It was quite a weekend for our ex-“president”. At a rally in Texas he said lots of memorable things, at least if you are trying to sound insane and deranged.
Perhaps the most remarkable was that the Vice President can select the next president. That’s right: all that presidential campaigning is pretty much irrelevant because apparently actual votes no longer count. When Congress meets to certify the votes in the Electoral College, apparently the Vice President can decide which of these electoral votes to recognize because by law they must preside over the session.
This is great news if you are a wannabee dictator but not such great news if you take this seriously and look to January 2025. Then presumably still vice president Kamala Harris could declare that she will recognize Electoral College votes from only those states that voted for Joe Biden. What? This might not add up to 270 Electoral Votes? No matter, according to Trump the Veep makes the call.
This was one theory advanced by John Eastman, a former Justice Department official that mentioned the idea but disavowed it when pressed. His second was the idea that the Vice President could decide that certain states electoral college votes were in dispute, so they couldn’t be counted, so the result would be determined by the House, where each state gets one vote. With the majority of states being red (because there are a lot of rural states) guess who wins? That’s too nuanced for Donald Trump though.
When the United States was founded, the powers of the president worried the founding fathers. They looked for the most benign word possible to express their intent and picked president, because a president by definition merely presides over an institution. They wanted it clear that the real constitutional authority rested in Congress, which makes law. The job of the president was to ensure that Congress’s laws were faithfully executed. It’s right there in the president’s oath of office. The mere idea that the nation’s second presider, the Vice President, could decide who the main presider of the country would be would have been seen as preposterous. But Trump says with a straight face that this is what the law says.
Oh, and then there was that other stuff he said at the rally: that when he becomes president again he will pardon all those involved in January 6. So much for trying to faithfully execute the laws of the United States! All those laws about interfering with the process of government and seditious conspiracy don’t matter and are trumped by his “get out of jail free” pardon power, a power he used liberally to pardon his numerous cronies. It’s not hard to get away with it when a partisan Senate will refuse to convict any Republican president.
Trump went on to admit he pressured Mike Pence to overturn the election, which is an admission that he tried to instigate a coup. He wanted the military to seize voting machines in states where he didn’t like the vote. He was obviously caught on tape pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to find votes he didn’t have that would let him carry the state, which may lead to a criminal indictment in that state by the Fulton County district attorney. His henchman Rudy Giuliani coordinated sets of alternative electoral certifications from states he clearly lost, all in the hopes that Mike Pence might recognize them. He was looking to declare a national emergency to assert powers he didn’t have. And he might have gotten away with it if Vice President Pence had not showed he was a true patriot by simply doing what the law required of him: preside over watching as electoral votes were counted in Congress.
It will surprise no one when Trump announces he is running for president again in 2024. Whether he could “win” the vote though depends entirely on how willing the states are to corrupt the election process. Trump hasn’t won more adherents since he lost to Joe Biden by nine million real votes and 74 electoral votes. Smart Republicans realize they can improve their odds of winning dramatically by nominating someone like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis instead.
Right now they are just afraid to come out publicly for the idea. The Trump brand has lost its luster. Republicans want someone crazier than Trump, but craftier too. Trump is damaged goods and not loony enough for the base anymore.
I for one am hoping that Trump does run again. It’s the best way to reelect Joe Biden. A strong majority of the country simply loathes Donald Trump.