Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Evangelical support for Trump is slipping

Writing an opinion piece for The Hill, Juan Williams shows how Trump’s base begins to crack. (Thanks to our Roving Reporter Sherry for the tip.) Following is the full post with block quotes suppressed.

Here is a checklist for fans of the “greatest of all presidents.”

Where’s the wall — and is Mexico paying for it?

Where’s the fabulous plan to replace ObamaCare?

Where’s the deal with North Korea to end their nuclear threat?

Where’s the racial healing in retweeting a supporter shouting “white power”?

Oh, didn’t he tell you in February the virus was going to magically disappear and then repeat it to you last week after more than 125,000 Americans died from it?

Now that’s a record of failure.

And here is one more question on empty promises for Trump’s biggest fans, white evangelicals:

Has Trump delivered for you after the Supreme Court’s recent rulings in support of gay rights and abortion rights?

Trump’s standing with evangelicals started fraying before the court’s decisions.

First, the failure to protect the country from the virus hurt him, especially with seniors.

Then evangelicals of all ages saw a lack of Christian empathy in his attacks on people standing together, across racial lines, to protest police brutality. “We’re one race and we need to love each other,” said Pat Robertson, a major evangelical leader.

To shore up his base, Trump is now resorting to open appeals to white racial grievance.

He has retweeted videos of black and white people fighting. Last week, he retweeted a video of a white St. Louis couple holding guns to threaten people marching for racial justice.

Putting fear into his white base — to get them back in line — can be seen in his damning comments on protestors. They are all “thugs,” and “hoodlums,” even as the instances of rioting are few amid overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations.

Similarly, Trump’s strategy includes demonizing people pulling down statues of Confederate generals. He says they are “terrorists.” He refuses to admit the damage done by ever-present symbols of white supremacy, including the Confederate flag.

So, exactly which white people are the audience for Trump’s acid politics?

Trump won 57 percent of the white vote in 2016. One-third of that support came from white evangelicals. Another 20 percent of Trump’s 2016 base of support came from white Catholics, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

That means white evangelicals and white Catholics made up half of the people who voted for Trump in 2016.

But now several polls showing Trump losing to Democrat Joe Biden by a substantial margin. The decline is due to sliding support from white evangelicals and white Catholics.

“In March, nearly 80 percent of white evangelicals said they approved of the job Mr. Trump was doing, [according to polling by PRRI],” the New York Times reported in early June.

“But by the end of May, with the country convulsed by racial discord, Mr. Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals had fallen 15 percentage points to 62 percent, according to a PRRI poll,” according to the Times story, by Jeremy W. Peters. The article noted that Trump’s white Catholic support is down 27 points since March.

David Brody, the chief political analyst for the Christian Broadcasting Network, recently told Politico that “any slippage” of Trump’s support among evangelical voters would doom him to defeat in November.

Trump is potentially losing those few percentage points of evangelical support in a nation showing increasing support for the Black Lives Matter movement but also dealing, as Brody put it, with “everything from the coronavirus to George Floyd and Trump calling himself the ‘law and order president.’"

If evangelicals are the target of Trump’s racial grievance strategy, the bull’s-eye on that target are white people without a college degree.

Since the end of May, Trump has lost 15 percentage points of support among whites without a college degree, according to an average of polls by The Washington Post.

He had a 37-percentage point lead among those voters over Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is now down to a 22-point lead over Biden.

There is deadly political consequence for Trump’s reelection bid in those numbers.

The loss of those voters is a big reason behind a June New York Times poll showing Trump and Biden basically tied among white voters.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Biden currently leading Trump in six states Trump won in 2016: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.

With four months to go before Election Day, all Trump can do now is ask his evangelical supporters to overlook his failures in exchange for more promises, especially continuing to pack the federal courts with conservative judges who are hostile to abortion rights and gay rights.

He thinks that promise will be enough to motivate evangelicals and Catholics to turn out for him.

“You won’t have religious liberty — you won’t have anything,” if Biden wins in November, Trump predicted in a recent interview with his former press secretary Sean Spicer, after highlighting his appointment of “two Supreme Court justices.”

If a few evangelicals decide a few more judges aren’t worth sacrificing their most cherished principles of Christian love and morality, they may end up voting for a white Catholic.

His name is Joe Biden.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Trump's bible stunt is not the bottom. He aspires to become a worse version of himself

Or so it seems.

Trump Is Only Going to Become a Worse Version of Himself Before Election Day writes Daily Beast Special Correspondent Michael Tomasky. Trump won’t do anything to reverse his downward slide. He’s incapable of change—but he has no desire to change either.

That Mt. Rushmore speech will go down as one of the sickest, most debased moments in the history of the presidency. First of all, it was officially not a campaign speech, but a presidential speech, meaning that we the taxpayers paid for it. More importantly Donald Trump was delivering this address not as a political candidate but as the servant of the whole people, those who voted for him and those who did not. And what he gave us was a Goebbels-esque piece of propaganda quite literally intended to foment as much division and hatred as possible.

If you think this distinction between campaign speaking and official speaking is quaint or trite or unimportant, you are wrong. You are overly cynical. Politicians actually do make such distinctions. Especially presidents—of both parties.

Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Independence Day address—from the year in which he, like Trump now, was seeking re-election. I do not like Reagan. Never did, never will. But compared to Trump, he was a moral giant. His speech did not touch on the dark aspects of our history that we are finally, belatedly confronting in earnest today. Republicans have a very hard time admitting imperfection in our union, not least Republicans who made a point of giving a major campaign address—about states’ rights, no less—in a town in Mississippi where three civil rights workers had been viciously murdered 16 years before, as Reagan did in 1980.

Still, Reagan’s speech that July 4 of 1984 was completely presidential. This part even brought a little tear to the corner of my eye: “And in a courthouse somewhere, some of the newest Americans, the most recent immigrants to our country, will take the oath of citizenship. Maybe today, someone will put his hand on the shoulder of one of those new citizens and say, ‘Welcome,’ and not just as a courtesy, but to say welcome to a great land, a place of unlimited possibilities. Welcome to the American family.”

Can you imagine this president talking like that? I suppose it’s possible that he has—that some desperate aide talked him into attending a citizenship ceremony somewhere along the line. But we know that he doesn’t think this way. He thinks about hatred and race and how he can crush people.

As he’s been slipping in the polls these last few weeks, we’ve heard some commentators and a number of “concerned” or “disappointed” Republicans say that Trump needs to right the ship, to reach out to swing voters and suburban women, to salvage Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin and stop with the endless splenetic rage. These people are either soulless robots or proud liars, or they hold PhDs in Wishful Thinking from Susan Collins University.

Most politicians, of course, would do just that. But Trump won’t change. He can’t. That is, he couldn’t even if he wanted to, because emotional 5-year-olds, like real 5-year-olds, are incapable of such self-reflection. But he doesn’t even want to. He loves himself (even though deep down he also hates himself, which is the source of the psychodrama we’ve all been Hoovered into for four years), and he loves things just the way they are. He thinks he’s doing great.

We have to be clear about all this, incredible as it may seem. He thinks he was the best president ever before the virus hit. Not since Reagan or since Roosevelt or even since Lincoln. Ever. He thinks the virus was a Chinese/Democrat plot to weaken him. He thinks he’s handled the pandemic exceptionally well. He thinks we’re past the worst of it. He thinks we’ll all be fine if we just quit being such desiccated little buttercups and get back to normal, as if the virus will observe us going to the movies and attending sporting events and give up, cry uncle, admit defeat against an indomitable, mask-mocking people.

He thinks he is loved. And of course, tragically, he is, by millions of people. He is hated by millions more, many more than love him, but he can’t remotely begin to fathom this or, God forbid, try to figure out why, because to him the problem is not him, but them.

So if you think all that, why would you change? Nothing needs changing. Indeed, you double down, you intensify, you just do more more more, because you were the best president ever and the people love you and the virus, which you handled as beautifully as that Ukraine phone call, isn’t your fault and everybody knows it.

And that is all he is going to do between now and Election Day, become a more intense version of Trump. I’m out of the election prediction business since 2016, so I’m not going to predict an outcome. But I will say this: He’s not going to do anything to change his current downward trajectory. Oh, and that’s another thing he thinks. He thinks the polls are fake news. They’re campaign manager Brad Parscale’s fault, like the lame crowd in Tulsa. So he doesn’t need to change a thing. He’s going to get worse and worse such that by Election Day, that June 1 Bible stunt will rank as maybe the fourth or fifth most offensive thing he’s done, at best.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden. I don’t know what they’re putting in that guy’s coffee, but once again, he sent out a magnificent little video address on Independence Day, which you really should watch. Our founding principles and ideals, he said, have “gnawed at our conscience and pulled us toward justice. American history is no fairy tale. It’s been a constant push and pull between two parts of our character—the idea that all men and women are created equal, and the racism that has torn us apart. We have a chance now to give the marginalized, the demonized, the isolated, the oppressed a full share of the American dream… This Independence Day, let’s not just celebrate the words, let’s celebrate that promise and commit to work, the work we must do to fulfill that promise.”

The other day, Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin made the contrast quite clear.

… Biden offers a vision of a country that stands “ready to lead again, not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

You can have that guy or the raving, paranoid one peddling hate and dystopia. The choice is not even close.

The bankrupt president - how Trump's presidency might end

Trump’s Presidency Is About to Enter Chapter 11. As the walls close in on him, what will Trump do? Nicholas Grossman, a political science professor at the University of Illinois writing in thebulwark.com, proposes some answers. Following are excerpts.

First, he could just cheat.

… Trump’s problem is that … electoral shenanigans only pay off at the margins. Maybe they can swing a closely-divided state, but they can’t overcome the kind of 5- and 7-point deficits Trump is seeing in most battleground state polls.

Which means he’d need to do something next-level, like changing vote totals, suspending the election, or refusing to leave after a certified loss. And those would be extremely difficult.

Large-scale vote tampering would take a massive operation  and be difficult to hide. Changing Election Day requires an act of Congress. Refusing to leave after a loss would require support from the military and the Secret Service.

[Scriber:] Might we pause here and contemplate “support from the military.” Not a lot, actually. See this story about generals speaking out,

Trump could certainly contest a close election. Definitely if it’s within recount range. And if Trump’s leading on Election Night, but mail-in ballots give Biden the victory a week later, Trump could cry fraud, launch lawsuits, tell his supporters that it’s not over, and fight it out all the way to the Supreme Court. (Neil Gorsuch being the deciding vote against Trump would be the greatest irony of them all.)

But contesting an unambiguous loss takes on a lot of additional risk — to himself and his family, let alone the country — for a relatively low chance of success. The man who went to the White House bunker in response to Black Lives Matter protests probably doesn’t have the stomach for the public reaction if he loses and tries to stay.

Especially when there’s another option.

He could just bail.

Donald Trump talks about #winning so much that people often forget that one of the defining aspects of his life have been his bankruptcies.

Going bankrupt taught Trump a very important lesson: If you fail, make sure other people pay the price.

Trump’s companies have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times, and he sometimes managed to make money for himself even as the business went broke. With his Atlantic City casinos, Trump had the company pay him millions in salary and bonuses before filing for Chapter 11, stiffing contractors and creditors, and leaving his partners holding the bag. Stock and bond holders lost over $1.5 billion. And, using now-illegal accounting tricks, Trump even managed to get hundreds of millions in tax write-offs for himself.

Well, Trump’s presidency is going bankrupt. Which means that he will put himself first and get out with as much as he can, screwing over whoever he has to on the way out the door. In this scenario, after losing the election Trump would focus more on issuing pardons and setting up new business ventures than trying to remain in power.

Pardons! Maybe Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort, all confessed or convicted lawbreakers. Maybe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who allegedly misused government resources, bypassed Congressional regulations to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, and then got the inspector general investigating it fired. Maybe Jared and Ivanka, Don Jr., and — sure why not — Eric. The pardon power is basically unlimited.

Except for this: can a president pardon himself? Lawyers are on various sides of that question, and it hasn’t been tested. Maybe we’ll find out.

Or maybe Trump will resign in January so Pence can pardon him.

… there’s also the possibility Trump thinks his presidency is ending and is running his old bankruptcy play, projecting confidence while anticipating a loss — a loss that he won’t let land on him.

The flawed thinking behind TRump's flawed speech

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post) knocks Trump’s ‘Toe-tally-terry-tism’ speech.

Perhaps President Trump’s remarks at Mount Rushmore on Friday will become known as the super-spreader speech, where a few thousand people, nearly all unmasked, sat next to each other (on chairs actually tied together, which prevented social distancing) in rapt attention and thereby duplicated the monstrously dangerous stunt Trump recently pulled in Tulsa. Maybe it will be vaguely remembered as the worst Independence Day speech in American history. I’m betting it will be known as the “toe-tally-terry-tism” speech …

It was not simply his slurred speech (Trump also mangled the pronunciation of Ulysses Grant, as if he had never seen in print the first name of the Union general who clobbered the Confederate generals Trump still tries to venerate) that conveyed the impression there is something just not right with the 45th president. It was not merely Trump’s sweaty, oddly colored pallor; his squinting to read the teleprompter; or the uneven pacing of his reading, which at times threatened (promised?) to grind to a halt. No, it was the darkly aggressive and fascistic substance of his speech: positing that his enemies want to destroy America and eradicate its history.


Now, if you were looking for normalcy, sanity, actual patriotism and something uplifting, you could have read former vice president Joe Biden’s July 4 op-ed. His vision of America is one of ever-expanding freedom:

Our democracy rose up from the ground when we ended slavery and ratified the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. It rose higher when women fought for suffrage — and won. It was fortified when a lawyer named Thurgood Marshall persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down “separate but equal” and blaze a trail for opportunity in Brown v. Board of Education. And when our nation opened its eyes to the viciousness of Bull Connor and the righteousness of the Freedom Riders — and responded with outrage, and a new Civil Rights Act and a Voting Rights Act — we built it stronger still.

… Biden offers a vision of a country that stands “ready to lead again, not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”

You can have that guy or the raving, paranoid one peddling hate and dystopia. The choice is not even close.

Max Boot (Washington Post) provides additional reasons for that choice because Trump is running an openly racist campaign, one that is

… at odds with public opinion that has shifted against Confederate monuments and in favor of Black Lives Matter. So he prefers to pretend that he is battling against the unreasonable demands of “cancel culture” — and his supporters pretend to believe him. But everyone knows that what he is really defending is not “our freedom” or “our history,” as he said on Friday, but, rather, “white power” — the words uttered by a Trump supporter in a video that the president himself posted on Twitter and later deleted but did not disavow.

Arizona - a state now in play

Nathaniel Rakich at 538.com explains How Arizona Became A Swing State.

For years, Arizona was to Democrats what Lucy’s football was to Charlie Brown. Despite candidates from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton investing in the state, no Democratic presidential candidate has carried it since Bill Clinton in 1996. In fact, no Democrat won a statewide election in Arizona on any level after 2008 until 2018, despite numerous close calls.

But Arizona is changing.

In the 2008 and 2012 presidential races, the state was 16 points and 13 points more Republican-leaning than the country as a whole, respectively.1 But in 2016, President Trump won Arizona by only 4 points, making the state just 6 points more Republican-leaning than the nation.2 And in 2018, four Democratic candidates broke through and won statewide, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Now, in 2020, Joe Biden looks like he has a chance to actually win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. As of June 29, Biden led Trump by 4.7 points in our Arizona polling average. And it looks like Democrats could flip another Senate seat here too, as Democrat Mark Kelly leads Republican Sen. Martha McSally by double digits in numerous polls.

Much of that is because of an extremely pro-Democratic national environment; according to our polling averages, Arizona is still a bit more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole (4.6 points more Republican-leaning, to be precise). But if the final election results were to exactly match our current polling averages, it would still represent the third consecutive presidential election where Arizona has moved left.

So what’s driving this shift?

Part of it is the same reason people have been predicting a blue Arizona for years: Latino voters. Along with the state’s small Black and Native American populations, Latinos constitute the Democratic base in Arizona. In 2016, a precinct-level regression analysis estimated that Clinton won more than 80 percent of the Latino vote in Arizona. And according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress, the share of eligible Latinos who voted also increased from 37 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2016.

And Arizona’s Latino population is swelling. The state has gone from 25 percent to 31 percent Latino since 2000. That said, the white population share in Arizona is still much higher (currently 55 percent). And many of Arizona’s Latinos are ineligible to vote: Among U.S. citizens who are 18 and older, white people are 65 percent of the population and Hispanic or Latino people only 23 percent. Worst of all for Democrats, low turnout rates mean Latinos constitute an even smaller share of the actual electorate: According to the CAP analysis, 2016 voters in Arizona were 73 percent white and only 17 percent Latino.

So this trend alone doesn’t explain Arizona’s sudden competitiveness, even though the Latino share of the electorate is slowly but surely increasing (it rose by 2 points from 2012 to 2016). The bigger factor at play is one that is not unique to Arizona, either: The movement of suburban voters from Republicans to Democrats since the 2016 election.

Politically, culturally and economically, Arizona is dominated by Maricopa County, which covers Phoenix and its sprawling metropolitan area. In the last several elections, Maricopa has consistently accounted for about 60 percent of the votes cast in Arizona, which means that the candidate who wins Maricopa usually wins Arizona.

And for years, it was a Republican. Unlike in many states, the most Democratic parts of Arizona actually lay outside its biggest metropolis: Apache County (which includes much of the Navajo Nation and is 75 percent Native American), Coconino County (home of Flagstaff), Pima County (home of Tucson) and Santa Cruz County (a poor, rural county that is 83 percent Latino). As a result, Democrats consistently did better in the rest of Arizona than they did in Maricopa — where most of the votes were.

Until 2016.

Clinton lost Maricopa County by just 3 points (48 percent to 45 percent), a drastic improvement from the last four Democratic presidential candidates. And, notably, she became the first Democratic presidential candidate since at least 1960 to do better in Maricopa than she did in the rest of the state (where she lost by 5 points). Sinema made even more inroads in 2018: She won Maricopa County 51 percent to 47 percent while losing the rest of the state 49 percent to 48 percent. In other words, Maricopa County was the reason Arizona voted Democratic in 2018.

Because of its size, Maricopa is home to all sorts of areas, from heavily Latino and Black South Phoenix to historically Mormon Mesa to the college town of Tempe to retirement communities like Sun City. But the county’s transformation has been led by upper-class suburban enclaves like Ahwatukee, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. According to data from Daily Kos Elections, the state legislative districts where Clinton improved on Obama’s performance the most also tended to be highly college-educated and have high median incomes.

Basically, Arizona’s urban vs. rural divide is deepening, just like the rest of the nation’s. But because Arizona is one of the most urbanized states in the country, that’s a good trade for Democrats. In fact, according to an analysis based on FiveThirtyEight’s urbanization index, if Arizona’s density had been the only factor in how it voted, it would have voted for Clinton by 6 points.

And that may happen for Biden this year. Since March, Biden has held a small but consistent lead over Trump in polls there. Most recently, a poll by Siena College/The New York Times Upshot — one of the best pollsters in the business — gave him a 7-point lead among registered voters (although this will probably shrink among likely voters). But for now, it looks like the Democratic Party’s newfound suburban strength, combined with the gradual growth of Arizona’s Latino population, is finally putting the Grand Canyon State in play.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Trump's biggest con - A coup d'etat as a path to preserving power

I’m going to start with an assumption, namely that Trump wants to hold onto power. Now he may not want to continue on with the election given that all the signs and polls are against him. But if he does, there are two ways for him to do so. #1: He can revamp his campaign and make drastic changes to his own behaviors thus winning the election fair and square. Not likely, given his speech last night (July 3rd), but let’s leave it on the table for now. #2: Trump uses presidential emergency powers to take over America, a horrifyingly plausible possibility.

Let’s look at each of these routes to continuance of Trumpian power.

First, Paul Waldman, Columnist for the Washington Post, describes How Trump can win reelection.

… the New York Times describes “frenetic, and often fruitless, attempts by top Republicans to soothe the president and steer him away from self-sabotage, while also manipulating him to serve their own purposes.” It’s so bad that aides are afraid to tell Trump the truth about how poorly he’s doing.

But here is another way that Trump could win “reelection.”

Fortunately, I have the answer they’re looking for. There is something the president can do to turn things around in the four months he has left before the election.

It’s not a staff shakeup, or a newly honed message, or a wittier nickname for Biden. All he has to do is change absolutely everything about how he confronts the two great crises facing the country. In other words, if he wants to get reelected, he needs to do his job.

Waldman then describes the various actions Trump could take to get us public safety by responding sensibly to the coronavirus and economic security by putting money into the economy.

If the president made this turn tomorrow, the pandemic and the economic crisis wouldn’t be behind us by Nov. 3. But at least we’d be headed in the right direction, and it would be possible that voters would decide that he’s doing a good job and he deserves to stay in office.

But of course, he won’t do any of that. The relatively simple things I’ve laid out here read like an absurd fantasy. Doing the job of president at the moment when America needs him the most runs against everything Donald Trump is.

Second, bmaz, a contributor to emptywheel.com, raises a chilling specter, MAYBE TRUMP REALLY IS NEVER GOING TO LEAVE.

… 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.

[Scriber]: Here is the video clip. It is worth watching as Wirth runs down possible remedies.

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.

Susan Rice - Trump is 'utterly derelict in his duties'

Why Does Trump Put Russia First? asks former national security adviser Susan E. Rice. It’s exceedingly difficult to believe that no one told the president about the intelligence on Russian efforts to harm Americans in Afghanistan.

Since at least February, and possibly as early as March 2019, the United States has had compelling intelligence that a committed adversary, Russia, paid bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan. American service members were reportedly killed as a result.

To this day, the president of the United States has done nothing about it.

Americans have a right to know the answer.

… If Mr. Trump was told about Russian actions, why did he not respond? If he was not told, why not? Are his top advisers utterly incompetent? Are they too scared to deliver bad news to Mr. Trump, particularly about Russia? Is Mr. Trump running a rogue foreign policy utterly divorced from U.S. national interests? If so, why?

A perilous pattern persists that underscores Mr. Trump’s strange propensity to serve Russian interests above America’s. Recall that, during his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump publicly urged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and praised WikiLeaks for publishing stolen documents.

He denied and dismissed Russian interference in the 2016 election, then took Mr. Putin at his word at a Helsinki meeting while undercutting the U.S. intelligence community, and obstructed the Mueller investigation and distorted its findings. Mr. Trump recklessly removed U.S. troops from northern Syria and allowed Russian forces to take over American bases.

Next, Mr. Trump unilaterally invited Mr. Putin to attend the Group of 7 meeting, a move that apparently upended the organization’s annual summit. Subsequently, without any consultation, Mr. Trump announced his decision to remove nearly a third of U.S. troops from Germany — a sudden and inexplicable withdrawal that weakens the U.S.-German relationship and harms NATO, while benefiting Russia.

Most recently, we have learned that even Russian efforts to slaughter American troops in cold blood do not faze this president. Mr. Trump brushes off the information, evades responsibility and fails to take action — not even lodging a diplomatic protest. Now Mr. Putin knows he can kill Americans with impunity.

What must we conclude from all this? At best, our commander in chief is utterly derelict in his duties, presiding over a dangerously dysfunctional national security process that is putting our country and those who wear its uniform at great risk. At worst, the White House is being run by liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.

We keep recycling back to the central question. What does Russia have on Trump?

(Thanks to Sherry, our Roving Reporter.)