Members Only | February 7, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Trump’s roundabout confession to the crime
Meanwhile, the GOP is rewriting that horrible day’s history.
Last week, ex-president Karen reminded us that it’s so hard to get good help nowadays. Donald Trump asserted January 30 that Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election and lamented that he didn’t do it. “Unfortunately, [Pence] didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump wrote in a statement.
The ensuing flood of negative attention was so intoxicating Trump upped the ante. Like an aggrieved customer leaving a bad Seamless review, he proclaimed that Congress should investigate Pence for failing to steal the election for him.
Trump’s sinister passivity is in keeping with a series of bombshell stories that reveal that the former president was intimately involved in a multifaceted plot to overturn the election, and that he was constantly scheming to get someone else to break the law for him.
The evidence that Trump and Eastman tried to act on the plan detailed in Eastman’s notorious memos was overwhelming even before Trump’s tacit admission.
As Commander-in-Chief, Trump could have given an illegal order to military forces to seize voting machines. Trump’s underlings even presented him with a draft executive order that would have authorized their seizure by the National Guard. Instead of signing the order, Trump got Rudy Giuliani to ask Ken Cuccinelli at Homeland Security to do something about it. Cuccinelli let the matter drop.
Last week’s statements about how the former vice president should have stolen the election are tantamount to a confession that Donald Trump executed John Eastman’s plan for Pence to steal the election during the certification ceremony of January 6, 2021.
The evidence that Trump and Eastman tried to act on the plan detailed in Eastman’s notorious memos was overwhelming even before Trump’s tacit admission. Trump and Eastman publicly and privately lobbied Pence to throw out electoral votes from Biden swing states, and when that didn’t work, they pressured him to somehow send the election “back to the states,” where they hoped the GOP-controlled legislatures of Biden swing states would execute multiple mini-coups from their respective capitals.
Once again, Trump was looking for others to take the risk for him. Pence had no legal power to send the election anywhere. Furthermore, all states have laws allocating their electoral votes based on the popular vote. Trump and his minions tried to sell hundreds of state legislators on a pseudo-legal theory that state legislatures can simply declare elections null and avoid and choose their electors themselves.
Trump had some success convincing his followers to break the law to keep him in power. The fraudulent GOP electors who signed fake electoral vote certificates were among the hapless followers who were willing to break the law for Trump. They now find themselves under investigation by state authorities, the Department of Justice and the J6 committee. The J6 insurgents also broke the law for Trump, storming the Capitol at his urging, but without Pence’s cooperation Eastman’s scheme came to naught. Team Trump sent fake electoral vote certificates to Pence. Eastman’s memo makes it clear that these fraudulent slates were an integral part of the plan to overturn the election.
The fact that Pence, Cuccineli and swing state legislators declined to break the law for Trump shouldn’t lull us into a false sense of security.
The J6 committee appears to be dithering.
Trump is already promising to protect those who break the law for him in the future. He recently promised to pardon the J6 insurgents if reelected. The Republican National Committee underscored Trump’s message by passing a resolution at its annual convention deeming the J6 insurgency to be “legitimate political discourse” and accusing the select committee of persecuting ordinary citizens. The committee also censured GOP reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the investigation.
Meanwhile the J6 committee appears to be dithering while the Republicans attempt to rewrite the history of that horrible day. The public hearings the committee promised have yet to materialize.
If Trump and his enablers don’t face real consequences for attempting to overturn a free and fair election in 2020, we can be confident that there will be people lining up to break the law for him next time.
Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.