Only presenting scenarios

Plotting the coup:

On 4 January, the conservative lawyer John Eastman was summoned to the Oval Office to meet Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. Within 48 hours, Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election would formally be certified by Congress, sealing Trump’s fate and removing him from the White House.

And Trump was hell-bent on stopping the certification, as if he had every right in the world to do that.

Eastman, who had a decades-long reputation as a prominent conservative law professor, had already prepared a two-page memo in which he had outlined an incendiary scenario under which Pence, presiding over the joint session of Congress that was to be convened on 6 January, effectively overrides the votes of millions of Americans in seven states that Biden had won, then “gavels President Trump as re-elected”.

Prominent law professor tells criminal in White House how to carry out a coup.

The Eastman memo, first revealed by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book Peril, goes on to predict “howls” of protest from Democrats. The theory was that Pence, acting as the “ultimate arbiter” of the process, would then send the matter to the House of Representatives which, following an arcane rule that says that where no candidate has reached the necessary majority each state will have one vote, also decides to turn the world upside down and hand the election to the losing candidate, Donald Trump.

Aka steal the election.

Eastman told the Guardian that he told Trump and the gang that that wasn’t his favorite option for stealing the election.

Instead, Eastman pointed to one of the scenarios in the longer six-page memo that he had prepared – “war-gaming” alternatives. His favorite was that the vice-president could adjourn the joint session of Congress on 6 January and send the electoral college votes back to states that Trump claimed he had lost unfairly so their legislatures could have another go at rooting out the fraud and illegality the president had been railing about since election day.

Hmm yes and just keep doing that for the next four years, with Trump still squatting in the presidency until it all gets figured out. Cunning plan.

Eastman insisted to the Guardian that he had only been presenting scenarios to the vice-president, not advice. He said that since news of his memos broke he had become the victim of a “false narrative put out there to make it look as though Pence had been asked to do something egregiously unconstitutional, so he was made to look like a white knight coming in to stop this authoritarian Trump”.

Ah yes, Eastman is clearly the victim here.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, a leading authority on US election issues, sees Eastman’s set of alternative scenarios as nothing less than a “fairly detailed roadmap for a constitutional coup d’état. That memo was a plan for a series of tricks to steal the presidency for Trump.”

Since the violent incidents of 6 January when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people, information has begun to amass about Trump’s extensive ploy to undo American democracy. Congressional investigations by the US House and Senate have added granular detail that has astonished even seasoned election-watchers in terms of the scale and complexity of the endeavour.

Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine who has written a report on 2020 election subversion, said that as time has passed the scope of Trump’s ambition has become clear. “There was much more behind the scenes than we knew about. We came much closer to a political and constitutional crisis than we realized,” he said.

Now they have three more years to plan the next one.

In the past few weeks, as congressional investigations have deepened, it has become clear that Trump’s efforts to overturn the election result were much more extensive and multi-layered than his Twitter rages. “This wasn’t just some crazy tweets,” Waldman said. “There was a concerted effort to push at every level to find ways to cling to power, even though he had lost.”

You know, this is the downside to making a crooked real estate tycoon president. Trump is marinated in all the wrong skills for the job. He’s a cheat and liar and fraud, and that’s what he knows. He’s a conceited noisy self-promoter, and that’s what he knows. He knows nothing about democracy or norms or the law or history or government. He doesn’t give the tiniest fuck that he blew up all the norms surrounding how to govern and how to conduct elections. He’s a corrupt money-grubbing thief and bully and publicity hound, and that’s all there is to him.

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