By David M. Greenwald
It has taken two months after the election for us to finally have irrefutable evidence of election fraud. Ironically, it was at the hands of the President himself, as on Sunday a recorded phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, revealed the President attempting to pressure and perhaps threaten the public official with a “criminal offense.”
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” he said on the recording first obtained by the Washington Post.
“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the President said during the call. “You know, that’s a criminal—that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”
Biden Senior Advisor Bob Bauer said on Sunday, “We now have irrefutable proof of a president pressuring and threatening an official of his own party to get him to rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place.”
The revelation comes at the beginning of a very consequential week. On Tuesday, voters will cast their votes—and huge numbers already have—in the Georgia Senate contests that will determine control of the Senate.
While the efforts to overturn the election results will not succeed, the battle is now tearing the Republican party apart. At least 11 Republican Senators and as many as 140 House Republicans are expected to challenge and oppose certification of the presidential election results in what is normally a pro forma proceeding that will be heavily watched on Wednesday.
While some of the normally outspoken Republicans have opposed it, the opposition runs deeper and cuts across normally conservative lines.
Former Speaker and former Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, warned against lawmakers attempting to overturn the votes.
“Under our system, voters determine the president, and this self-governance cannot sustain itself if the whims of Congress replace the will of the people,” he warned.
He said efforts to reject the vote of the Electoral College and sow doubt about Biden’s victory would “strike at the foundation of our republic.
“It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans,” he said.
Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President and third ranking Republican in the House, is also opposing the challenge, urging Trump to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process.”
She warned in a memo on Sunday against attempts to set up a special commission to audit the election results.
“By objecting to electoral slates, members are unavoidably asserting that Congress has the authority to overturn elections and overrule state and federal courts,” the memo stated. “Such objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states’ explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the president and bestowing it instead on Congress.”
The Hill quoted an anonymous GOP Senator.
“The president thinks the idea of getting a lump in your throat about the orderly transition of power is quaint and he’s trampling on that,” the Senator said.
He quipped, “They’re making us look like Afghanistan.”
Even some strong Trump supporters like Lindsey Graham are speaking out, calling it a “political dodge” that had “zero chance of becoming reality.
“Proposing a commission at this late date—which has zero chance of becoming reality—is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy,” he said.
Conservative leader Tom Cotton of Arkansas, also a strong ally of the President, warned that the effort could “establish unwise precedents.
“The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states—not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College—not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts—not Congress,” he said in a statement released Sunday evening.
“Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the state,” he said.
Cotton warned that if Congress threw out the electoral votes of states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where President Trump has alleged without evidence widespread election fraud, it would “take away the power to choose the president from the people.”
Will there be political consequences to this? It was interesting listening to Carl Bernstein who believes that the recording of Trump attempting to sway and threaten the Georgia Secretary of State represents worse conduct than Nixon during Watergate. But, unlike the 1970s, Republicans for the most part have allowed Trump to get away with egregious conduct.
Looking at future fallout, the results on Tuesday might be a tell. There are few states that were competitive in Presidential Elections and more and more Senate races reflect national politics than local politics.
That has been one reason Republicans have been reluctant to speak out—many live in areas where their voters are convinced that the election was stolen from Trump. However, Senate control will come down to Georgia this time, and could come down to voters in swing states where there are Republican Senators but where Biden won.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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