'Full-blown crisis': Disturbing theory as Trump eyes last chance to flip election

Yahoo News Staff
·6-min read

The US presidential election was on November 3 with a couple of very eventful days of vote counting required for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to emerge as winners.

But there’s still a bit of election business to wrap up between now and January 20, when Biden and Harris will be inaugurated as the next president and vice president of the United States.

And Trump hopes to cause one last moment of chaos and destabilisation.

Trump has one last shot to throw a spanner into to cogs of American democracy.
Trump has one last shot to throw a spanner into to cogs of American democracy. Source: Getty

On January 6, Congress will meet in a joint session to formally count the Electoral College votes submitted by the states. The electoral votes are carried into the chamber in ornate boxes, members of Congress look them over and then the incumbent vice president, acting as Senate president, declares the winners.

In this case, it will be Vice President Mike Pence declaring victory for his opponents. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but other vice presidents have in the past, including Richard Nixon in 1961 and Al Gore in 2001 when he narrowly lost to George W. Bush.

The states have already counted the votes cast by their electors. Biden won with a total of 306 electoral votes, compared with President Trump’s 232 (270 Electoral College votes are needed to win). Biden also won the popular vote by over 7 million votes.

Trump, however, has been unable to publicly grapple with that reality. He has instead chosen to rage against the result, calling on Republicans to back his efforts to subvert the election proceedings.

And some have stated their willingness not to go along with the proceedings next week.

Sinister theory behind Trump’s defiance

Some of Trump’s most hardcore and fringe supporters have been advocating online for the president to controversially invoke the country’s Insurrection Act, allowing him to deploy the military domestically.

Bill Kristol, a conservative US political analyst and former chief of staff to former US vice president Dan Quayle, posed a theory that Trump could seek to sow chaos on January 6, to give him the opportunity to take such a heavy handed approach.

“As one former national security official put it to me, when you play out this scenario it's hard to see how it works – but even trying to invoke the Insurrection Act would create a full-blown constitutional and governmental crisis,” he tweeted.

“The only reasons to worry about this are that Trump apparently has mention this to allies in recent days, and, I'm told, the senior civilians at DOD (Department of Defence) have been asking around – just in case! – about how it would work.

“And of course Trump is encouraging his supporters to come to [Washington] DC on January 6; it's not at all unlikely there'll be turmoil, disturbances, perhaps violence, which would obviously be Trump's excuse for trying to invoke the Act.

“There have been preparations for such an eventuality among senior uniformed officials and others at the Pentagon who are on the side of constitutional government, and the reaction would be serious and even dramatic. And I think Trump knows that.”

Small group of Trump backers intent on last gasp

Trump’s most ardent supporters are clinging to what is almost certainly a fantasy of overturning the results of the election in Congress. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 requires the vice president to preside over the validation of Electoral College votes in a largely ceremonial capacity and to affirm the winner of the presidential election.

Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican and Trump loyalist, as well as a group of Arizona Republicans filed a lawsuit in US District Court earlier this week against Pence, arguing that the 1887 law is unconstitutional and that he should be legally authorised to pick pro-Trump electors on January 6.

“Vice-President Pence ... under the Twelfth Amendment, is subject solely to the requirements of the Twelfth Amendment and may exercise the exclusive authority and sole discretion in determining which electoral votes to count for a given State,” the lawsuit contends.

Trump’s GOP allies could also take another avenue. If at least one House member and one senator object to the results, the objection is put to a vote after two hours of debate.

A handful of Republicans in the House — including Georgia Republican Jody Hice, who was reelected — have said they will object to the electoral results in Georgia, one of the states in which Trump is dubiously claiming voter irregularities.

On the Senate side, it’s less certain. Incoming Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has suggested but not confirmed that he may also lodge an objection.

The effort to throw the election to Trump would need to pass by a majority in both chambers. Even if the vote falls on party lines, it will be defeated by the Democratic majority in the House. Also, several Senate Republicans oppose it, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who has provoked Trump’s wrath after recognising the election result).

A woman sells Donald Trump hats and shirts at an election protest for Trump supporters on December 20. Source: Getty
A woman sells Donald Trump hats and shirts at an election protest for Trump supporters on December 20. Source: Getty

So it’s hard to imagine a situation in which an objection to a single state’s votes goes anywhere — let alone the multiple states that would be needed to change the election results.

But hold tight. Even though our calendars have ticked over to the new year — the Trump-led 2020 drama isn’t quite over until the vice president has spoken next week.

Like much of 2020, it could be a little surreal.

Yahoo News US

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