump not leaving, not JB at balkinization.

      excuse me

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A former investment banker and friend of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, Laura Goldman, opines that neither Prince Andrew nor any of Maxwell’s friends have anything to worry about from evidence she might give to the SDNY. I’m wondering whether Goldman’s quote to the Guardian was meant to warn Maxwell or to reassure her friends that she would follow the First Rule of being an insider.

    Goldman asserts that when Maxwell’s father, Robert, died in 1991, Prince Andrew “was there for her, in many ways,” and that she was determined to return the favor. In other words, they go way back, which is an assertion of status and claim for support. In many ways, Robert Maxwell is still the elephant in the living room. A flamboyant, self-made politician, billionaire press lord, and friend of prime ministers, he died on his offshore yacht under mysterious circumstances. The coroner presumed that he fell overboard, and ruled his death natural, a combination of heart attack and drowning. He was buried in Jerusalem. Shortly afterwards, his businesses collapsed in scandal, an inevitable outcome when he took his last cruise.

    A Czech Jewish immigrant, Robert Maxwell escaped the Nazis and fled to the UK, served in the army, maintained close ties with Israel, and built a media empire. He was rumored – like the father of John le Carre’s hero in A Perfect Spy – to have had many pursuits, including spy and con man. Horace Rumpole, for the defense, might have described him, in part, as a “picker up of trifles,” evidence of the alleged scandals and affairs of others, to help a friend or to save for a rainy day. Some things run in the family.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      At his death, Robert Maxwell’s empire comprised more than 400 companies, many household names, which employed some 13,000 people. His debts vastly exceeded his assets. Nearly a billion in pension funds went missing, amidst a series of hard-to-trace intercompany and international transfers. Along with the demise of BCCI, also in 1991, the resulting litigation virtually invented a new legal practice – the multinational bankruptcy. The Spanish coroner’s ruling of death by natural causes was a godsend, because it meant the proceeds of a $35 million life insurance policy were payable.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Rumpole of the Bailey !! Now there is a barrister, hahaha. I raise a glass of Chateau Thames Embankment to Horace and “She Who Must Be Obeyed” !

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        H. Rider Haggard also appreciates your toast, but the makers of Chateau Fleet Street will be disappointed in your selection.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Why would H. Rider Haggard notice my toast ? I know he was a barrister and author, but is he connected to John Mortimer in some way ? They were generations apart weren’t they ?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Because he was the Victorian writer of adventure novels, who wrote, King Solomon’s Mines and She, from which comes, “She who must be obeyed.” She is an ancient femme fatale and ruler of an even more ancient lost city in Africa, who thinks she is immortal. She was wrong.

          John Mortimer was a practicing barrister, who died about a decade ago. His peak was the 1960s through early 1990s. He wrote the Rumpole of the Bailey series, and a list of novels, stories, stage plays, and scripts.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Fascinating! I’ll have to check out Haggard. I have read all of the Rumpole, but it was quite a while ago.

          I have a fondness for British humor. Bertie Wooster and Jeeves among the many, hence the giant cat we once had named Jeeves.

    • Eureka says:

      Noted character witness Alan Dershowitz (gag) apparently wrote what was intended as a defense, ~~ ‘The Ghislaine Maxwell I Know’ (or something like that).

      The headline was going around Friday or so. I did not investigate further.

  40. Hannah says:

    Well… this is not how things work.
    Let us play something through and pretend that Congress postpones the election (only Congress can do that, to a President. They won’t do that, but we are just pretending). Let’s say election would be in March.
    Now comes the fun fact:
    The Constitution says that the period for a President ends – no matter what – on 20th January. Even when the election was postponed. These are two different things.
    In that case that disgusting criminal-in-chief would be dragged out of the office.

    Of course Congress will not delay the election. Only……
    Naaaaancyyyyyyy… got a minute?

    Folks, we have to make sure that Biden wins in such a big margin that there is no doubt that he really won. For that everybody has to go to vote. Or apply for absentee ballot. Whatever, but vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does. It really does.
    This is the most important election this country has ever seen and will ever see.

    If you are not registered to vote, do it NOW! Time is of the essence. Find online for your state how you can register. And make sure all your family, friends, neighbors, work mates are registered too.

    • Rugger9 says:

      As a corollary, make sure you remain registered, one of the GOP tricks is to quietly purge the rolls of so-called inactive voters and other “errors” which always seem to favor the GOP.

      Also, note that the ones busted for voter fraud are all GOP. The GOP is also still under a consent decree for allegedly preventing their voter caging, which is when they send a postcard to verify addresses and reject those who fail to acknowledge their card.

  41. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, as this discussion nears its end, but Trump just makes shit up. Facts, truth, or winning in the end are irrelevant, if that gives him some intermediate advantage, even if it’s only in his own mind.

    And now, time to put a coupla prawns on the barbie…. Happy holiday to one an all.

  42. What Constitution? says:

    It’s July. The specter of nascent evisceration of the concept of free and fair elections is stunningly chilling, to be sure, and bmaz is right that having it gamed out like this is a notch higher on the “chilling” bar. But it’s July, and the only thing scarier than this being discussed now might just be having this “surprisingly being attempted or implemented” in November, isn’t it? That would be worth asking about. If there’s any risk of that, why shouldn’t the immediate focus of every single press conference, media commentary and congressional subpoena and hearing be directed at putting this question to every conceivable “person of influence” surrounding Trump to answer the question “is this in the works, do you support this?” If they deny it, they deny it and should they renege in the future their ability to marshal sympathy or support should be diminished accordingly; should they say “yeah, we’re looking into that because, you know, we might not win this election” ought to result in an election result of 97% Biden/3% Trump and if it doesn’t, well we get the government we deserve.

    If Bill Barr blows off a congressional subpoena after refusing to publicly disavow any such plotting, he should be impeached and removed from office by unanimous consent of the House and Senate the following Tuesday. Same for the rest of the sycophants and enablers — and it is, to my mind, hard to fathom that any elected official actually going on record to support this postulated agenda (especially in light of Trump’s relentless incitements as his main electoral strategy) could possibly actually win an election by announcing to the electorate that their vote is presumed to be of no consequence.

    It’s not a time for hand-wringing whispering over “do you think it could be possible”. It’s time to frame the question directly to those who may be involved in planning it. And it’s not time for another round of Nancy Pelosi “off the table” deflections premised on her “there’s an election coming up” folly.

    • Hannah says:

      Well.. as right as you are…. but we all know how it would end if we would impeach anybody right now.
      And btw… Nancy Peolosi knows what she is doing. And there is done more than this what meets the public eye.

  43. Joseph says:

    I agree with the article … when will we mix into the equation the fact that bozo ignoramus (aka trump) … will benefit from Russian hacking into systems and votes will be changed!

  44. mass interest says:

    “And there is done more than this what meets the public eye.”

    Care to elaborate?

    Oops, this was meant to be a reply to Hanna’s comment above.

  45. Ravenclaw says:

    I may be too late to the party to get a response, but it’s worth a try. As I recall, the 2000 Florida election results were certified by the Secretary of State (a Republican). There was no mention at the time of any involvement on the part of the state legislature. I suppose every state has its own regulations, but it would seem that this was a straightforward function of the Secretary of State. As it happens, the four individuals in question here are all from the Democratic Party. I don’t think any of them would follow their Florida cousin in certifying a badly tainted result, but as long as we’re talking thousands (not hundreds) of votes, I think they’d go with the facts on the ground. Am I incorrect? (I have actually written to the state election commissions in question, but am not sure they’ll get back to me. If they do, I’ll add a post here.)

    For the record: Pennsylvania (Kathy Boockvar), Michigan (Jocelyn Benson), Wisconsin (Doug LaFollette), Arizona (Katie Hobbs). All four look to be decent, competent people, at least upon cursory examination.

    • bmaz says:

      “For the record” Mr. “Formerly Stephen”, I live in one of those states and you do not know your ass from a hole in the ground about it. But, hey, thanks for playing!

      • Ravenclaw says:

        So if you could manage a substantive response (I know, you get tired and cranky), what you’re implying is that the Secretary of State generally does NOT certify election results, or can be overruled by votes in the state legislature? I was asking sincerely about this, as it contradicted information we all thought we received back in December of 2000.

        (My remark to the effect the the four individuals seem to be decent & competent was, as stated, based on a cursory look – no claim of in-depth knowledge. Their party affiliations are, however, for real.)

  46. Eureka says:

    Thanks, bmaz. I had all good intentions of updating a couple of threads re GOP ratfucking around in Pennsylvania (concordant with, if not evidence for, the scheme laid out by Wirth and Rogers; in any case these elements, independently, are bad enough). But it’s a holiday and there’s plenty of info already at these threads:

    ●Trump campaign, joined by RNC and four GOP US reps from PA, last week sued the PA Dept. of State and all 67 counties’ BOE over mail ballot drop boxes (plaintiffs want to get rid of them; they were essential to the primary) and poll watchers (plaintiffs want to be able to have them come from outside their respective counties):

    ●Part of why this matters and other facts on the ground, +/- pro-Trump shenanigans [this will be PA’s first general election with substantial mail in ballots, election results will likely be delayed (and initially go more in Trump’s favor, buoying his BS claims when the full results go for Biden (if all of the votes get counted)); politicizing a past case of dem election fraud — ballot box stuffing at behest of a former Abscam player; etc.]:

  47. Eureka says:

    Welp, looks like Kanye’s gonna Jill Stein it (at least for enough time to pilot test and disrupt). I had initially dismissed this outright as perhaps him having a moment, but Kim’s helping to push it out (with a flag emoji), along with other allies of his like *Elon Musk*. Per twitter (not fact checked), the states which would exclude him from the ballot are few, and not the pivots/swings as discussed here. i.e., welcome to chaos if those Trump-Jared allies go through with this [and I am reminded of that August 2018* Bloomberg profile of Harvey Levin, where he’d pushed for the Kardashians to get into politics (see also that older ? New Yorker profile, was it, re TMZ’s vaults as a mini-CIA, and Levin’s longstanding desire to get into the DC mix)].

    Hopefully this plan does not live past the weekend.

    And it’s a really shitty way to get attention and clicks.

    • Eureka says:

      Note the very careful phrasing — could be about any time in the future [which is an infinite ray… (still, we hope)], with ~ today’s ‘vision’. However, many much clicks and data harvesting in the meantime:

      ye: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States
      🇺🇸! #2020VISION”
      8:38 PM · Jul 4, 2020

      • Sonso says:

        Cheezus Krist! I am reminded of the old Gahan Wilson cartoon (from a pilfered Playboy): Is Nothing sacred?
        Apparently, yes.

  48. Mitch Neher says:

    5. The investigation is intended to tick down the clock toward December 14, the deadline when each state’s Electoral College electors must be appointed.

    And then some. The investigation is going to have to produce actual, bona fide evidence of mail-in-ballot election-fraud, with an authenticated chain of custody for that evidence, at some point along the way.

    When it eventually, inevitably, turns out that there was no mail-in-ballot election-fraud after the House-Republican state delegations chose Trump and Pence for President and Vice President, then . . . Well . . . Something is bound to happen after that . . . “??”

  49. Sandy says:

    Trump certainly will want to stay out of prison and, while I haven’t seen much on this blog about the Koch Network although I’m sure you’re aware of what they’re up to, especially in Michigan, they have decades of stealth work and millions riding on maintaining Republican control in November. If their usual deception, distraction with hot button conspiracies, voter suppression and foreign interference don’t get them over the hump, November would be an excellent time for them to make their power play behind the scenes. I have my doubts that people who’ve spent decades pushing hard and spending multi-millions for minority rule by white, christian, wealthy, males (“property supremacists” per MacLean) will allow Democrats take to take the Presidency, House and Senate, as we well may. They know the changes we could put through – voting rights, statehood for Puerto Rico and DC, dreamers citizens, would solidify majority control.

    Books like Dark Money by Jane Mayer and Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean, two of the best books I’ve read, explain how the network destroyed the Republican Party and trust in governments, both federal and state. My take is that their decades of hammering away at our institutions allowed both Trump and Russia to drive right through our hollowed-out core.

    There are also several other interesting books recently published on the network, such as The Power Worshippers by Katherine Stewart, Shadow Network by Ann Nelson and Unrigged by David Daley. (FYI, for any interested, on July 8 there’s a zoom event from Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor with David Daley and Nancy MacLean in conversation, FYI

    Excerpt from Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean
    The ultimate target of the well-heeled right’s stealth plan, though, as Buchanan for so long urged, is the nation’s most important rule book: the U.S. Constitution itself. To understand where that endgame fits with all that has already unfolded, it may help to take a step backward and review the planning of the whole project that has unfurled since 2008, when the combined impact of the financial crisis that set off the Great Recession and the election of the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama, gave the cause the opening for which Charles Koch had patiently waited after setting up shop at George Mason in 1997 fn58

    That very year, Tyler Cowen was commissioned to lay the conceptual groundwork for the planned push to transform America with a paper titled “Why Does Freedom Wax and Wane?” fn59 The paper was a review of research that could guide the Mercatus Center in its quest to eradicate the “restrictions on liberty” characteristic of twentieth-century democracies. fn60 What did Cowen discover? One key finding was that by the 1920s, in both Europe and the United States, “the expansion of the voter franchise” beyond “wealthy male landowners” had produced the unfortunate result of enlarged public sectors. Alas, “the elimination of poll taxes and literacy tests leads to higher turnout and higher welfare spending.” Fn 61

    “The freest countries have not generally been democratic,” Cowen noted, with Chile being “the most successful” in securing freedom (defined not as most of us would, as personal freedom, but as supplying the greatest economic liberty). Cowen pointed to Hong Kong and Singapore as other lasting examples, as well as to two other cases: Peru under Alberto Fujimori and New Zealand from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, which deregulated financial markets, privatized extensively, slashed taxes on the wealthy to create “a (nearly) flat tax,” and undermined labor unions’ bargaining power.62 The professor identified another commonality in the success stories: “In no case were reforms brought on by popular demand for market-oriented ideas.” The pro-liberty cause faced the same problem it always had: it wanted a radical transformation that “find[s] little or no support” among the people. Cowen delivered the action implication of its minority following without mincing words: “If American political institutions render market-oriented reforms too difficult to achieve, then perhaps those institutions should be changed.” fn63

    The economist was creating, it seems fair to say, a handbook for how to conduct a fifth-column assault on democracy.

    “The weakening of the checks and balances” in the American system, Cowen suggested, “would increase the chance of a very good outcome.” Alas, given the pervasive reverence for the U.S. Constitution, a direct bid to manipulate the system could prove “disastrous.” Cowen’s best advice, informed by the Chilean experience, was sudden percussive policy bombing, akin in nature, one could say, to the military doctrine of shock and awe, which uses colossal displays of force and calculated interlinked maneuvers to shock the enemy into submission. When the right opportunity arose, the economist advised, “big-bang style clustered bursts” could dispense with multiple democratic constraints on economic liberty in the same surge (rather like, one could infer, the radical policy changes imposed on multiple fronts in the same sessions in newly Republican-dominated states like mine after 2011, among them education, employment, environment, taxation, and voting rights). fn64

    In the meantime, shaping public opinion was crucial. Efforts should probably focus on men, because they “are more likely to think like economists,”…

    MacLean, Nancy. Democracy in Chains (pp. 222-224). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      I agree.
      A cult.
      Trump – Gone for good.
      The next three months will be “havoc” run amok.
      I was so stupid to believe that our democracy would hold.
      The days of wine and roses are over.
      The carnage is before our eyes.

  50. Christopher Blanchard says:

    I find this thread reassuring, in a gloomy way, because I have worried that people I read in the USA haven’t taken Trump seriously enough. I am an outsider to this, from England, so maybe I see things a little differently but I have taken the possibility of a Trump coup quite seriously, ever since he was elected. The comparison I come back to is with Benito Mussolini. There are big differences, of course, but:
    Mussolini got into power in 1922 by legal and constitutional means, like Trump. The established right wing Liberal party had brought him into parliament under their wing in 1921, much as your Republicans took on Trump in 2016. Once in parliament Mussolin broke with the Liberal leader Gioliti and went on to organise the march on Rome in 1922. Trump hasn’t had to break with the bulk of the Republican party because your primary system gave him enough power, before he was elected, that he didn’t need to do so.
    The march on Rome was a big threat of violent insurrection, which could have been opposed, but the legal authority, which was the King, continued the appeasement, motivated, I think, by fear of various sorts of left wing, including communists, anarchists (who were real then), socialists, and just plain democrats, at least as much as fear of Mussolini. The right, including the king and the Italian Catholic church of the day (though not all the Liberals, just enough) had attitudes like those described by Sandy, so they gave Mussolini what he wanted. That was a dictatorship for one year, which was, roughly, the Italian constitutional equivalent of your emergency powers, rather than oppose him. He used that legal space to then build up to ‘proper’ dictatorship, but he didn’t really get there till 1925, and even then, by his own later account, he could have been stopped.
    Again, that is not a perfect parallel, but there is a lot in common. Do you see this the same way I do?
    The same kind of combination of right wing complacency and anti-democratic sentiment which brought Mussolini into power has worked for Trump.
    It is backed up by a credible threat of civil disorder. This is another of the places there is a difference, because Mussolini had it on tap before he took power, but Trump started relatively small and has built it. I suspect, and fear, that threat is now real enough it will be part of anyone’s calculations if Wirth and Rogers scenario, or anything like it, should happen.
    Like Mussolini, Trump is an opportunist. I don’t imagine 1921 Mussolini imagined he could get supreme power, and nor do I imagine 2017 Donald Trump thought he could break your Constitution. They both might have wanted it and worked to make it more likely by building up their most violent supporters, but that isn’t the same thing as really believing in it.
    Those violent supporters are important, and I think a thing which gets missed is that every political murder (racist especially, but not only) is a gain for them. That is what they want, and every murder, beating, wrecked opportunity to vote and so on, gives them feelings of solidarity and self-worth, Aryan Brotherhood just as much as Blackshirts, and that means Trump has increasing leverage. This is Mussolini’s kind of opportunism. Trump uses incendiary language, and that means he has a solidifying pool of armed people he can call up and use whenever he wants. The more incendiary, the more potential Blackshirts he has on tap.
    Britain hasn’t faced anything this bad since the 1930s, though there was serious right wing conspiracy in the late sixties, which had its successes, most obviously in the perversion of the Military intervention in Northern Ireland – from defending the Catholic minority to making war on them. But for most of us that was secondary.
    I can only say, I am reassured you seem to be paying attention, which I feared you might not do, so be vigilant, and I wish you strength, skill, and of course, luck.

  51. Yohei72 says:

    https:// @lessig/confused-electoral-college-crises-replying-to-wirth-rogers-in-newsweek-9e1be5aa0339

    Lawrence Lessig throws cold water on the Wirth and Rogers scenario:

    //”This assumes something that is not true: That “state legislatures” have anything to do with “certif[ying]” slates of electors… It is instead the state executive that certifies the electors to Congress… So the real question that the Wirth/Rogers scenario frames is whether state executives — either Secretaries of State or Governors, depending upon state law—could ever “refuse to certify” because of alleged foreign involvement in the election. No doubt, it is the age of Trump: Anything is possible. But three of the four states that Wirth/Rogers identify (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) have Democratic Governors. Nothing in their law requires the executive to “refuse to certify” a slate of electors because of alleged foreign involvement. And nothing in the law of politics would suggest that they would take such an extraordinary action against the vote of their own citizens and the interest of their own party. (Arizona does have a Republican governor, but as Dan Carpenter points out in an email, the Secretary of State is a Democrat.)”\\

    (Commenter “JackZ” above raised more or less this same point, but it seems to have not been particularly noticed.)

    It’s a *very* long and involved piece, and I don’t pretend to follow every point in it. Lessig seems to say that some similar scenario isn’t impossible (though unlikely), but that the precise scenario Wirth & Rogers posit more or less is.

    So these things are worth gaming out, obviously. But it seems to me that a plot like this requires so many things to go exactly right for Trumpbarr, in a way that they rarely do in real life.

    BONUS AMUSEMENT: Lessig’s Twitter thread on this topic has been visited by a Trumper troll hollering that “Masks are a sign of submission.” To which Lessig replies, “Space suits too. Who knew astronauts were such COWARDS!”

    • bmaz says:

      Well, the Wirth/Rogers theory is based on the thought that certification procedures for each state are set by the state legislature, and irrespective of how they may read today, could be changed by Republican controlled legislatures. I didn’t need Lessig or Carpenter to know that Arizona’s Secretary of State is Katie Hobbs and that she is a Democrat. I can also tell you that Lessig is full of shit if he thinks the wildly right wing Arizona State legislature is not capable of changing the rules. They do crazy stuff like that all the time, and the idiot governor, Ducey, would sign that.

      I don’t think Lessig has solved or answered anything at all, much less rendered the Wirth/Rogers scenario impossible. As even the somewhat goofy Lessig admits, there are also other scenarios possible too. Does that mean any should be presumed? No, of course not. But they all should be understood and gamed out and watched out for. Acting like Trump and Barr could never attempt chicanery is ostrich like behavior.

      • JackZ says:

        OK, AZ is possible because the GOP has a trifecta. But in none of MI, PA and WI do they have a veto-proof majority, so they won’t be able to change the rules before November.

        WI might also be just possible because I think the results are certified by the WI Elections Commission which has 3 Democrats and 3 Republican members. Who knows how that would shake out?

        But MI and PA are off the table for this particular scenario. No doubt there are others Barr, et al, are considering.

    • Slappy Kincaid says:

      Well, the Trump administration has done some pretty stupid and illegal things in an utterly shameless, brazen way, so even if they can’t get this scenario to work I could still see them trying it. Keep in mind that state legislatures tend to have a much higher percentage of crackpots than Congress and they would be happy to make trouble if they saw an opportunity to do so. While the vote certification plan probably would not work, it would create a huge amount of chaos and would enable a not-insignificant minority of people to claim the newly elected president and his government, et. al, are illegitimate. As heavily armed as many of those people are, it would be a dangerous time.

  52. Bruce Olsen says:

    Trump’s speeches this weekend positioned himself perfectly for a Wirth/Rogers attack. We can look for much more of this darkness over the coming months.

    Most of the GOP will never revolt against him because the attacks on education, the press, science, and government meet their donors’ needs as well.

    • Marinela says:

      Is going to be ugly from now all the way thru January 2021, but much uglier if Trump wins or cheats.

      GOP is in locked steps with Trump, they just didn’t say some of the stuff Trump says it out loud.
      GOP had plenty of opportunities to curb Trump, just not a priority for them.
      While Trump forces the press and the rest of us to chase the shiny objects, GOP is plugging away with their unpopular agenda.

  53. Vinniegambone says:

    Instead of turning trash cans over the “activist” need to corner any and every Republican in their state and flush them out now on their position on this nightmare scenario. Like Wilkerson said, 60 percent of the guns in America are owned by Trump supporters. If he loses is America going to stand for this type of bullshit ? There could be bloodshed for years. No clue how to respond. National strikes ?
    So we know

    • bmaz says:

      JFC, you understand that most of that activity is being perpetrated by imposters, right?

  54. David B Pittard says:

    When will the Dunham investigation conclude and a report issued? What is taking so long? Timing is everything.

    As the DOJ sees if it can successfully undermine the basis for the Flynn case, will a conclusion by Dunham undermine every conviction resulting from the Mueller investigation?

  55. David B Pittard says:

    When will the Dunham investigation conclude and a report issued? What is taking so long? Timing is everything.

    As the DOJ sees if it can successfully undermine the basis for the Flynn case, will a conclusion by Dunham undermine every conviction resulting from the Mueller investigation?

    Is Barr’s lack of concern about his reputation, which he undermines along with our democracy, due to his confidence that Trump will remain in power? And so, he?

    Trump continues to assert that increase in testing explains the increase in positives, ignoring the ratio of positives to testing. Surely he knows better. But it is a good way to see how effective his word is with the general public. And it looks pretty effective.

    So when Trump keeps up the claim that mail-in votes lead to fraudulent elections, should we assume the same result?

    Much of what Trump does and says seems counter-productive to winning the election. Should we not consider that perhaps winning the election is not his game plan?

    The flirt with getting the military into policing the protesters may have failed in that particular instance but it may not have been entirely discouraging – perhaps it only was a test and with some reconfiguration of people and propaganda, it will be a more useful adjunct to some sinister strategy in the future.

    I”m not deep in the weeds on the Wirth-Rogers scenario. My fears are stoked, though. But if anything like that is in the minds of the like-minded, they probably have a cohesion that seems lacking on the side of those who would be shocked, just shocked, if something like that came into play. Isn’t preparation for worst-case scenarios what war games are for? Or will be just rely on ghost busters?

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      My understanding is that we can expect the “results” of the Durham investigation in the form of an October Surprise.

  56. BraveNewWorld says:

    I would suggest that your problem won’t be DJT clinging to power. It will be extraditing DJT and his clan from the foreign country they choose to seek asylum from in order to avoid conviction and jail time.

        • P J Evans says:

          That would affect what she gets to keep, not whether he’d keep her when fleeing the country. (Remember, he prefers his arm candy to be young.)

    • Yohei72 says:

      In the interest of my eventual sanity, I’m making efforts to not get my hopes up about the Trumps getting what they deserve from the criminal justice system. I’m proceeding on the default assumption that they will receive, at worst, slaps on the wrist once they’re out of (White House) power. I could well be wrong, but you’ll rarely go wrong betting on people with that kind of money and connections skating, even when they *don’t* have fervent cults among many members of the citizenry and government and law enforcement.

      I *fully* expect a Biden administration to take more or less the milquetoast “look forward, not back/now’s the time to come together” approach. State and local investigators and prosecutors may be less disappointing. Still, I’m setting my expectations low and if I’m pleasantly surprised – well, that’ll be wonderful.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        We will have confirmation of that from his first staffing choices: VP, chief of staff, Attorney General (and DAG and head of the OLC).

        Will he reform and rebuild any federal agencies? His picks to head DHS, probably the one in most dire need of reform, HHS, State, Treasury, SEC, FCC will determine that. Will he attempt to rein in Pentagon spending and better coordinate intelligence? His names for SecDef and the civilian service chiefs, and as NSA and DNI will decide. Will he work to ensure that laws he does pass are not neutered by the night creatures of the FedSoc? His approach to court staffing levels will make that clear

        True, all that depends on the GOP being in the Senate minority. But for the Dem majority to grow, Joe has to make good on reforms for a new era. Looking backward – and learning from it – is the only way to move forward.

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Perhaps, during the transition in the aftermath of a loss, Trump will resign and have President Pence pardon everybody.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The good news is that less sane heads are likely to prevail. To do what you suggest does not require not an acceptance of a pardon (as bmaz often points out). But it does require an acceptance of the need for one – to cover Trump’s, Barr’s, and a lot of other backsides.

        In his mind, Trump has never in his life done anything for which he might need to apologize or make amends. And since superficial appearances are all he sees and cares about, who is going to convince him to step down – even for an hour – so Mike Pence can save his federal ass?

  57. Mosey says:

    During “normal” times, roughly 1.5 million Canadian citizens with either green cards or dual citizenship live and work in the United States. Since the beginning of last October, more than a million ex pat Canadians have moved back home. While the exact number of us who have lived and worked here in the USA and have now left is not known, common sense says that a huge number of hard working, talented Canadians have recently left America. My American wife and I, the Canuck with the green card are soon to be added to the statistics. The situation in America is crazy…I’ve been told so many times over the last three plus decades that I should go home. So, ok, I’m going, taking a top notch step down unit nurse with me(my wife) relocating my successful business as well. Wife cannot wait to get CDN citizenship. Somebody tell me what benefit America gets when hundreds of thousands of people similar to my circumstances suddenly leave, taking all their financial gains and spending power with them. One thing I do know, in this situation America’s loss is very much Canada’s gain. We are at the same time heartbroken to be leaving and incredibly excited to be going to a dynamic country which has so many societal advantages over America it is frankly shameful. Oh yes, you said leave, foreigner. We gone. You tell me who the smart one is.

    • DrFunguy says:

      Its not just Canadians leaving. This American moved to Canada in 2010 in part because I couldn’t afford health care while starting a small business.
      No regrets. I haven’t yet applied for citizenship but sure am glad to be on an island in a country with universal healthcare during the current pandemic!

  58. jerryy says:

    Their idea requires a lot of moving parts falling deftly into place, where any one of the juggling balls being missed causes the entire thing to crash because of the cited urgency behind getting to electors to stalemate — there is not enough time to put into play backup plans.

    For instance, the House could finally get around to impeaching A.G. Barr — hey it could happen, after all who thought that one day Mr. Flynn, whose exploits are examined in great detail by Marcy, would be swearing allegiance to QAnon? (Apparently he spent his July 04 holiday doing that instead of eating burgers and watching fireworks.) With some number of Senators keeping an eye toward their own political survival, the fact that he is the AG and not the President may bring a different Senate trial outcome. Any of the juggled ball falls the wrong way and there is no way for the idea to work.

    The folks over at Down With Tyranny have a different way the idea can fail, via the legislative outcome:

  59. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s love for his older brother Fred’s daughter, Mary, goes way back. In an excerpt from her book, she recounts that one year, Ivana and billionaire Donald gave her a single three-pack of underwear for Christmas. (I hope she laundered it first, or just threw it away.) Another year, she received from them a re-purposed gift basket of “crackers, sardines and salami (with the imprint of a missing can of caviar in the cellophane wrapping).”

    Cruel, vindictive miser. Trump almost certainly didn’t pay for either gift. Nor did he do the standard rich guy gimmick of buying something decent for a relative, and then jiggling the accounts to make it look like a deductible business expense. (Actually, he might have.) A slightly more whole personality might have made his point by sending nothing. But Donald Trump had to press his thumb into the open wound, and send a cheap gift no one would want, that said, “Fuck you.” He’s doing the same to America right now.

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