TRUMP TO CHALLENGE FOUR STATES; Recounts in WI, PA, GA, FL expected
Late last night, results from the three remaining undecided states were submitted. President-elect Biden took Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida by razor thin margins. With tabulation of the entire nation complete, Biden has won the Electoral College by a score of 334-204. The popular vote margin remained largely unaffected given the closeness of all three now-completed races. Ultimately, Biden and Harris carried 74.7 million votes to Trump’s 69.1 million in a race that saw the highest voter turnout in the country’s history. When President Trump tweeted at 3:00am that he would be addressing the nation at noon, America expected a concession. That did not happen.
At 9:00am, the nation came to a state of political paralysis after the President’s lawyer, Jay Sekelow, announced the Trump campaign will contest the results in four states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida, amounting to 75 Electoral College votes. Trump will need a reversal in all four states to remain in office for a second term. After months of vitriolic rhetoric about the “rigged” elections from the Trump camp, the Democrats had always planned for an electoral challenge but are now scrambling to mobilize against the number of contested states.
Each state has varying election laws regarding recounts; Georgia and Wisconsin states were decided within margins that legally permit the losing candidate to demand a recount. An automatic recount was triggered in Florida as the race was decided by less than 0.5%. Trump is suing for the right to a recount in Pennsylvania, despite losing the state by more than 1.0%. Sekelow and his team of lawyers are not just petitioning for recounts, but intend to file complaints alleging systemic election fraud so pervasive that it led to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Sekelow is asserting unnamed Democratic agents, acting on Biden’s behalf, have manipulated vote-by-mail tabulations by counting ballots of non-registered or duplicate ballots in sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the 2020 Election. During the campaign, Trump made continuous attacks on the efficacy of vote-by-mail and unsubstantiated claims of voter impersonation and foreign interference. In the age of Trump, a legal challenge of this significance is outrageous, but not surprising.
Sekelow is maintaining the will of the American people is being misrepresented despite Biden carrying approximately 5.6 million more popular votes than Trump. The Trump legal team claims if the election was carried out in an ethical manner, Trump would have been reelected by a significant margin. Regardless of Trump’s claims, the reality is voter fraud, mail-in or in-person, is exceptionally rare. Over the last two decades leading up to this election, over a billion absentee ballots have been cast; only 204 mail-in ballots, or .00006%, have been found to be associated with fraud. There have been numerous bureaucratic agencies established to monitor voter fraud so it remains scarce and ineffective. Trump disbanded his own voting fraud commission set up to investigate the 2016 Election after their report found no evidence of widespread voting-related misconduct. The burden of proving voter fraud of this proportion in the United States will be a difficult task for the Trump legal team. However, unlike the contested election of 2000, Trump comes to this fight with the full force and powers of an incumbent president.
Through his actions, Trump is inadvertently signaling he never intended to honor the results of a losing election. The legal undertaking of challenging a federal election in multiple states would take months or even years of preparation. Sekelow has an army of lawyers and the assets to initiate a challenge of this magnitude less than 48 hours after the election. During the 2016 Election, then-candidate Trump was outspoken about contesting the if he lost. Evidently, President Trump took the necessary steps to prepare for these circumstances. Attorneys representing the President have been dispatched to all four contested states.
After Sekulow’s appearance, the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner read a prepared statement from the White House press briefing room. Kushner asserted a vast conspiracy has been undertaken against the president along with numerous false statements and exaggerated statistics. The Press Secretary position has remained vacant since Kayleigh McEnany’s dismissal after a botched press conference where she was visibly unprepared to answer questions about police reform. Kushner has since fulfilled the Press Secretary’s duties in a pseudo-official capacity. Although the room was filled with socially distanced reporters looking for answers, Kushner’s remarks were seemingly directed at Trump supporters seeking to have their expectations validated by a White House attache. Kushner did not take questions.
Shortly after noon, Trump appeared behind the Resolute Desk for an address that was a cacophony of allegations, attacks and adlibs. Trump stated that he intended to fight for the authentic results of the election to be corroborated. In this destabilizing effort, Trump has deployed the power of the Presidency to sow doubt regarding the legitimacy of the election. Trump introduced a new, grammatically-questionable colloquialism encapsulating the position of the White House: “DEMOCRAT ELECTION HEIST”. #ElectionHeist went viral immediately.
Elizabeth Warren, rumored to be the leading candidate to become Biden’s Attorney General, has called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove the first children from Twitter after an election official singled out by Don Jr was left with minor injuries after being attacked outside his home in Florida. The man’s role within the state’s election commission was to oversee the issuing of civil fines for voting violations; no fines have been imposed this year. The President’s son tweeted out the man’s home address to his 5.1 million followers as retaliation for this perceived breach of conduct.
Over in the Senate, Mitch McConnell quietly announced the Republicans’ support of Steve Daines’ in his recount effort in the Montana Senate election. Kelly Loeffler’s run-off against Raphael Warnock is scheduled for mid-January. Although Loeffler has a campaign war chest that dwarfs Warnock’s, her insider trading scandal will equip the Democrat with considerable attack fodder. In the previous Congress, Republicans held a 53-47 majority in the Senate; McConnell has been left aghast by the diminishment of his power in the upper chamber. The GOP’s only chance at retaining majority power is through two long shot scenarios: a Loeffler victory in the runoff and Trump successfully overturning the Presidential election securing the Vice Presidential tie breaker. The second avenue for Republican majority power is a reversal by recount in Montana followed by a Loeffler victory. If Bullock’s victory is confirmed, and Warnock defeats Loeffler, the Republicans will be an outright minority in the Senate by a margin of 51D-49R, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. McConnell’s silence on Trump’s challenge is deafening.
The Kentucky Senator is not the only one making a political calculation about the future under a Democratic administration. The executives at Fox News have quickly repositioned the network to a more neutral stance on the election outcome. Most members of the Fox lineup are delaying positing a definitive take until the recount process has been completed. If Trump’s contest gains some legal legitimacy, Fox News may return to its typical glowing coverage of the administration. Currently, Lou Dobbs is the lone senior anchor on the record saying Trump should reject the election outright, in any circumstance. Calls for Dobbs’ termination have been swift and voluminous.
Other fringe conservative networks have stood steadfastly by Trump. OANN has published multiple articles depicting a conspiracy to unseat Donald Trump led by Barack Obama. Many of these extremist networks have been peddling unfounded attacks on Democrats for years; now, have they been endorsed as legitimate political discourse by a sitting President. This is concerning knowing the immediate future will be potent with dense election law that will go through many levels of distillation by the press.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s senior campaign manager, issued a statement expressing respect for the legal recount process. The Biden team is confident their electoral victory will be validated, upon which they expect Trump to honor the results of the election. O’Malley Dillon ended her press release by stating President-elect Biden will be addressing the nation within the next 24 hours.
Greg Shultz, who previously served as Biden’s campaign manager before stepping into a general strategist role, has insisted the Biden administration will not be hindered by Trump’s lack of cooperation. Biden’s experience as Vice President will prove to be critical if Trump refuses to grant customary transitional access to White House agencies. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was reelected by the 14th district of New York in a landslide, has expressed concern the threat posed by Donald Trump is being underestimated. Her worry is the party is inadvertently giving credence to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims and normalizing his election repudiation.
Now 48 hours after the polls closed, the lack of definitive election results has led to small demonstrations popping up in politically hegemonic areas across the country. Tensions are mounting in the country as the rightful occupation of the most powerful office in the world and the balance of power in Washington is at stake. When Trump’s court filings are presented this week, the 45th President's rhetorical rejection of the 2020 Election results exits the hypothetical and becomes a full-fledged Constitutional crisis.