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Remembering the last days of a disgraced president

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 In 2019 I wrote on this site:

All indications are that the GOP and the American people are prepared to collude in the transformation to an authoritarian regime

Well, they tried. And they're still trying. It almost worked in 2020. We were not saved by "our institutions" - we were only saved by a few individuals here and there and some good luck. There were a few election officials, many republican, that refused to go along with the coup. Some staffer in Congress grabbed the boxes containing the electoral college votes on January 6 at the last minute. A few Capitol police held ground long enough for members of Congress to find shelter and avoid being killed or kidnapped.

By Tyler Merbler from USA - DSC09265-2, CC BY 2.0,

Had any one of those accidents not happened, we could be living in a much different world right now.

With everything we're learning from the January 6th committee, along of course with everything we already knew, what we saw with our own eyes, we know there was a coup attempt. If they succeeded, they would have kept the former president in place, ignoring the will of the people, ignoring the vote, ignoring the Constitution, ignoring that the election wasn't even close, as Mitch McConnell himself stated on January 6. Now we know this coup plot was put to paper. They had a blueprint to use to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and ignore the devastating loss that Trump suffered and keep him in office anyway.

How quickly we forget.

After losing the election in 2020, the then-president went entirely AWOL. He was never particularly presidential or particularly attentive to his presidential duties, but after his 2020 election defeat, he was totally missing, focused only on the "big lie" and wanting nothing to do with affairs of state. This is who he is. This is what we would get if he runs and wins back the presidency. We will not get the "muted" version we had for four years. We're going to get the full off-the-rails version we saw for the two months up to when he boarded Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021, the version of Trump that (finally) got him kicked off Twitter and Facebook.

Here's some of the crazy stuff that happened after he lost the election:

  • After vote counts showed a Biden victory, Trump engaged in what has been called a "post-election purge", firing or forcing out at least a dozen officials and replacing them with loyalists.
  • He and his associates filed a number of lawsuits contesting election processes, vote-counting, and the vote-certification process in multiple states. Courts dismissed more than 50 lawsuits of alleged electoral fraud and irregularities presented by Trump and allies. Trump's own U.S. election security officials have said the election was “the most secure in American history”.
  • He pressured Michigan officials not to certify the legal and valid election results.
  • He famously pressured  Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger to disqualify ballots and "find" him enough votes to win.
  • The Trump campaign requested a recount in Wisconsin counties known to be Democratic strongholds. The recounts ended up increasing Biden's lead by 87 votes.
  • Trump placed a call to Georgia governor Brian Kemp in which he urged the governor to call a special session of the state legislature to override the election results and appoint electors who would support Trump.
  • After legal efforts by Trump and his proxies had failed in numerous state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, some right-wing activists and Trump allies – including Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and L. Lin Wood – suggested that Trump could suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and "rerun" the election.
  • Trump enlisted Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other aides to pressure deputy attorney Jeffrey Rosen, who would replace Barr on December 23, and other Justice Department officials to challenge the election results. Jeffrey Clark, acting assistant attorney general for the civil division, approached Rosen with a draft letter addressed to officials in the state of Georgia and requested he sign it. 
  • Michael Flynn called senior Trump intelligence official Ezra Cohen and told him to take extreme actions, including seizing ballots, to prevent the election results from favoring the winner, Joe Biden.
  • On New Year's Eve, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent a memo drafted by Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to a top Pence aide containing a detailed plan to overturn the election results.
  • On New Year's Day, White House director of personnel John McEntee sent a series of bullet points via text message to Pence's chief of staff to incorrectly assert that Thomas Jefferson "Used His Position as VP to Win" the 1801 election.
  • Justice Department officials pressured Atlanta's top federal prosecutor, B. J. Pak, to say there had been widespread voter fraud in Georgia, warning him that he would be fired if he did not. The White House forced Pak to resign on January 4, 2021.
Then of course was the attack on the Capitol on January 6. 

This is what we saw, this is what we got, in the last days of the Trump presidency. This will be just the beginning if he is allowed to enter the White House again. He will start his presidency at this red-alert level of lunacy, not the subdued version of Trump we had before. But we seem to have totally forgotten what this was like, what went on for that two and half months, how utterly insane it was, how the country was rudderless, representing a national security threat, his own generals prepared for a showdown.

Nothing has changed.

When the January 6th coup attempt ultimately (and barely) failed, and Joe Biden was finally inaugurated on January 20, 2021, many of us thought this nightmare was finally over. But it is very much ongoing. And nothing has changed to stop it from succeeding next time. None of the leaders of the conspiracy have suffered any real consequences. Findings released January 3, 2022 from a Reuters/Ipsos Poll show Trump’s favorability rating among Republicans stands at 82%. A Washington Post survey reports that one in three Americans say violence against government is justified. Other polls have found that more than half of Republicans believe the big lie that the presidential election was "stolen".

We were not saved by the "rule of law." Pundits keep telling us, even in the long list of dirty deeds listed above, there were no laws broken, or not enough evidence to bring a case anyway. If this holds true, we are no longer a country ruled by laws. Meanwhile, the republicans have been systematically removing everyone that pushed back against the coup and replacing them with Trump loyalists who will be more open to overturning future elections.

Yet we just keep pretending it's politics as usual, just another election cycle. See: A message from the future.

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