Time was, the American people could reliably expect that the loser of the presidential election would accept defeat and, if said loser was the incumbent candidate, vacate the White House without a fight. That was a reasonable assumption because (1) most candidates who’ve made it to the general election have been relatively sane individuals, and (2) we don’t live in a dictatorship. In 2020, however, one of the people running for president is an unhinged maniac with authoritarian tendencies, and so on Wednesday, a member of the press corps actually had to ask him what his plans are vis-à-vis accepting the election results—and his answer was completely terrifying.
“Win, lose, or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” reporter Brian Karem asked Donald Trump, who didn’t even attempt to give the impression he cares whatsoever about preserving democracy. “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said. “You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.” Pressed again to “commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power,” Trump responded, “Get rid of the ballots and...we’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. You know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know better than anybody else.”
Trump has been railing against mail-in voting for months, baselessly claiming that tens of millions of extra ballots are being mailed out unsolicited and attempting to undermine any and all confidence in the election results (which, funnily enough, is exactly what his pals in Russia are trying to do, according to the director of the FBI). But this is the first time he’s stated unequivocally that he probably won’t accept the outcome unless he wins, and suggested there will be violence if anyone tries to remove him from power, which is obviously completely chilling and should worry anyone against the idea of the United States becoming an autocracy.
Wednesday’s news followed the publication of a harrowing report in The Atlantic by Barton Gellman that said the Trump campaign, according to sources in the Republican Party, is “discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states.” Then, Barton wrote, with “a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe harbor deadline expires.”
Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power—and to count all the ballots cast—was obviously met with outrage, including from some Republicans like Mitt Romney, who tweeted, “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.” Which might mean something if not for the fact that Romney committed earlier this week to confirming Trump’s replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, when Trump has publicly stated that he wants the Supreme Court to litigate the election in his favor. As political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen noted, this is like proclaiming to be against arson “while handing kerosene and lighters to the town arsonist.”
On Thursday, Bernie Sanders is scheduled to give a speech warning of the “nightmare scenario” in which Trump refuses to step down from power even if he loses. Which at one time might have seemed ridiculous and paranoid, but now? Not so much. “We are living in an unprecedented and dangerous moment—extremely dangerous moment—in American history,” Sanders told the New York Times. “And what this speech is going to be about is whether or not the United States of America will continue to be a democracy and a nation ruled by law and our Constitution.... The American people have got to be prepared for this. It is absolutely essential that they are.”
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Donald Trump comes face-to-face with people who think he sucks
Donald Trump rarely steps out of his bubble of sycophants and yes-men, likely because he knows that a large portion of the country—not to mention the world— despises him. Sometimes, though, things can’t be avoided. Last year, for instance, when he attended Game 5 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, the booing reached “almost 100 decibels.” And on Thursday, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honored outside the Supreme Court, the chants from the crowd were even more direct:
Later the White House tweeted a clip from the proceedings that ended before the booing began, presumably to avoid Trump blowing a gasket and tweeting something about how RBG supporters can go to hell.
A lot of former military leaders think Trump is a terrible president
And, like a decent number of people in this country, would really like to avoid a scenario in which he is elected to a second term:
Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, as well as former cabinet secretaries, service chiefs, and other officials, have signed an open letter in support of former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he has “the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.” The letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, is the latest in a series of calls for President Trump’s defeat in the November election.
“We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States,” it says. “We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it.”
The letter follows a statement signed last month by more than 60 former national security officials who called Trump “unfit to serve as President,” noting that while some of them disagreed with Biden on policy, they nevertheless believed it “imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.” It also follows a pair of reports quoting Trump calling dead soldiers “suckers” and “losers” and saying that the U.S. shouldn’t waste time looking for soldiers missing in action because they “performed poorly” and deserved what they got.
Trump sued by his niece, the one who wrote a book about him being the world’s shittiest uncle
Mary Trump has put the allegations from her book—essentially that the president and his siblings are monsters—into lawsuit form, alleging that they cheated her out of millions around the time Donald cut off health care for a sick baby who happened to be his nephew’s son. Per the Wall Street Journal:
The complaint in New York State Supreme Court names as defendants President Trump, his sister Maryanne, and the executor of their late brother Robert’s estate, and alleges the siblings perpetrated a scheme to defraud her of interests in the family business after her father, Fred Trump Jr., died in 1981. Because she was only 16 years old at the time, her aunt and uncles—as her trustees and partners—were supposed to protect her interests, the complaint says. Instead, it says, they conspired “to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited.” She seeks damages in the tens of millions of dollars.
By 1999, when Mr. Trump’s father, Fred Sr., died, the siblings had already stolen millions of dollars from Mary Trump, according to the filing. Still, it says, they forced her hand to sign away all of her interests. After cutting off Mary’s ill infant nephew’s health insurance and threatening to bankrupt her, the suit claims, the siblings gave her misleading financial documents to review. Relying on them, Mary Trump relinquished her stake, when “in reality, Mary’s interests were worth tens of millions of dollars more,” according to the complaint.... Even after Mary Trump gave up her interest in 2001, the suit says, the Trump siblings “continued to engage in fraud and misconduct that harmed the taxpayers, their tenants, and anyone who did business with them.” The filing also says the trio set up sham corporations, concealed transfers of assets as legitimate business transactions, and issued “loans” from companies in which Mary had an interest, but included no repayment terms. They were “just disguised cash distributions,” the lawsuit alleges.
Responding to the suit on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, “The only fraud committed there was Mary Trump recording one of her relatives,” referring to recordings Mary made in 2018 and 2019 of conversations with her aunt Maryanne. Revealed last month by the Washington Post, they contain Maryanne saying, among other things, that the president is a “brat,” that he had someone take the SATs for him, and that he has “no principles.” None of which was exactly a surprise to anyone living under his rule for the past nearly four years, but nice to have on the record from his own sibling nonetheless.
Pelosi says Trump is “trying to have the Constitution of the United States swallow Clorox” (Washington Post)
Republicans Offer Mild Pushback on Trump’s Threat to “Get Rid of the Ballots” (Intelligencer)
House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion stimulus plan with unemployment aid, direct payments (CNBC)
Citigroup says racism has cost U.S. economy $16 trillion (NYP)
Trump Faces Challenges Even in Red States, Poll Shows, as Women Favor Biden (New York Times)
Parents are sending coronavirus-infected kids to school, Wisconsin officials warn (Washington Post)
Pay Cuts Become Permanent for Many Americans During Pandemic (Bloomberg)
Moody’s: A Democratic Election Sweep Would Be Great for the Economy (Mother Jones)
“I think that you are one of this country’s great men, and it was an honor to spend an evening with you,” Trump wrote to Richard Nixon (NYP)
MTA workers had hidden “man cave” below Grand Central tracks, I.G. report finds (NYP)
— Melania Trump Sounds a Lot Like Her Husband in Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s New Book
— Jesmyn Ward Writes Through Grief Amid Protests and Pandemic
— How Trump’s Handling of White Supremacists Could Create a Homegrown Crisis
— Ashley Etienne May Be Biden’s Deadliest Weapon Against Trump
— What’s the Reality Behind Netflix Hit Selling Sunset?
— How to Abolish the Police, According to Josie Duffy Rice
— The Pandemic Is Creating an Endless Summer in the Hamptons
— From the Archive: The Perks and Perils of Being Donald Trump’s Daughter
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