Trump’s election legal strategy is all but doomed, but still could damage American democracy, experts say
First, President Trump lost the Nov. 3 election.
Now, Trump’s throw-it-all-at-the-wall strategy has apparently morphed into a brazen attempt to use his power as president to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. The effort seems to be aimed as much at fueling unwarranted doubts about election integrity among Trump’s supporters and soothing his ego as it does at actually preserving his presidency.
The audacious endeavor, which yielded a Friday White House meeting with Republican lawmakers from Michigan, appears all but doomed. Still, it is an unprecedented attempt to undermine the will of voters that could leave lasting scars on democracy, according to constitutional experts and former elected officials.
Republicans Are Going Down a Dangerous Road
“In elections going forward, not trying to steal the election will be seen as RINO behavior.”
“Where their hearts are is hard to know, but their behavior is not small-d democratic,” Susan Stokes, a political-science professor and the director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago, told me.
Stokes, like other experts, says the Republican Party is on a continuum toward the kind of “democratic erosion” visible in other countries, including Turkey under Recep Erdoğan, Hungary under Viktor Orbán, or, in the most extreme example, Russia under Vladimir Putin. In those nations, a party that wins office through a democratic election then seeks to use state power to tilt or completely undermine future elections.
Even in defeat, the GOP surrenders to the nutcases.
Off and on, for 25 years, I participated in National Review cruises as a speaker. I met lots of wonderful people who were intelligent, curious, and great company—but there were always cranks and conspiracy theorists too. Once, during the Clinton administration, people at my dinner table were repeating the story that Hillary had killed Vince Foster. I choked down my bite of chicken Kiev and responded, as equably as possible, “Well, for that to be true, she would also have had to transport his body to Fort Marcy Park without the Secret Service or anyone else noticing.” Several people at the table blinked back at me. Yeah? So?
It was a tell, though I didn’t know it at the time.
As for Ken Paxton, the Texas AG:
Tim Wu/NY Times:
What Really Saved the Republic From Trump?
It wasn’t our constitutional system of checks and balances.
What really saved the Republic from Mr. Trump was a different set of limits on the executive: an informal and unofficial set of institutional norms upheld by federal prosecutors, military officers and state elections officials. You might call these values our “unwritten constitution.” Whatever you call them, they were the decisive factor.
How Biden Should Investigate Trump
The misdeeds and destructive acts are legion. The new president should focus on these three.
But how much time can Biden spend looking backwards? Many presidents have taken office with challenges, even crises, immediately at hand. The examples are familiar, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Biden’s challenges as he enters office are larger and appear on more fronts than any other president’s since Abraham Lincoln. He faces a global pandemic that is still getting worse, and an economy that the pandemic has brought to its knees. America’s relations with most of its allies are badly frayed. Conflicts with China are mounting. Many of the federal institutions Biden will supervise have been neglected for decades, and intentionally corrupted and weakened during the past four years. Trust in civic and political institutions has dwindled. For his own ends, the outgoing president has deliberately sought to sabotage the electoral process itself.
“Your most important decisions at the start are what to exclude,” Jack Watson told me recently. In 1976, Watson was in charge of Jimmy Carter’s transition-planning staff as Carter prepared to take over from Gerald Ford, and four years later, as White House chief of staff, he was Carter’s coordinator for the transition to Ronald Reagan. He went on: “You have to separate what must be done, soon, from all the other things you might want to do later in the administration.”
‘God be with us’
Covid-19 becomes personal in a South Dakota town as neighbors die and the town debates a mask mandate
In a state where the Republican governor, Kristi L. Noem, has defied calls for a statewide mask mandate even as cases hit record levels, many in this rural community an hour west of Sioux Falls ignored the virus for months, not bothering with masks or social distancing. Restaurants were packed. Big weddings and funerals went on as planned.
Then people started dying. The wife of the former bank president. A state legislator. The guy whose family has owned the bike shop since 1959. Then Timmins, a mild-spoken 72-year-old who had worked with hundreds of local kids during six decades as a Little League and high school coach and referee.