Trump’s false claims and the ground reality - GulfToday

Trump’s false claims and the ground reality

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump at the White House. File/Reuters

Donald Trump is making his last stand in the White House, falsely claiming he won the presidential election and trying to subvert the certification in key states of the vote for president-elect Joe Biden. Trump has failed in Georgia where he lost by only 12,000 votes, in Michigan where he lost by nearly 155,000, and in Pennsylvania, where he lost by 81,813. Michigan is a particularly ironic target because Trump won the state in 2016 by only 10,000 votes.

For Trump to succeed in the effort to nullify the results in key states, state legislatures would have to overturn vote counts and this process would have to be upheld by Congress and, perhaps, the Supreme Court.

Trump’s campaign is exploiting the certification process which varies from state to state with the overall deadline being December 8th. So far, Biden has received only 35 Electoral College votes although, according to the count, he won 306, while Trump has 63 Electoral College votes while he has 232. Therefore, by putting pressure on six states, five of them with Republican-dominated legislatures, Trump seeks to force them to ignore the popular vote and appoint electors to back his cause when the Electoral College meets on December 14th.

Georgia has already certified the result, Michigan and Pennsylvania are set to do this today, Nevada tomorrow, Arizona November 30th, and Wisconsin December 1st. This process has given Trump scope to try to challenge the result, but time is rapidly running out.

Trump began by ramping up pressure on Michigan and Georgia. Last week two senior Michigan Republican lawmakers summoned to the White House by Trump rebuffed his demand that they overturn the result in their state. They made their position clear by stating that they did not have information that would change the outcome. Consequently, they vowed to “follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors.” They also warned Trump to stop interfering: “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation.” This means that electors who cast Michigan votes in the Electoral College will give their votes to Biden.

On Friday, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified Biden’s victory in that crucial state after a hand recount and audit were carried out. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or courts, or of either campaign,” he stated. Although a Trump supporter he has been under massive pressure from the White House to somehow disappear the more than 12,000 votes which gave Biden the state’s Electoral College votes.

An effort by the Trump team to exclude millions of Biden votes in Pennsylvania has been dismissed by a Federal Judge Matthew Brann who wrote, “This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.” In the US no one can “justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

Republican legislators in Washington have not been as courageous as local officials in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Most senators and members of the House of Representatives remain mute in the face of Trump’s assault on the vote which is the basis of US democracy.

One exception is Mitt Romney, a senator from Utah, who stated, “Having failed to make even a plausible case [for] widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, [Trump] has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election. It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting [US] president.” Romney is a special case. He knows Michigan well. He is the son of George Romney who was governor of the state from 1963-69. Mitt Romney has had a largely honourable career in the Republican party which has been debased and defiled and following its capture by rightist movements and Trump.

While governor of the eastern seaboard state of Massachusetts from 2003-2007 Romney adopted a progressive health care programme which was the model for former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that the Republicans seek to overturn. Romney ran for president in 2012 and lost to Obama. Romney refused to vote for Trump or his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. After establishing his residency in the state of Utah, Romney ran for senator in 2018 and won. He was the only Republican senator to vote to impeach Trump, becoming the first senator in US history to impeach a president who is a member of his own party. In June, Romney was the first senator to join a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd by suffocation under the knee of a policeman. Following the November 3rd election, Romney was the first Republican senator to congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris.

Two other Republican senators have criticised the Trump campaign but did not take as strong a stand as Romney. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who retires at year’s end, said Biden had a “very good chance” of becoming the next president and the loser should “put the country first”.

Having secured another six-year term, Susan Collins of Maine argued that there is a “right way and a wrong way” to contest alleged election irregularities. “The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials.” Having failed to present credible data to mount challenges in courts, team Trump is resorting to suborning state officers.

While Trump continues to battle the result of the presidential election, Republican senators are threatening to block Biden’s nominees for cabinet positions starting with fellow Senator Bernie Sanders who is being touted as labour secretary. A self-confessed democratic socialist, Sanders is seen by Republicans as a leftist ideologue. Others likely to be rejected are Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Susan Rice, Obama’s former national security adviser. Consequently, the deep fissure in the US body politic is certain to continue, particularly if one or both Republican senators win re-election in the January 5th run-off vote in Georgia, giving their party a slim majority in the Senate, which confirms or rejects nominees for government posts. If both seats are won by Democrats, however, there would be a 50-50 tie in the Senate, which Harris, as vice-president could break.

The Democratic senate candidates in the crucial Georgia race face the false belief, particuarly among conservative rural and small town voters that they are “communists” and “socialists.”

To make matters worse, many believe in crazy conspiracies, pedalled by the extreme right-wing media.

If the Republicans secure control, they could blackball Biden’s nominees, creating havoc in Washington and forcing him to rely on naming “acting” appointees, a measure which Trump used widely to avoid lengthy confirmation hearings, which weakens the ability of an administration to carry out its agenda. However, some Republicans, including Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have suggested they could support Biden’s choices if they are mainstream - which Sanders is not. Romney is likely to take a similar stand.

The 2020 election has clearly complicated rather than clarified the situation in Washington where Trump is determined to remain a power in the land and a threat to the incoming administration thanks to the refusal of spineless Republican lawmakers to corral him and return to traditional bipartisan politics of give and take.

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