Lazy Caturday Reads: Trump’s Failed Coup

Mary Fedden, Cat along the shore

Mary Fedden, Cat along the shore

Good Morning!!

I’m not too with it these days. I’ve had a nagging cold for a couple of weeks now and it isn’t going away. I’m afraid it might be turning into a sinus infection. I’ve been trying to keep up with the posts and comments as best I can. I got a coronavirus test last week just in case. It was negative. Anyway, I’m going to call my doctor’s office again on Monday if I don’t feel better. I just thought I’d let you know why I haven’t been commenting as much as usual. 

Trump is still trying to stage a half-baked coup. Here’s the latest on that pathetic story.

At The Daily Beast, William Bredderman provides a summary of Trump’s recent attempts to reverse the election results: The Desperate Final Gasps of Team Trump’s Flailing ‘Mini-Coup’

The past week saw Team Trump piling up losses and running out of road.

The campaign dropped its lawsuit to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan, while the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the campaign’s claim that COVID-19 restrictions had deprived GOP observers of their right to monitor the postal vote count.

Cat on the carpet, Gleb Baranov

Cat on the carpet, Gleb Baranov

Then, on Thursday night, with just four days remaining before both Michigan and Pennsylvania certify their results, Rudolph Giuliani and local lawyer Marc Scaringi dropped a wild new brief in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Probably the most audacious of the dozens of legal Hail Marys the campaign and Republican interests have hurled into the end zone since Election Night, the filing argues that the campaign’s constitutional rights have been violated and asks the judge to declare Trump the winner of the Keystone State’s 20 electoral college votes.

But, according to Charles Fried, solicitor general under Ronald Reagan, this brief’s legal claim hangs almost entirely on a single word: “meaningful”—as in the “meaningful observation of the canvassing of mail ballots.” The professor at Harvard Law School told The Daily Beast that, in this context, ”meaningful” has no meaning at all.

The suit makes essentially the same argument that the state Supreme Court rejected: that observers in several counties could not get as near to the tabulation as they wanted. Now, at the federal level, they argue the system in Pennsylvania violated the campaign’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment by denying them “meaningful” access.

According to Fried, however, “meaningful” has no legal definition, nor is it adequately described in the legal team’s filings.

“There’s no allegation here. It’s just an unsubstantiated claim, which was thrown out in several courts,” he told The Daily Beast. “And now they’ve gone to federal court. Why should the result be any different?”

Fried described this latest tack as “garbage”—the same way he characterized the Trump team’s legal efforts two weeks ago, before the campaign shed several attorneys and took on Giuliani and Scaringi.

Read more details about Trump’s garbage lawsuits at the link.

Dog and Cat, Alex Colville

Dog and Cat, Alex Colville

Also from The Daily Beast, by Asawin Suabsaeng and Sam Stein: Team Trump Leaders, Including Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, Have No Faith in Rudy.

While Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani embarks on a quixotic and potentially destructive effort to reverse the results of the 2020 election, much of the president’s official campaign apparatus wants to disown it.

Several officials in leadership positions on Trump’s re-election team, including campaign manager Bill Stepien, have recently told associates they have zero faith in Giuliani, and are currently waiting for what they view as a doomed, haphazard legal fight to burn out and end, according to four sources with knowledge of the situation.

One Trumpadviser called the current strategy a “dead end,” and said Giuliani’s high-profile attempts at drumming up legal obstacles to the certification of Biden’s election amounted to a hostile takeover of the campaign.”

“The obvious thing is, this is a shitshow,” the adviser said. “When the Rudy show started, that was a sidelining of everyone else. At that point, it became an issue of going through the motions and the recognition of, ‘OK, this is definitely over because we don’t have a chance with… these conspiracy theories.’”

But Trump apparently thinks what Rudy is doing is just ducky.

The sense of resignation felt privately by a chunk of the Trump campaign operation is at odds with the president’s personal assessment of how his long-shot efforts to recapture a second term are going.

Orovida Camille Pisarro

by Orovida Camille Pissarro

As of Friday night, two sources close to the president said he remained intensely invested and personally supportive of Giuliani’s legal challenges. It was presumed among campaign staff that he was thrilled with his team’s now-infamous press conference on Thursday, in which Giuliani, and two other allied lawyers—Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis—presented a smorgasbord of wild conspiracy theories about election fraud, including a lengthy explanation of how anti-Trump Venezuelan villains supposedly worked to rob Trump of legal votes. And, for that reason, there was little appetite for anyone to say anything questioning the current approach—at least with their name attached to it.

“It appears that none of us are allowed to say [publicly] that that was one of the weirdest fucking things we’ve ever witnessed,” one senior Trump administration official said, noticeably exasperated.

Click the link to read the rest.

Of course we have long known that Trump is out of his mind. This is from David Smith at The Guardian: Trump’s monumental sulk: president retreats from public eye as Covid ravages US.

There was one thing that even Donald Trump’s harshest critics were never able to accuse him of: invisibility….

Yet two weeks after his defeat by Joe Biden in the election, Trump has effectively gone missing in action. Day after day passes without a public sighting. He does not hold press conferences any more. He has even stopped calling into conservative media….

John French Sloan, Chinese Restaurant

John French Sloan, Chinese Restaurant

Amid the deafening silence, Trump’s only “proof of life” since Biden’s victory has been a handful of public events at the White House and a military cemetery, weekend outings to his golf course in Virginia and a barrage of tweets airing grievances and pushing baseless conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him.

“I don’t think we’ve had a president since Richard Nixon who is as far in the bunker and detached from the country as Donald Trump is right now,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota.

“Donald Trump has not only suffered a catastrophic political defeat, he’s clearly also suffering from a deep emotional break. This behavior is even more erratic than usual and he has retreated. He has put himself in a form of psychological isolation. His emotional state is clearly abysmal. In the popular lexicon, he’s lost it.”

Trump’s pathetic efforts are still dangerous, writes Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: The Danger (and Ineptitude) of Trump’s Failed Coup.

In his address to the Democratic National Convention in August, Barack Obama warned that the Trump administration “has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.” Kamala Harris began her first speech as vice-president-elect by saying “America’s democracy is not guaranteed.”

Felix Vallotton

By Felix Vallotton

Some may have dismissed this as mere hyperventilated campaign rhetoric. But in the days that followed the election, Trump fulfilled the stark prophecies. He has seized whatever powers he still has in his grasp to rattle the system and to take vengeance against his successor by leaving him with a ruin.

Trump has attempted to retain power much as he wielded it throughout his term: with a comic ineptitude of his means that made it difficult to absorb the seriousness of his ends. If you had predicted four years ago that Trump would finish his term by proposing to cancel the election and reinstall himself in a second term, you’d have been brushed off as a hysteric. And yet here he is attempting to do just that and recruiting Republican allies to his mad scheme. The certainty of his failure does not make the damage caused by the coup effort disappear. It simply makes it harder to see clearly. The surreality of Mussolini continually slipping on banana peels is the defining paradox of this sordid era.

To lead his attempted coup, Trump has turned once again to Rudy Giuliani. Just weeks before, Giuliani — who is the subject of a criminal investigation for his efforts to shake down Ukraine while working for Trump and who was colluding publicly with a man identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Russian spy — had produced what he called “evidence” of a global criminal plot by Joe Biden and his family. (Many people on the right spent the last ten days of the campaign scolding the media for failing to take his accusations seriously.) In the aftermath of the election, Giuliani emerged to claim he had uncovered yet another worldwide plot — this one even wider and more sinister in scope.

Read more at the link.

Emma Nelson by the Fire 1987 by Edward Bawden 1903-1989

By Edward Bawden 1903-1989

Peter Nicholas at The Atlantic: The 3 Norms Trump Could Still Break.

America has seen little of Donald Trump since the election. Speaking to the nation largely through Twitter, he’s barely strayed outside the White House as he absorbs a defeat that shattered the myth he created of his own invincibility. Still, he’s been busy—firing officials he deems disloyal and plotting ways to stay in power. He can’t and won’t overturn the election result, but he can cause plenty more havoc on his way out. Some of the ways would be immediately evident; others, hidden.

“We’re going to have to be very vigilant in the next two months for abuse of the pardon power, awarding of contracts to friends and family, and destruction of records, as well as policy decisions to box in the incoming administration,” Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who helped prosecute the case against Trump in the Senate impeachment trial earlier this year, told me.

Trump, too, may feel boxed in, and for that reason he may be more prone to acting out. Congressional investigators still want to see his tax records. Prosecutors in New York are scrutinizing his business practices. The Biden administration will face intense public pressure to examine the money that flowed to Trump’s hotels and golf clubs over the past four years.

Soon enough, Trump will be stripped of the leverage that arms presidents looking to protect their interests. As he confronts an uncertain future, he could stretch or smash the boundaries of presidential power in ways no one else has tried. He could damage the basic notion that presidents are accountable for their actions and answerable to the law. All of which makes the interregnum before Joe Biden’s swearing-in an especially precarious time.

Nicholas writes that Trump could:

1) try to pardon himself (and his compatriots)

2) try to ditch important records.

3) spout state secrets.

Read the Nicholas’ detailed arguments at The Atlantic link.

That’s it for me today. I’m going back to bed. Take care everyone!