Those Complicit in Trump’s False Story about the Election Are Willingly Damaging This Country

Trump is telling a story — a false story — about his loss. The story, by itself, is not enough to overturn his resounding loss, and because of that, a host of people are treating the story-telling as relatively harmless. That’s a mistake, not least because Trump may intend this story-telling to justify other activities, such as a crack-down on people who protest his actions. He may even intend to make this country ungovernable — and in that, he may well succeed. Because of that, every single person who is complicit in telling that story bears direct responsibility for what comes next, including violence and potentially an attempt to thwart the will of voters.

I’d like to look at two kinds of story-telling that are complicit with Trump’s efforts, using this WSJ story, by Rebecca Balhous and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, as an example (though there are a slew of other possible examples).

First, there are Trump’s advisors, many of whom are described as recognizing that Trump’s claims of voter fraud won’t reverse his overwhelming loss.

Trump advisers have grown more vocal in conversations with Mr. Trump in recent days that they don’t see a path to victory, even if his legal efforts meet some success, a White House official said, though some advisers have continued to tell the president he still has a shot. An official said Mr. Trump understands that the fight isn’t winnable but characterized his feelings as: “Let me have the fight.”

One potential strategy discussed by Mr. Trump’s legal team would be attempting to get court orders to delay vote certification in critical states, potentially positioning Republican-controlled state legislatures to appoint pro-Trump electors who would swing the Electoral College in his favor, according to people familiar with the discussions.

It isn’t known how seriously the campaign has considered this idea, one of the people said.

Many of the advisers and lawyers said they doubt the effort would succeed and say it is aimed largely at appeasing Mr. Trump, who believes the election was stolen from him and expects his legal team to keep fighting.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers and lawyers said there isn’t an overarching legal theory or coordination behind the campaign’s efforts. The legal battle likely will conclude with Mr. Trump claiming the election was rigged against him and that he fought the outcome, the White House official said.

These people are willing to tell a story — one claiming that Trump’s legal challenges are meant to be serious legal challenges and not theater designed solely for story-telling — just to “appease” Trump. These people are all admitting that they are willing to damage the country just to allow a narcissist to claim he didn’t lose because a majority of the country, even a majority of people in states that make up an Electoral College victory, rejected him, but instead to claim he lost because over half the country did something illegitimate. These people are participating in Trump’s efforts to rebrand the act of casting a vote against Donald Trump as cheating.

No one making those admissions should be given anonymity, because they are willingly doing damage to the country.

Worse still, these anonymous sources are described as not really knowing how far Trump intends to go with the story. If they don’t know how Trump intends to use this effort, then they cannot rule out the possibility that they are telling a story that Trump intends to lay the groundwork for some kind of violent or extralegal effort to refuse to hand over power. Presumably, given that these people recognize how elections work, none of these people would willingly participate in a coup. Except they may be doing just that, by helping Trump tell a story that delegitimizes Joe Biden’s resounding win.

If this fight is not winnable, as these sources acknowledge, then participating in it can only serve to harm the country.

But it’s not just these anonymous sources who are complicit in the damage Trump is doing to this country.

This story treats the outcome of the election as a both-sides issue, one that pits Democrats against Republicans. For example, it notes that “officials in each state” have said there were no problems with the election. But then it only quotes Democrats, and labels each one as a Democrat.

Officials in each state have defended their voting processes as fair and free of major problems. Democrats said they would fight any effort to stop certification of the vote.


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said the Michigan lawsuits were aimed at preventing the state from certifying results in hopes that the Republican Legislature would send Congress electors for Mr. Trump. “We are prepared to combat that,” she said on a conference call Wednesday.


A spokeswoman for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, certifies the electors selected by the popular vote.

A spokeswoman for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said the office is confident it will certify election results on time. “Arizona’s courts have plenty of experience handling and expeditiously resolving election-related lawsuits within the very strict statutory deadlines,” said spokeswoman Sophia Solis. [my emphasis]

It is, frankly malpractice to treat these claims as a partisan issue, and even bigger negligence to not quote any of the numerous Republicans who have also said the votes conducted in their states were fair, such as Georgia’s Geoff Duncan, or other Republican experts saying the same, such as Ben Ginsberg or Karl Rove.

Truth is not a partisan issue, but Balhous and O’Brien are treating it as such.

This story also treats claims that have been debunked or that are meaningless as credible.

In Michigan, it has offered affidavits from Republican election challengers who say they were harassed, forcibly excluded from absentee ballot-counting facilities and witnessed tampering with scores of ballots.


In Pennsylvania, the campaign’s lawsuit contends the state didn’t give observers enough access to ballot counters and gave voters in Democratic leaning counties more opportunities to correct deficiencies in their mail-in ballots.

It would take about ten minutes of reporting to explain how these claims misrepresent the legal guidelines surrounding official poll challengers or exploit Democrats’ far wider use of mail-in voting this year to suggest disparate treatment. There are multiple court transcripts now where Republican lawyers have admitted this.

And yet, instead of doing that reporting, these journalists treat these bogus claims as if there is some dispute about them. There is not. The facts show these claims are without merit, and including the claims without clearly noting that is irresponsible.

Finally, having spent thirty paragraphs treating these election claims as if they are serious, in spite of the overwhelming evidence they are not, the WSJ admits that they are instead intended to accomplish other objectives.

Republican leadership in Congress has supported Mr. Trump’s legal battle. Some advisers see the efforts as a way to keep the Trump base energized ahead of the runoff elections in Georgia in January that will determine control of the Senate.

The suits also offer Republicans a greater platform to draw attention to any potential voting irregularities. And they provide an opportunity for political payback by Mr. Trump, who has long complained that the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election was a way for his opponents to delegitimize his victory that year.

Responsible reporting would start with this admission. It would make the lead of the story that Republicans are lying about the viability of their challenge but are willing to do so, with all the damage that will do, to score payback because Trump was investigated for crimes he committed. But instead the WSJ buries it in the last lines, hiding their own complicity and that of Republicans they inexcusably grant anonymity where few will ever read it.

The story that Donald Trump is telling is doing tangible harm to our country. If you are complicit in telling that story — whether you are an anonymous enabler or a both-sides reporter — you also are doing tangible harm to this country.

72 replies
  1. lastoneawake says:

    A: the only way Trump could claim a ‘legal’ win would be if the vote goes from the EC to the House (where he has a technical majority).

    B: Trump will do anything he thinks he can get away with.

    Therefore, all current efforts (B) are directed toward achieving A.

    Is there a fault in this logic that I’m not getting?

        • Raven Eye says:

          Could you please explain what you mean by the term “martial law”…perhaps provide us with one or more citations?

        • emptywheel says:

          Let’s hold off on that until Trump concedes, can we?

          We don’t know what he’s up to, and until we do we need to consider the possibility that he’ll do very rash things to stay in power. Plus, Billy Barr has already basically designated Democrats as terrorists.

        • harpie says:

          I emphatically agree with this.

          We HAVE to be WILLING to imagine
          what the next mutation of DEPRAVED is…
          and the next , and the next …

      • Eskimo says:

        Please look closely at KY & SC senate numbers. Mitch and Miss Lindsay are in bed with Deripaska & Firtash, et al. The post election chaos seems like a tactical diversion. E.g. McCabe hearing … ⚡️

        • vvv says:

          I watched some of that McCabe hearing. I thought he was a good witness, unshakeable despite Graham and Kennedy trying hard. And Blackburn being a complete ass.

      • DTK says:

        It is my understanding that if the House were called on to decide the election, that each state is entitled one vote and that each state delegation decides how to cast that vote. This would favor the Republicans.

        • BobCon says:

          Remember that the House majority gets to decide who to seat.

          The Washington Post had a piece earlier this year about this scenario which noted that the Democrats can refuse to certify the election of sufficient reps — e.g. SD, ND, WY, etc. — until after inauguration, giving them the majority.

          The House has done this in the past, most recently in the 80s with a disputed Indiana election, but also multiple times especially during Reconstruction, and the Constitution explicitly gives each House of Congress sole authority to seat its members.

          If there is an attempt to steamroll the voters and throw the election to the House, the Dems don’t have to comply and can still vote for Biden.

          Of course this would mean a serious breakdown in order at this point, so all bets on regular order even mattering would be off.

        • Sandwichman says:

          But of course the Democrats would decline to play hardball because “norms”. And they would “hope” that Republicans vote in line with the election outcome instead of power grabbing.

        • Rwood says:


          If anyone is counting on Pelosi to take aggressive action they should review the last four years. This will get her usual finger wag followed by another “strongly worded letter”.

          Is it too early to start campaigning against her? I suppose we should wait until after Jan 5th, but I for one am leaning forward in my foxhole.

      • DG says:

        The way the house votes is by states controlled not total Reps. More states are controlled by R’s He would win there.

      • Stephan says:

        If this isn’t resolved the canonical way for Biden in the EC, and goes to congress, Trump and the GOP have won and Biden and the Democrats have lost.

        The procedures for further ‘processing’ in congress are messy, muddy, rarely known and precedent is sparse and exotic. A decision in congress, after it failed in the EC, would be too weak to create any convincing legitimacy for Biden or Trump. We’d have two persons claiming the presidency then.

        In that case, the match would be stuck and status quo would win, with Trump remaining physically in the Withe House and no way to remove him from there. And sitting in the White House, he’d look more like the president and commander in chief than Biden residing somewhere else.

        At that point I would not be surprised to see protests in the streets, till the Democrats accept their loss to avoid casualties and try again in 2024.

        So, the critical point is to make sure that no states send electors contradicting the popular vote in a state.

        • Stephan says:

          There are only a few days left before the safe-harbor date. Everyone who wants democracy to win must assemble in front of the their states’ legislatures and governments _right now_ in some form of ‘occupy-movement’ and demand that the popular vote in their state must be respected under all circumstances. This must be done preemptively, because in the minute alternative electors are sent, which can happen within a very short session in a matter of a few hours, it’s already too late for local protests because the focus will move to Washington very quickly.

        • madwand says:

          Stephen says “At that point I would not be surprised to see protests in the streets, till the Democrats accept their loss to avoid casualties and try again in 2024.” Exactly and the Trump Administration has seen the same thing, this puts the recent Defense Department loyalty appointments and the shoring of the White House fencing into perspective. Esper would decline to order active duty troops to quell protests or riots spawned as a result of overturning an election, Trump would have no qualms and while it is speculation, all those new guys over at the Pentagon wouldn’t either. So we should hope the EC does not fail, but then again anything is possible. IMHO Trump will not willingly walk out of the White House where he has immunity from prosecution to an environment where he will spend the rest of his life fighting lawsuits and possible incarceration. For Trump and some of his disciples, shooting the moon is preferable than wearing an orange jacket.

        • ducktree says:

          Wait a minute, what about the Speaker of the House stepping into the POTUS slippers when there is no clear decision from any of the ping-pong positions allowed in the Constitution Articles I and II?

          Asking for a fiend . . .

      • Rugger9 says:

        That depends upon how the House votes. If it’s by members, you’re correct, but if it is by delegation (which it is) then the GOP has more of them courtesy of the flyover states.

        With that said, the attitude of the courtier press as I describe them is baffling. Their militant refusal to accept any responsibility for their stenography and misrepresentation in the name of “access” is why this will continue to be a problem. For example, how much attention is given to Q-Anon in the MSM relative to its reach and effects on the MAGA cult? Not much that I see.

        • adambulldog says:

          Derisory references by coastal elites to “flyover states” are part of the reason the GOP wins so many elections.

          I live in Wisconsin, which we were able to flip this year. Why? Because we had a candidate who showed up here and respected the people and didn’t say stupid shit about “flyover states” or “baskets of deplorables.”

        • Bleydon says:

          The fact that some of these states would give the presidency to a sociopath due to resentment of the “coastal elites” who consider them flyover states is kind of what makes them flyover states.

    • P J Evans says:

      Biden has more than 270 in the EC – he’s got Arizona for sure, and PA is pretty solid at this point.

  2. skua says:

    “… but characterized his feelings as: “Let me have the fight.”

    Be clear that his feelings are “I will have this fight”.
    Trump is POTUS. He is not asking his underlings for permission. They know they’d be thrown into the road base mix used to pave Trump’s way forward if they raise serious resistance.
    WSJ is quoting spin unchallenged. Yet again they disrespect themselves and their readers.

    • ducktree says:

      It’s been apparent for a long time now that today’s major media journalists seem to believe that they are authors of elaborate storytelling, akin to Arthur Conan Doyle, rather than reporting the news in real time on the ground ~ not those notions wafting up in the clouds where their heads are.

      Spinning skeins and skeins of fanciful yarns to crochet together another “well, it’s out there” afghan to cover their beat, a la the late Cokie Roberts.

      And so it goes . . .

  3. GKJames says:

    Brings to mind NYT and WP coverage for the past 4 years: Recite nearly verbatim 8 paragraphs of the president’s fictions, leaving the none-of-this-is-accurate for paragraphs 9 and 10, knowing that few readers will get there. When challenged, fall back on, We’re just reporting what he said; it’s for the reader to decide. Seems the ultimate have-cake-and-eat-it model; larger national interests end up subservient to it.

  4. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Cheese and crackers Marcy, thanks for this layout.
    Speaking of son of a dozen fucked rats, where is Stone? Think he and Trump are speaking? These “stories” are definitely intended to sow chaos, and keep the fires lit on the base’s torches. I never believed Trump capable of devising any schemes. He checks the map someone handed him at every intersection. So who is the man (men ) behind the curtain?

    Reporters get an angle on a story and shoot for information to support that angle. (partisan wrangling)

    Can’t educate the public if reporters not willing to educate themselves. Can’t we start blasting Marcy’s findings to the reporting universe? Marcy is a Journalist. These knuckleheads are Google-list.

  5. Raven Eye says:

    For months, looking at the Trump Turmoil throughout the campaign, I told friends that as bad is that campaign seemed, I was far more worried about the period from November 4 through January 20.

    So here we are.

    And what I see coming out of the White House is not necessarily the desperation of a loser, but rather the acts of a winner. Shuffling all those toadies and flunkies around is giving us the clearest picture yet of what a second-term Trump administration will/would look like. Subjugation of the military; DOJ as a personal law firm, instrument for internal discipline, and method of bludgeoning external opposition; the IC converted in a monitoring and disinformation mechanism; DHS morphed into Stasi 2.0; etc.

    Essentially, someone who claims to be a conservative is building a bigger and more intrusive government machine. I’m not seeing much in the press that acknowledges this.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One tell that this is wholly corrupt is that Trump only refutes the results in states that he lost, even though some of them are run by Republicans.

    No one outside of Florida, for example, has been more determined to suppress the vote of people of color or to lie prostrate before Donald Trump than Georgia’s Brian Kemp. He has a Republican Secretary of State. But Trump is willing to stone him in order to force a “rethink” of the votes giving Biden the state. Trump is extorting Georgia’s Loeffler and Perdue to follow his lead, lest he sic his attack dogs and patrons’ money on them to deny them their Senate seats.

    Trump portrays himself as the victor – in his mind, he can be nothing else. A loss means the loss of self, status, power, attention, and possibly freedom. He also portrays himself as personally possessing all the power of the state. As a psychopath – for whom their is only the present moment – who cares nothing for consequences to others, why would he not use it?

    Trump might wimp out (he often does) or key people might refuse to go along (it would be a first). Or he might fail. But that won’t happen unless we stand united against him. We can ill afford to have the WSJ, NYT, or CNN plant their asses on the picket fence and watch, as if they were covering a tennis match.

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    I don’t see that we have the votes in Congress to initiate the 25th Amendment:

    “Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

    Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

  8. YinzerInExile says:

    Just a note of thanks to one of my U.S. Senators, the occasionally-honorable (or so I’m told) Pat Toomey, for his half-hearted, indirect, dare-I-say grudging near-acknowledgment that Joe Biden won the election, specifically, “It does appear as though Joe Biden is likely to be certified as the President-elect relatively soon”. You’re a real profile in courage, Pat; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania just won’t be the same without you standing up for us on the national stage. A spine of genuine moss.

    While the substance of Marcy’s post is about complicity in the telling of the story of the election’s outcome, the title of the post captures precisely what has been keeping me on edge this week, which is the complicity at the level of Republican officeholders. My wife and I are former lawyers, and our one-and-only child is an officer in the U.S. military; we are all rule-followers specifically, and adherents to the larger rules-based system, by nature. What has all three of us absolutely gobsmacked is the growing conviction that Republican officeholders don’t seem to feel any commitment to the legitimacy of the greater system whatsoever; they are acting as though that system is just a tool, to be used to perpetuate themselves in power. That is, to say the least, a disappointment, but beyond that it’s unsettling to me for what it may portend.

    You learn an awful lot in law school that you pretty quickly can forget in practice (especially if, like me, you don’t wind up as a litigator), but one thing that has remained with me has been civil procedure; that’s the first-year class where you start to learn about the rules by which courts operate and lawsuits proceed. From that class — and from the subsequent course on legal ethics and professional responsibility — I took away the notion that, while you can definitely make a wide range of possible arguments on behalf of a client about almost anything, including arguments that contradict one another, there’s an overarching requirement that you act in good faith and in a way supported by the law and by reality. One specific federal rule (F.R.C.P. 11) says that when a lawyer signs a pleading to be filed with a federal court in a civil case, they’re certifying to the best of their knowledge (after a duty of reasonable inquiry) that the filing isn’t made for an improper purpose, and that it’s supported by both law and fact. Section (c) of Rule 11 authorizes the court to sanction lawyers who don’t comply with the rule. What I remember, though, is that sanctions are rarely applied in practice, even when warranted; rather, we rely generally upon a common understanding of the norms of behavior and the goals of the broader system (including those enumerated in the rule) to limit frivolous and unsupported legal action designed only to exploit every possible ambiguity or loophole in order to win a case.

    I suppose that I am in despair to be reminded — yet again — that Republicans do not feel bound to act in good faith and in a procedurally sound and evidence-based manner, when so doing might limit their access to and exercise of power. If they were to accept the premises of the larger system, then they’d have to accept that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, just as in litigation (and, indeed, sometimes you win or lose when you didn’t merit it or shouldn’t have expected to — I’m looking at you, Susan Collins). If Republican officeholders don’t buy into the system in which their offices purport to exist, that’s what the former lawyer in me would call a “bad fact”.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      …the title of the post captures precisely what has been keeping me on edge this week, which is the complicity at the level of Republican officeholders. …[who] don’t seem to feel any commitment to the legitimacy of the greater system whatsoever; they are acting as though that system is just a tool, to be used to perpetuate themselves in power. That is, to say the least, a disappointment, but beyond that it’s unsettling to me for what it may portend.

      John Dean has explained this dynamic and its psychological roots in his “Conservatives without Conscience”*.

      Mitch McConnell must feel emboldened.
      He could easily put a lid on the behavior Marcy describes in this post, which is only one reason that I strongly concur with your comment.

      * Unfortunately, I have only previewed his “Authoritarian Nightmare”, and hope to read it.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is not “theater”: Trump is “fighting” to remain president – a battle he knows he’s lost – because 72 million people who voted for him “deserve a fight.”

    What is theater is selling the idea that that is Trump’s motivation.

    • subtropolis says:

      To the Republicans, who know that he is finished, but need Trump’s support to save their Senate majority, this very much is theatre. And it is very dangerous, both because they do not know just how far that lunatic will go, and this play-acting serves to support the delusional ravings of a well-armed mob.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      My emphasis was on the MSM irresponsibly dismissing Trump’s conduct as if it were theater, which makes their coverage irresponsible and the real theater.

      No doubt, Trump intends that his conduct will be seen as theater. It makes people underestimate him. But he knows his base hangs on his every word. He may not be able to hold onto power, but he’s intent on holding on to his base, hoping to avoid, for the first time in his life, real consequences.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There’s a game of chicken going on between House Dems and Biden’s campaign about pushing GSA director Emily Murphy – a stout Trump supporter, now enabled by a new GC – to do her job. Each is waiting for the other to make the first move. The pattern here is the one used by Louis DeJoy, which was only broken by Judge Sullivan.

    I have an idea. Pretend Joe Biden wants to stay above the fray for now. Instead of waiting for things to turn out all right in the end, Nancy Pelosi can tell her people to subpoena Murphy NOW. It’ll be days before she shows up, and days more before further action takes place. That might be a contempt citation or a writ of mandamus to Murphy from a federal court. (Or proceed with both simultaneously.) That won’t be the end of it, but it ups the ante – and imposes fucking consequences.

    That gives Murphy and Trump more time to screw around, but it puts the ball more publicly in their court. If Chuck Schumer feels left out, or grows tired of sitting on his thumbs, he can launch a series of hard speeches by ambitious Senators, demanding that the GSA do its job and follow the law. How does that scan, Nancy and Joe?

    • Nehoa says:

      Until there is some evidence that defying Congress has consequences, I don’t think that Congress can do much. Look at all the litigation on Congressional subpoenas. Either nothing decided or not in Congress’ favor. Relying on the courts (and DOJ) to enforce has been a joke. Until Congress can, on its own accord, enforce it’s subpoenas, they will be ignored.

      • Rwood says:

        There is no evidence that defying congress has consequences because Pelosi has never followed through. She pulls her punches every time in favor of “optics” and “shaming”, to which the GOP respond with “Consequences? Yeah, right.” and go right back to doing whatever they want.

        Pelosi is still living in a world where negotiation and compromise are viewed as the way to operate. She fails to realize that the republicans are operating as if they are at war.

        • bmaz says:

          This is exactly right.

          And, to also agree with Nehoa, would note that most House power as to subpoenas has gone either unused at all, and when used, meekly applied and/or withdrawn at a key moment. It has been not just feckless, but pathetic.

          They do even really try. And that includes refusing to use the inherent constitutional power of the impeachment investigation to streamline all of it. It is just depressing.

  11. Geoff says:

    I feel like people should be asking flat out, if this ISN’T a slow motion coup, what exactly would we be expecting to see team Trump doing that he isn’t already doing? I think it’s extremely dangerous to just laugh this off as theater when as far as I can tell, Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do, and has never expressed any inclination to leave office. If they can’t reasonably make a case that outlines how a coup via the legal system would look different than this, then they ought to be a bit more concerned than they seem to be. (they being the media, generally.)

    I know people want to laugh off these ridiculous legal challenges as some kind of joke, but you have to realize, they know as well as we do they have no evidence, so it is clearly not about making an evidence based case. It is about gumming up the system, preventing a handover, and then finding a way to keep this thing winding toward some process that involves bypassing the people’s votes and getting partisans to shift control of the election decision to the HOR. This has always been the plan, and now they are carrying it out. There was never going to be a victory via legal challenges, but those things sure are great for distracting people from what is really going on. I’m with Marcy on this one – not at all comfortable that we are in the clear. And the worst part, through all of this, is that not handing over the reins pretty much insures tens of thousands more avoidable deaths. Shameful.

    • Geoff says:

      I’ve decided to read through this again, to see where the storyline starts to deviate from reality.

      You have to get about three quarters of the way through before the first instance of unwarranted concerns are brought up, that of Trump caravans arriving and initiating violence at the polls. So, fear of violence, for now, can perhaps be dismissed. But you cant rule it out completely, in that those elements still have their guns and their itch to use them will only grow as the possibility of keeping Trump in power steadily dwindles. If he continues to refuse to leave, and it appears forces will try to drag him out, that might be the trigger for violence. Personally, Im not so sure we are in the clear on this issue…

      Moving past the worry of violence at the polls, we get right back on track with the storyline, with the important point that there is no one umpire that can call the election at this point. The plan at this point is to stall for time and have the forum for decision moved (presumably from the votes of people, to some other smaller group.) And this is precisely where we are. Between now and December 8, the safe harbor date, we can lose control of what people are presuming is a Biden victory. So we need to ask ourselves how each of the administration’s actions feed into this plan of deciding on electors. I don’t understand the process well enough to know how it might happen that electors set aside the will of the people, but it certainly seems that Gellman has thought this through and finds it a plausible outcome. Gellman asks :

      “To a modern democratic sensibility, discarding the popular vote for partisan gain looks uncomfortably like a coup, whatever license may be found for it in law. Would Republicans find that position disturbing enough to resist? Would they cede the election before resorting to such a ploy? Trump’s base would exact a high price for that betrayal, and by this point party officials would be invested in a narrative of fraud.”

      I think the evidence of the last four years, and the clear desire from 70 mil for an authoritarian leader, that they will have no problem throwing away their own votes for a chance to retain power. I dont think Trump’s base would exact any price at all, frankly. They are too invested in the false narrative of a massive election fraud.

      And apparently PA GOP leaders have already discussed the idea of having state legislators choose PA electors. So, what keeps Biden from losing PA after having already won it? Reading through the rest of the article seems to lay out the rest of the roadmap, and I feel like their are no exits.

    • subtropolis says:

      The “theatre” is the humouring of Trump. Either from lawyers who are willing to cash any cheque, or from Republicans who are thinking only about their Senate majority. Acknowledging that in no way diminishes the danger that said theatre could serve to make things a lot worse.

      The point is merely that McConnell and Barr are just going through the motions. They do not plan to be actors in Trump’s coup, for example. But they do run the risk of inadvertently supporting it.

  12. Bobster33 says:

    O/T Is Mnuchin still in jeopardy for not turning over Trump’s taxes? In January, when the new Congress is in session, they can subpoena (once again) Trump’s taxes. Will Steve be in jeopardy with the new AG?

  13. Valley girl says:

    re the headline THOSE COMPLICIT IN TRUMP’S FALSE STORY ABOUT THE ELECTION ARE WILLINGLY DAMAGING THIS COUNTRY, my view is that some are also WILLFULLY damaging this country for their own purposes.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      For those in power–and their handmaids–it is always all about the Benjamins.

      Bandy X Lee, MD, MDiv | @BandyXLee1
      A reporter who decries the NY Times’ enabling of Donald Trump echoes what many of you have said: “Maggie is … responsible for giving Trump’s side on numerous issues [as an ‘access journalist’ whose] mother works for a PR agency that has represented the Trump family for decades.”
      10:47 PM · Nov 8, 2020·Twitter

  14. pseudonymous in nc says:

    “And yet, instead of doing that reporting, these journalists treat these bogus claims as if there is some dispute about them. ”

    Yep. Even the better WH reporters like Ashley Parker are susceptible to this: the brand of inside-out reporting that gives precedence to what their sources say is at best meaningless without reporting the facts on the ground and the effects of their actions. At worst, it’s malpractice. The “objectives” don’t matter. Their actions of their sources have influence on people with entirely different objectives. They cause things to happen. They create pretexts.

  15. PeterS says:

    As a believer in the cock-up theory over the conspiracy theory pretty much every time, I’m of the view that there will be a lot of stupid barking, which will indeed be damaging, but this dog will not have any bite at all that affects the outcome of the election and Biden’s assumption of the presidency.

    Bless my heart :)

    (Sorry for making the dog metaphor work so hard)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Barr and McConnell are still Trump’s greatest enablers. Their and Trump’s recent conduct is not about any one thing, let alone solely about carving out a suitably wide exit strategy. Ruff.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ari Melber still thinks Donald Trump knows, cares about, and follows the rules, and that only his ego prevents him from acknowledging Mr. Biden’s victory.

    Melber is not a naif, he’s a sophisticated observer with an Ivy League background. So, I assume he’s sticking to that theme in imitation of the Biden camp’s “Nothing to see here, it will work out all right in the end. Trust me.”

    Joe Biden can get away with that public posture, as long as he has a full team working on Plans B and C, should Trump go postal (in or out of office). But the posture does not work well for Ari Melber. Plus, Melber’s analogies are as grating as his rap references.

    • MB says:

      …and his rap references definitely are grating! He does seem to have a split-screen personality. Trained lawyer for a few segments and infotainment provider for the rest.

    • Nehoa says:

      I think that if the Electoral College votes for Biden, Trump will act out, but will not actually try a coup. Not enough real firepower (in the actual sense of the word). Hitler had the SA and a lot of supporters in the WWI veteran population, not to mention experience in killing Communists, to credibly threaten to kill his opponents. Trump and his yahoos are not enough.

  17. skua says:

    This is a short list of possible benefits to Trump of challenging the validity of the election. Please add more benefits if you see them.
    A. Gather in money from those who think they are contributing to the cost of the challenges.
    B. Keep his base angry and active.
    C. Maintain appearance (for the deluded) of Trump as currently the only legitimate President in 2021.
    D. Maintain the “winning” and “pushing back against the Swamp” posturing for his brand.
    E. Increase anger and feelings of betrayal in his base towards the judicial branch.
    F. Continue to build and feed the Deep State/Swamp delusion/bubble.
    G. Pressure Repub politicians into publically “staying loyal” and keeps Trump politically significant.
    H. Portray a Biden’s Presidency as “disputed” to Trump’s base, setting up a 2024 run by a Trump.
    I. Create mayhem, disruption and distraction to allow advantageous opportunities, no matter how unlikely or treacherous, to be seized.

    • vvv says:

      J. Stall possible forthcoming divorce.
      K. Keep Hope Hicks nearby.
      L. Keep creditors off-balance as to prospects of collection, foreclosure, etc.
      M. Keep Putin happy.
      N. Keep pressure on/for GA candidates.
      O. Take chance on getting return value from Kavanaugh and Barrett.
      P. “Burrow” acolytes into civil service.
      Q. Forestall possible state and other prosecutions.
      R. Prolong minimal and/or non-response to pandemic.

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