Saturday, June 13, 2020

Prospects for a peaceful, constitutional transfer of power on Nov. 4

If the 2020 election were held today, all signs are that Trump would lose to Joe Biden. Forbes.com has documentation in Republicans Are Breaking From Trump Like We’ve Never Seen. Here are some of their facts and conclusions.

TOPLINE Much of the Trump presidency has been defined by the president’s uncanny ability to bring the GOP in tow, but in recent weeks—with the nation battling two separate crises and the White House response to the turmoil under scrutiny—members of the party have begun to distance themselves from the president in unprecedented fashion.

KEY FACTS

  • Few Republicans supported Trump’s highly controversial photo op in front of St. John’s Church (which was made possible only after protesters were cleared with tear gas and flash bangs) and several GOP senators “cringed” at Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning suggesting that a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo—who was shoved backward by the police and bled from his head after falling—might be a member of Antifa, Politico reported.
  • Trump’s ability to divide the country by discovering and exploiting wedge issues also appears to have lessened, as some Republican leaders and large swaths of the business community are openly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and the White House instead focuses its efforts on the economy, and promoting “law and order,” as the president often tweets.
  • Hours after President Trump declared that his administration “will not even consider the renaming” of army bases named after Confederate generals, the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee privately adopted an amendment Wednesday for the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate generals from military assets within three years, CNN reported.
  • Several high-profile Republicans have recently said they will not support the president’s reelection bid, including former President George W. Bush, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the New York Times reports; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters last week she’s “struggling” with whether to vote for the president in November.
  • The dissent from inside the GOP also comes on the heels of plummeting poll numbers for Trump: Trump’s approval rating has dropped ten points since May and has fallen below the 40% mark, according to the latest Gallup poll, and polling analysts say the president is in deep trouble come November.
  • He’s also facing dissent from the military: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark A. Milley said Thursday he “should not” have been at the church photo op; Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week he was opposed to sending active-duty soldiers into American cities; and in a statement published in The Atlantic on June 3, former Defense Secretary James Mattis slammed the photo op and added he was “angry and appalled” that he has seen police officers “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”
  • Still, while Republicans are distancing themselves from the president on certain issues in recent weeks, few—besides Romney and possibly Murkowski—are jumping ship entirely, afraid doing so would lead to defeat during their next election, the Washington Post reports.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

In a widely read statement published by The Atlantic, former Defense Secretary Mattis said he was “angry and appalled” that he has seen police officers “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.” He also excoriated Trump’s photo op in front of St. John’s Church. “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” he said.

So if Trump loses, what then?

Trump says he’ll leave office peacefully if he loses in November reports politico.com. “Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” Trump said Friday.

President Donald Trump sought to brush aside fears he might not leave office willingly if November’s election doesn’t go his way.

“Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” he told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner in an interview that aired Friday. If he doesn’t win the election, Trump continued, “you go on, do other things.”

Though the president has never given any serious indication that he might not leave office if he were to lose reelection, his comments aired Friday appear to be the first time he has publicly committed to doing so.

All that’s promising, right? Read on.

Still, he told Faulker that if he loses, “I think it would be a very bad thing for our country.”

Faulkner posed the query after former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s likely Democratic rival in November, raised the prospect during a TV appearance on Wednesday.

In an interview on “The Daily Show,” Biden warned Trump could “try to steal this election” by attempting to suppress votes, pointing to the president’s fervent opposition to mail-in voting and his unfounded allegations that widespread mail-in voting was ripe with fraud.

Host Trevor Noah then asked the vice president if he’d given any consideration to what would happen if Trump refused to leave office at the end of his term, to which Biden replied that he had.

“I was so damn proud to hear that four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, ‘Whoa we’re not a military state, this is not who we are,’” Biden told Noah, a reference to rebukes of Trump for his attempts to militarize the response to nationwide protests.

“I promise you, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch,” Biden said.

Biden’s warning comes as recent polling shows the former vice president taking the lead across national polls five months out from the election.

No term limits? “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot”

Trump regularly trolls his critics on the issue, joking at campaign rallies and on various occasions about extending his presidency past the constitutional limit of two terms. In addition to the president’s vocal accusations of widespread voter fraud and claims of “rigged” American elections, of which there is no evidence, Trump has sometimes suggested that his supporters might “demand” he remain in office past his second term.

In 2018, when China’s ruling Communist Party eliminated that country’s two-term limit and paved the way for President Xi Jinping to serve indefinitely, audio leaked of Trump apparently joking at a closed-door fundraiser, “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

That’s point 1. Point 2 is that this a man who lies about everything.

The man of 19,127 lies

The Washington Post’s fact-checking team published A thorough catalogue of President Trump’s lies. According to a tally by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker team, President Trump made 19,127 false or misleading statements from his inauguration through June 1.

That’s not an encouraging context for his promise “if I don’t win, I don’t win.”

You saw his tax returns, right?

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