Trump's Electoral Forgery/Fraud
The smoking guns are all around us
Photo by Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Happy Sunday! Before you get immersed in a day of playoff football, I’d like to urge you to think about the implications of this story:
In the weeks after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump's allies sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven states that he actually lost. The documents had no impact on the outcome of the election, but they are yet another example of how Team Trump tried to subvert the Electoral College -- a key line of inquiry for the January 6 committee.
The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight.
In other words, what we have here is attempted election fraud on a massive scale.
Some perspective: If an average voter lied on their registration forms or forged an absentee ballot, they would face criminal charges and a world of legal hurt.
But this case is far worse because the forged electoral certificates were coordinated, and part of a larger conspiracy to overturn the presidential election.
And the smoking guns are littered all around us.
Bill Kristol waves the red flag:
This morning’s Wapo reports that the Biden DOJ “does not appear to be directly investigating the person whose desperate bid to stay in office motivated the mayhem — former president Donald Trump — either for potentially inciting a riot or for what some observers see as a related pressure campaign to overturn the results of the election.”
But attorney George Conway asks the key question: “how there could 𝙣𝙤𝙩 have been a conspiracy or attempt by Trump or Eastman and others to "corruptly ... obstruct, influence, or impede" the electoral-vote count proceedings within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).
Bill Kristol @BillKristolWhy the 7 forged certifications matter: Eastman memo: "Pence...announces because of the ongoing disputes...there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those States...[So] there are 232 votes for Trump, 222 votes for Biden. Pence then gavels Trump re-elected.”
(1)alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
(2)otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
Nota bene: The forgeries were not a side-show — they were an integral part of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
And the plan was widely known.
On December 10, 2020, a group of prominent “movement” conservatives signed an open letter call for swing states to “appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump.” They wrote:
There is no doubt President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election. Joe Biden is not president-elect.
Accordingly, state legislatures in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Michigan should exercise their plenary power under the Constitution and appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump. Similarly, both the House and Senate should accept only these clean Electoral College slates and object to and reject any competing slates in favor of Vice President Biden from these states.
Here’s a partial list of the signatories:
A week later, former White House spox Kayleigh McEnany talked about an “alternate slate of electors” that Congress would vote on, when it met on January 6.
Around the same time, Trumpists in the Department of Justice were drafting letters to states alleging election fraud, and John Eastman was writing a detailed memo laying out a scheme for overturning the election on January 6, and
Here is a useful thread that put this all in context: (I’ve unrolled it.)
STEP 1: John Eastman concocts a “legal blueprint” whereby VP Pence elides the requirements of the Electoral Vote Act based on 7 states submitting dual slates of electors, allowing Pence to either count the alternate slate or not count those states at all https://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2021/images/09/20/eastman.memo.pdf…
STEP 2: GOP operatives/officials in those 7 states in fact create a false slate of electors and submit them as official, so they can be used in the scenario above
STEP 3: DOJ, meanwhile, submits letters to each state, indicating (falsely) that they have reason to believe that there has been election fraud. This creates perception that results are actually in question, bolstering VP’s ability to discount their votes.
[She later tweeted: “Jeffrey Clark’s letter references the alternate slate of electors “which have already been submitted”… his DOJ scheme was part and parcel of the same Eastman/forged slate scheme (also creating appearance the the “alternate slate” is OK as a matter of law)”]
STEP 4: The Big Lie is repeated in rallies and social media, saturating information space to rile up base and give momentum to “Stop the Steal” movement
STEP 5: Plan for all of these angry and agitated individuals to come to D.C. on January 6, the day that Eastman’s plan will be put into effect. The protesters are sent to march on the Capitol, to further put pressure on VP Pence and lawmakers, as stated in Oath Keeper indictment.
STEP 6: Since mob attack is intended to keep up pressure on Pence/lawmakers, they must be able to remain in Capitol as long as possible.
So: 6a) Purge top DOD and replace with loyalists; and 6b) delay LE/National Guard response as long as possible.
STEP 7: ??? I’m not sure what was supposed to happen at this point. Presumably, Pence would somehow declare Trump the winner, or if not, the Capitol would remain occupied until they found a way to make him do it. Seems like they planned to continue the siege.
The point is that there are a lot of moving parts and evidence surfacing in a lot of different areas but they are all connected to one overarching goal: Keep Trump in power by subverting the counting of the electoral votes and preventing the transfer of power to Biden /END
Exit take: Let’s go back to George Conway’s question: How does this not constitute a criminal offense? And why on earth would the DOJ not launch an investigation into the fake/forged election certificates?
Bonus: Steve Bannon still has a plan involving electors.
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I'm a Bulwark Podcast listener (and Bulwark+ subscriber), and I made a mental note when you mentioned last week that you had sat down with Rich Lowry for a discussion on another podcast. I fully expected that to be a good discussion, so I made a mental note and hoped the discussion would show up on one of the podcasts I listen to regularly. It seems I lucked out: I just finished listening to your appearance on The Argument from The New York Times, and the discussion was even better than I anticipated.
I'm a fairly progressive person, but I have made an effort over the years to maintain a balanced podcast diet that includes some conservative voices. At some point, those podcasts included regular appearances from Rich Lowry, and his opinions seemed tolerable. He seemed like a reasonable person. After the 2016 election, things changed: it became increasingly difficult to tolerate any more from him. Thankfully, The Bulwark and its associated podcasts have provided an excellent replacement.
In any case, listening to you offering a counterpoint to Rich Lowry on The Argument was very refreshing. Your counter-arguments felt like an excellent stand-in for the voice in my head every time I've heard him on a podcast in the Trump era.
Thanks for everything you do to expose me to a good faith conservative point of view, and for ensuring there are still some non-crazy conservative voices to be heard. I appreciate it, and I even agree with much of what you have to say.
Your choices of “punditry,” frankly, suck. Why do any of these people (Peggy Noonan? Axios? Seriously?) qualify as reasonable or fair people to reference? Why not just use your buddy Rich Lowry as your voice of truth?
David Ignatius’ whine that Biden was elected with a mandate to bridge a divided country…and is failing in that mission” is profoundly dishonest. Biden bent over backwards—and then some—for over a year, only to be met with escalating psychosis, derangement, lies, mendacity, and threats of violence from the escalatingly fascist Republicans. Now, finally, he calls them out in terms that, if anything, understate their rottenness and these pusillanimous, sanctimonious “pundits” are all aghast at how mean and terrible and…unpresidential Joe Biden is. Are you kidding me?! Comparing Biden to Trump when Biden gave two firm, strong speeches and Trump unleashed more toxicity and mendacity every hour of his existence as President and even afterwards.
Some of the writers at the Bulwark bemoan the double standards Dems and Repubs are held to in the media and in society, decrying the “heads, Repubs win; tails, Dems lose” structure of it all. And here you are, amplifying it from some awful pundits, while also perpetuating it yourself.
You’re concerned about the destruction of our country? You’re concerned that the onslaught of Republican lies, idiocy, sedition, and thuggery will soon lead to an ethnonationalist kleptocratic mafia state? Well, look in the mirror at what you’re doing with this piece and ask yourself whether this is helping or hurting. While you’re at it, maybe ask if it’s even fair or honest.
Your suggestion of some Sister Souljah moments from President Biden is reasonable at this stage. However, I have to disagree with your characterization of the school closure debate.
The issues you raise with the suspension of in person learning are far from imaginary. It has a terrible effect on the children, and many people in poverty rely on schools for everything from childcare to subsidized meals. The problem is that not enough attention is paid to the plight of teachers, and your analysis has a major blind spot in that regard.
To many young professionals like myself (late twenties to mid thirties), the American teacher has become a symbol for the many ways our generation has been failed. Underpaid and overworked, they are disrespected by everyone from sneering right wing television hosts to the so-called leftists who can't fathom why people making less than an administrative assistant aren't willing to endanger themselves and their immediate family.
Teaching used to be a respectable profession for a young person looking to start their career. Unfortunately, like many industries such as nursing and the sciences, employers now routinely exploit passion for the work to extract value in the form of unpaid overtime and the purchase of classroom supplies using personal funds.
In other words, a "Sister Souljah" moment from Biden on this front would be a disaster. Teachers are used to being guilted and called selfish for setting even the mildest boundaries in their work/life balance, and an insult from the president would do little to break that routine. At best, the statement would draw an unenthusiastic "OK Boomer" from the Unions, and sully Biden's image as a president above picking fights with ordinary people, a key contrast from Trump that helped him win in 2020.
The solution, to counter with an equally overused cliche, would be a carrot and stick approach. The stick is warranted, we need to find a way to get kids back in school. But the stick must be accompanied by a carrot, which could involve any number of reforms and investigations:
An investigation into the epidemic of unpaid overtime in teaching, as well as dollars spent on classroom supplies by teachers out of pocket.
-Increased followup on culture war inspired death threats. I know people are cautious after Youngkin's victory in Virginia, but McAuliffe couldn't have handled that issue worse if he had tried to. "I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." Good God man. Opposing death threats has never been a losing issue.
-Real Covid support. If you are going to reopen schools, you can't just throw the teachers to the wolves. This means easily accessible Covid tests, contact tracing, and strict enforcement of covid safety measures. It is important to teachers that the administration does not view them as a cross between a babysitter and a Starfleet redshirt.
The school closure debate is delicate, pitting two major parts of Biden's coalition directly opposite from one another. The solution here will require diplomacy from Biden, not the taking of a side. That is exactly the sort of thing people elected him to do.
I enjoyed (even with some occasionally vehement disagreement) your conversation with Mr. Nichols on the proposed "grand coalition" mode of thinking he proposed in his most recent Peacefield newsletter. I had a couple observations that I hope are helpful (or at least amusing):
Firstly, in response to Mr. Nichols' dilemma over what to name this coalition, I would submit the classic 20th century term for a coalition of what we might call the antifascist elements of society: The Popular Front. Emphasizing as it does the continuation of constitutional self-government by the public, I hope you find the term compelling.
Secondly, and more seriously, I think your complaints against my particular faction within the Democratic Party (to disclose my priors, I'm a socialist) elide a significant systemic problem: there is no authority to tell Democrats what they stand for. The fact that decisions from city councilors in urban enclaves dictate national debate is a symptom of the institutional rot of the party. However, I would propose this is a problem our newly arrived Republican exiles have the tools to fix.
I think Mr. Nichols' description of what conservatives offer to the Popular Front needs one amendment. Republicans did not win elections through savvy messaging, but through the construction of durable institutions that coordinate the national Republican platform and carry their messages to potential voters. ALEC, CPAC, and Fox News all helped Republicans not just win majorities, but mobilize legislators to wield those majorities to accomplish Republican partisan objectives. No number of breathless fundraising emails could match that. The knowledge of how to construct those institutions and plug them into political constituencies is the real gift to the coalition.
I propose that this coalition needs a standing national convention, regularly and and proportionally elected from among the party's constituent factions, which should choose candidates for elections, determine the party's priorities, and pre-draft legislative text to implement those priorities. Currently Democrats accomplish this by sniping at each other through the press and on Twitter. By building representative party institutions, I think we can build a structure to turn this bickering into something constructive.
Accomplishing this would require the party's centrist wing to release its death grip on the party's formal institutions, but, for once, I think this is a project the center-right and the far-left can get behind. We will never agree on vast areas of policy, a venue to sort out (or at least prioritize) our differences would make a world of difference in determining what Democrats run on in deep-red districts.
Wishing you the best,