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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Trump is still privately questioning whether to keep Mike Pence as his running mate, Yahoo News reported on Thursday.

“Behind the scenes, tensions have been mounting among Trump, Pence and their top advisers ever since the GOP’s resounding losses in the 2018 midterms,” the outlet reported.

After the party lost control of the House and Democrats secured a historic popular vote victory over the GOP, Trump “asked aides about replacing Pence.”

According to Yahoo, Trump hasn’t let go of his concerns and during his August vacation at his New Jersey golf resort, Trump advisers say he continued to ask about how removing Pence from the ticket would be received.

At the same time, Pence’s team is reportedly concerned about a push from Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to replace him with a woman on the ticket. Trump has always been weak with woman voters — he lost to Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points among — and they are a major reason he has never had a positive approval rating.

Just a few weeks ago, Pence was publicly humiliated when former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley started a rumor about her possibly replacing Pence. Pence then had to reassure supporters by publicly addressing Haley’s comments.

“There are certain pockets out there that want to solve their problems by replacing the running mate,” a Pence adviser told Yahoo.

While Pence is in the unenviable position of reassuring the world his job is secure, he has also been scurrying around in public to push Trump’s pet projects.

“He’s on a tightrope,” an RNC member who helped to connect Pence with Trump back in 2016 told Yahoo. Brought on to shore up weak support for Trump with the religious right, Pence has had to do more to demonstrate loyalty.

A Pence “confidant” cited his appearance at a border detention camp photo op in July as an example of the sway Trump now has over Pence. At that event, Pence used migrants posed in front of cameras to claim that reports of substandard conditions in migrant detention facilities are overblown.

Additionally, Pence this week stayed at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, nearly 200 miles away from the meetings he had scheduled in Dublin. Forced to explain the arrangements, which cost taxpayers extra and enriched Trump, the White House continually changed its story, eventually blaming the episode on Pence’s desire to be near his ancestral home.

Instead of operating like a unified team, Trump and Pence are sounding more like warring political factions.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]