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Jim Marchant

Defenders of U.S. democracy, from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives, have been warning that if “Stop the Steal” MAGA Republicans and promoters of the Big Lie are able to take control of the administration of elections, they will simply throw out any election results they don’t like — which is what they brazenly attempted after the 2020 presidential election. And sure enough, MAGA Republicans in a rural county in New Mexico recently tried to do exactly that.

The county is Otero County, where MAGA Republicans on the country commission refused to certify recent election results — saying that they don’t trust the Dominion voting machines in their area. Legal experts Laurence Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, in an op-ed published by CNN’s website on January 20, warn that this is the type of power grab and attack on democracy to expect from MAGA Republicans in the months ahead.

“The commissioners had evidently fallen hook, line and sinker for the completely debunked 2020 election conspiracy theory spread by Trump and his acolyte, lawyer Sidney Powell, that Dominion Voting Systems' machines secretly switched votes from Trump to Joe Biden,” Tribe and Aftergut explain. “On Wednesday, (June 15), the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the commission to reverse course and certify the June 7 election results.”

Tribe and Aftergut add, “That's the good news. Courts — at least those below the U.S. Supreme Court — continue to be reliable institutions affirming truth and the rule of law. The bad news is that judges are unlikely to be able to sustain the heavy burden required to extinguish the disinformation wildfires that have now spread to the election certification process. Republican election sabotage, in which GOP officials refuse to certify the winners, has started.”

The legal experts point to Otero County as proof that “Republican election sabotage in which GOP officials refuse to certify the winners has started.”

Tribe and Aftergut point to Jim Marchant, who won the GOP primary for Nevada secretary of state on June 14, as an example of the type of Republican who would refuse to honor election results he didn’t like.

“Marchant says he would not have certified Joe Biden's 2020 Nevada victory,” Tribe and Aftergut observe. “And he has said he is open to sending to Congress a slate of electors in 2024 who would not vote for Nevada's popular vote winner.”

To make matters worse, they observe, some right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are open to hearing a case involving the Independent State Legislature Theory.

“The anti-democracy premise of ISL is that state legislatures can do whatever they want in federal elections, including ignoring the winner of the state's popular vote,” Tribe and Aftergut note. “The ISL theory is pockmarked with legal holes, as law professors Vikram David Amar and Akhil Amar have ably demonstrated in multiple articles. But if you think that will stop the Court majority from favoring legislatures' ability to destroy majority rule, think again. Over the last decade, the conservative majority has given Republican-controlled legislatures carte blanche to adopt measures suppressing the voting rights of Blacks and other large blocs of voters.”

Tribe and Aftergut conclude their op-ed by warning that Otero County won’t be MAGA Republicans’ last attempt to throw out democratic election results.

“We just saw in New Mexico how broadly the disinformation fueling the conspiracy has spread,” they write. “Only We The People can stop it.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.


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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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