Even after the madness of the last four years, today’s news cycle will be extraordinary. We don’t know how messy, or absurd, or violent it may get, but we do know this: today will put an exclamation mark on the deplorable ending of Donald Trump’s disgraceful presidency.
Welcome to the Countdown Journal. Today is the day that Congress counts the Electoral College votes. There are 14 days until the Inauguration of Joe Biden.
In retrospect, Lindsey Graham was prophetic.
In his single term, Donald Trump has managed to lose not just the presidency, but also the House, and now the Senate. The final votes from Georgia aren’t in yet, but Democrats have won both senate seats there, suggesting that perhaps embracing Trump’s deranged coup attempt was not, after all, good politics.
Make no mistake, the stunning double defeat was entirely about Trump. And Trump will lose again today in Congress after a debate that will be both clownish and dangerous.
He will not only leave office in ignominy, but also leave behind a deeply wounded and divided GOP that has done so much to enable his mendacity and idiocy.
And by idiocy, I mean this:
Let’s take a moment to ponder this final shit sandwich that Trump is offering congressional Republicans.
Of all the moronic takes in a sea of insanity and stupidity, the president has settled on the most absurd. No, Mike cannot “send it back.” The vice president cannot overturn a presidential election. No rational human being thinks that he can.
Even members of the Sedition Caucus are embarrassed.
So what can we make of Trump’s latest gibberish?
Let’s rewind the tape: Trump has tried everything he can think of to steal the election: he has lied about the process, spread baseless conspiracy theories, and bullied election officials.
He tried to get the Department of Justice to find evidence of massive fraud; it wasn’t there.
He tried to get the courts to overturn the results; and failed. He failed in state courts, federal courts, federal appeals courts, and in the U.S. Supreme Court.
He tried to get state legislatures to nullify the popular vote; and failed. He tried to get Republicans in Congress to refuse to certify the election; and failed. He tried to get state officials to “find” him votes; and failed.
So now he is embracing the Louis-Gohmert-stupid-level notion of having Pence throw out the election.
By this point, even Trump must know that he is going lose. But he continues to look for scapegoats, and Mike Pence is today’s designated chump.
As Tim Alberta notes this morning, “imagine doing this to the one guy who's been relentlessly loyal to you for 4 years, never undermining you, always subjugating himself to you (often in humiliating fashion). For the millionth time: Trump has no loyalty to anyone but himself.”
We don’t know what Pence will do, and we don’t know how ugly today’s joint session of Congress will be.
But we do know the outcome.
After all the cynical posturing, bloviating, demagoguery, and buncombe, Joe Biden will win the Electoral College vote by a margin of 306 to 232. He will be sworn in on January 20.
The Hawley/Cruz putsch attempt will be full of sound and fury, but will signify nothing. Indeed, it was losing momentum even before the Georgia defeats underlined the political toxicity of the Trumpian Lost Cause.
Republican senators who have broken with the Sedition Caucus, include Mike Lee of Utah; John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota; Tim Scott of South Carolina; John Boozman of Arkansas, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Jim Infofe of Oklahoma.
As of this morning, 25 Republican senators had come out publicly against the move to block the vote count. So far, only 13 have signed on for the attempt to object. Another 13 senators have yet to take a position.
Ideally, no senator would have signed on to the absurd attack, but it seems likely now that 80 or more senators will vote against the attempt to subvert the election — a stunning bipartisan repudiation of Trump’s last stand.
The House will be much messier, but there is also growing opposition to the coup there:
We’ll be talking about this all day and, if you are a Bulwark+ member, you can join us later tonight:
All of this, writes Kevin Williamson in NR, is Trump’s final insult:
I have on many occasions criticized the abuse of the word coup in our politics, but that is what this is: an attempted coup d’état under color of law. It would be entirely appropriate today to impeach Trump a second time and remove him from office before his term ends.
No one who has participated in this poisonous buffoonery should ever hold office again. There was a time when there was a plausible if sometimes self-serving rationale for working for the Trump administration — that the president is a clueless poseur surrounded by crackpots and frauds, and that he desperately needs good counsel from responsible adults. But the Trump administration is not currently under the guiding influence of any such responsible adults — and there simply is no defending what it is up to. This cannot be excused or explained away.
Far-right online forums are seething with references to potential violence and urging supporters of President Trump to bring guns to Wednesday’s protests in Washington — in violation of local laws — as Congress meets to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Many of the posts appear to be direct responses to Trump’s demands that his supporters pack the nation’s capital in support of his bogus claims that November’s national vote for Biden resulted from election fraud. Congress’s largely ceremonial role in confirming Biden’s victory has emerged as a catalyst for expected unrest that has D.C. police and the National Guard deploying on city streets to quell potential trouble.
Talk of guns and potential violence is rife on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, the conservative social media site Parler and on thedonald.win, an online forum that previously operated on Reddit before the company banned it in June after years of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and calls for violence.
Scenes from last night:
And this was before Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate. Former congressman Denver Riggleman is worried:
Jake Tapper @jaketapperCongrats to everyone in politics and media who signed on to this totally sane and hinged effort, completely tethered to reality, not at all 🍌 🍌 https://t.co/dqfzS1zWmn
The GOP’s Georgia meltdown.
First a confession: I thought the Republicans would hold both seats and was, frankly, stunned by last night’s results. So, apparently, was much of what’s left of the GOP.
There’s no mystery about what happened: Donald Trump happened.
Based on the early numbers, Democratic turnout — especially among African Americans — was phenomenal. Republican turnout was meh.
How bad is all for the GOP? On a scale of 0 to 10, Nate Silver tweeted this morning, it’s probably a 9 “not just because of the immediate implications, but also because it may imply that Trump is sort of a poison pill for how the party navigates its future.”
The big question now is whether the GOP has learned any lessons from this debacle? Probably not.
1. A Big Winner in Georgia: Joe Biden
Now it’s not, as some have assumed, that he’d have been utterly thwarted in his plans and appointments and legislation by Mitch McConnell and a Republican majority in the Senate. Nor is it the case that President Biden will have an easy time with a 50-50 Senate and a tiny margin in the House.
Still. It’s a big difference.
As a newly inaugurated president, as the man who not only defeated Donald Trump but brought the Democratic party back to power (albeit very narrowly), Biden will enter office with real momentum. Even Democrats, a notoriously unruly lot, will feel some obligation to go along with the new president.
And some Republicans will, too. Some congressional Republicans would like to be in the game and be able to play some role, even if a minor one, in legislation in return for their support. This will be the case especially if Biden begins mostly with legislative proposals—especially on the pandemic, and also some economic relief—that are reasonably easy for some Republicans to support.
2. January 6: The Fire Rises
This effort to interfere with the Electoral College count is going to fail, but it has created a blueprint for the next time. The next aspiring authoritarian—and there will be one—will be smarter, smoother, and more organized. Today will be truly dangerous because it will demonstrate that under the current system, a party that controls both houses of Congress can install their candidate as president regardless of the election results. All they need is the political will to do so.
Or to put it another way: All they need is to believe that overturning the election is what the majority of their base voters want.
3. Pennsylvania GOP’s Anti-Democratic Maneuver Is a Warning
In this morning’s Bulwark, Robert Davis Edelman writes about the nakedly cynical—and perfectly Trumpian—ploy in the PA state senate.
An appalling maneuver by Republicans in the Pennsylvania state senate on Tuesday shouldn’t be buried in the avalanche of other news this hectic week. It ought to be understood in three ways: as a direct result of Donald Trump’s own reality-denying post-election fight; as a profoundly anti-democratic action by state legislators in violation of their oaths of office; and as a harbinger of things to come.
4. “Ron Johnson Is Unfit”
Brutal editorial for Ronjon in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Ron Johnson's dangerous shilling for Donald Trump makes him unfit to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate”
But Johnson’s latest National Enquirer moment is the most unsettling of all because it attacks the very democratic republic he has sworn to serve.
How can this man possibly represent Wisconsin citizens when he wants to throw out the duly cast and certified votes of millions of Americans?
Johnson has joined a defeated candidate who is trying to nullify the voices of American voters while propagating baseless conspiracy theories about voting irregularities.
He has violated his oath of office and in doing so, Johnson has forfeited his right to represent the people of Wisconsin.
ETTD Update. “Prominent Foley & Lardner attorney resigns after participating in Trump call trying to upend Georgia election”.
Maggie Haberman @maggieNYT"In an email to her clients and friends,Ms. Mitchell blamed her departure on 'a massive pressure campaign in the last several days mounted by leftist groups via social media and other means against me,my law firm and clients of the law firm.'" @nytmike me https://t.co/eebyDxZGjy
F*** You, Ted Cruz (You un-American, anti-democracy, lying sack of sh*t)
What do you think you’re going to get from this, Ted? You’re already a senator and you’ll never be president. You already tried kissing up to Trump in 2016 in the vain hope that his candidacy would collapse and you could collect the pieces. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.
You’re too much of an elitist wuss for the MAGA crowd. They hear you talk. They saw how you came crawling back after Trump insulted your wife and called your father a murderer. They like Trump’s over-the-top reality show charisma, which you very much lack.
And you’re too much an opponent of the Constitution for the conservative establishment. The weaselly, technically-not-lying excuse won’t fly. “All I did was note the allegations” or “I just called for an investigation to restore confidence” is transparent bullshit. Maybe some rubes don’t understand the “just asking questions” style of conspiracy theorizing, but enough people do.