Sedition from within.

The refusal of Donald Trump and his supporters in the media and Republican Party to acknowledge his defeat in the presidential election has taken an ominous turn. What at first could be discounted as the childish petulance of a sore loser is now morphing into the makings of a constitutional coup. The move is two sided, involving the de-legitimation of the electoral process as a foundational institution of the political system; and the hollowing out and/or partisan stacking of key agencies that otherwise would be the most resistant to that type of subversion. This is, in effect, sedition from within.

In the last days Trump has fired the Secretary of Defense and forced the resignations of key aides, including the DoD Chief of Staff and head of special operations and low intensity conflict. He has replaced them with craven loyalists, including Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, a former Army special forces soldier and recently Director of Counter-Terrorism at the NSC. Miller has an intense hatred for Iran and supports Trump’s efforts to immediately withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in order to re-deploy them on Iran’s Western flank, which in turn will be part of the “maximum pressure” campaign Trump wants to wage on the Persian State. US military commanders object to both the withdrawal and to the lop-sided re-deployment, to say nothing of being drawn into yet another (senseless) war of opportunity.

Trump is rumored to be getting ready to fire the CIA and FBI directors. He has purged professional careerists in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and replaced them with hyper partisans. He has politicised and promoted partisans and loyalists in the Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The pace of this “purge and replace” process has quickened since Election Day. If he continues to do so, by Inauguration Day he will have cleared a path in the repressive apparatus of so-called “constitutionalists” in favor of loyalists.

The Miller appointment is also ominous because Acting Directors do not need Senate confirmation and one of the main missions of US Army special forces is to train indigenous militias in guerrilla warfare. Already there is speculation that his experience can be used to forge links between DoD, Republican-led state governments and various rightwing militia groups in the event that Trump’s refusal to abdicate turns into physical confrontations between his supporters and Biden supporters and/or local government security agencies. This puts pressure on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and service branch leadership as to what they will do in the event that DoD lends its institutional weight and resources to the pro-Trump insurgents, egged on from within the Oval Office.

The Trump administration has already held a trial run of sorts when it comes to politicised domestic repression. A few months ago armed federal “agents” wearing uniforms without identification were sent into Portland to counter BLM protests. They were not invited by the mayor or the Oregon governor. They stayed for several weeks, making arrests, using batons and tear gas against peaceful demonstrators, seizing people and removing them in unmarked vans to locations outside the city centre. They worked alongside the Portland Police, who in turn cast a blind eye on armed right-wing militants showing up to counter-demonstrate against the BLM crowds. It turns out that these unidentified federal agents were recruited from within the Border Patrol, ICE, Customs and other agencies overseen by DHS. They were removed from Portland when their activities were exposed in the media and were subsequently prohibited by several local jurisdictions–Chicago and New York among them–from deploying there in spite of Trump’s threats to “send them in.”

Then, of course, there was the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray by National Guard and other federal security units against peaceful demonstrators in and around Lafayette Square in Washington DC. When DC based National Guard troops–many of them African Americans–baulked at repressing their fellow Washingtonians, Trump had supportive Republican governors supply National Guards from their respective states (National Guard units are commanded by state governors or, in the case of federal territory like the District of Columbia, by the president himself). He went so far as to stage a photo opportunity outside St. Johns Episcopal church adjacent to the square in which the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and then-defence Secretary Mark Esper were paraded out and used as props (both Milley and Esper later claimed that they were unaware of what was going on when they were invited to join the president for a walk into the Square).

Trump has refused to allow Biden to receive the daily intelligence briefs that incoming presidents are normally provided. He has made no plans or engaged in the usual niceties of transitions between administrations. Instead, he has dug his heels in on the fraudulent election claims and in this he has been supported by (with a few exceptions) the Republican Party at all levels, rightwing media, and foreign despots like Jair Bolsonaro. Whether out of prudence or preference, the autocrats running China and Russia have remained silent on the issue.

If Trump is able to corrode the institutional apparatus by hollowing it out and stacking it with cronies, then one of the last defences against a full authoritarian take-over of the executive will have to be the courts. But Trump has the Bill Barr-led Justice department running cover for him, not only in cases involving his administration, his campaign or disputes with Congress, but even attempts to represent him in personal matters such as defence against lawsuits stemming from rape allegations dating back to his days as a private citizen. He has named over 200 judges to federal courts and has successfully placed three Supreme Court judges on the highest bench in the land. He is banking on them coming to his side when push comes to shove regarding the presidency. It remains to be seen if they will do so but the fact that it may even come to that is alarming of itself.

Opinion polls show that Republican voters are much less supportive of democracy as a construct and much more supportive of governments that cater to their policy preferences. That is to say, when it comes to democracy, for US conservatives it is all about deliverables. This is a variant of the old “trains run on time” argument made about Mussolini–that efficiency is more important than representativeness, equality or transparency when it comes to governance. It is this instrumental view of democracy–that it only works or is preferable if it works in one’s (partisan) favour–that under-rides popular support for Trump’s authoritarian moves.

The anti-democratic trend is visible world wide in both new and mature democracies, but in the US it has a distinctly partisan aspect to it. Normally anarchists, communists and assorted other Leftists would be the most opposed to what Lenin called capitalism’s “best possible shell.” But in the US it is the right-wing view that this political shell–bourgeois democracy–covers the work and policies of nefarious liberal elites. QAnon elevated the nefarious nature of elite behaviour into the realm of pedophilia and sex-trafficking in Deep State-operated circles, so the crazy is strong and runs deep on that side of the US ideological ladder.

That is what makes Trump’s moves more alarming than they should be under “normal” circumstances. There are a lot of people who welcome his sedition and in fact want to be part of it. For many it is a defence of the historical status quo that motivates them, heterosexist, patriarchical, racist, xenophobic and classist as that may be. For others it is just an opportunity for taking advantage. Whatever the motivation, this coalition of deplorables are ready, able and willing to join the Trump-led subversion of American political institutions. And they are here to stay whether he remains in office or not.

The danger of a US constitutional coup is compounded by the fact that many people in and outside the federal bureaucracy do not believe that “it can happen here.” For every MAGA maniac frothing about the Deep State, there are many reasonable others who believe that the US institutional foundation is too solid to be usurped or overthrown. They simply cannot grasp the notion that a coup can occur in the US, much less one that is carried out quietly, incrementally and from within the State apparatus. And yet for the entirety of his presidency, Trump has been preparing the ground for exactly that, using the justifications of “draining the swamp” and fighting the Deep State as the cover for his seditious intent.

That brings up the question about Republicans. Although it is widely understood that they at first thought that they could control Trump and bend him in their preferred image, by now they must realise that was a pipe dream. So the question of the moment is why do major components of the Republican Party and rightwing ecosystem continue to cling to him after the election and tie themselves to his attempts to overturn the results? Is it their desire to ride his political coattails? Or what he could do to them down the road? Is it fear of what his MAGA base can do to them now and down the road? Or are they sincere in thinking that the election was stolen (only where he lost) and that usurping the constitution and institutional foundations is justified by that circumstance even if it destroys the Republic?

It may pay for the GOP to remember that Trump was a Democrat before he switched to being a Republican ten years ago. It may pay for them to recall that he said that he switched because Republican voters were dumb and it was easier to dupe them. It may pay for them to remember that before he embraced evangelical Xtians he led a degenerate atheist lifestyle that has only been slightly tempered by his move into public office. It may pay for them to remember how he turns on those in their ranks who question his actions, and on Fox News when it stops blindly cheerleading for him. Because what that should tell them is that their loyalty to him is not reciprocal, and that his actions are based in personal self-interest, not principle or partisan conviction. That is the ultimate motivation for his sedition from within.

It may seem far-fetched, but of this the US constitutional coup could be made.

37 thoughts on “Sedition from within.

  1. Edward:

    There is always some element of fraud in certain localities (say, Chicago during the Machine era or in the Deep South when votes in predominantly black districts were not counted), but over the years the scrutiny mechanisms have gotten better, both in how votes are tabulated and in the bipartisan nature of election observers in all states. The claims about fraud in the 2020 election are nothing more than Trump and the GOP trying to delegitimate the results in districts where they lost. Trump does this as a matter of course. In 2016 he claimed that the vote would be fraudulent until he won. In 2018 he claimed that it was fraudulent when the Dems picked up House seats, refusing to blame himself and his party’s behaviour for the losses. This year he and the GOP whine about fraud in districts where they lost or where races are tight, but not in places where they won (including in supposedly “safe”Democratic seats).

    Given that US ballots have all candidates and offices on one sheet, it is a bit of a stretch to say that down ballot votes are valid while the president/VP vote is not (or vice versa). Since absentee ballots have multiple security layers and in-person ballots are given out, monitored and collected by hand under and by bipartisan observers, it is specious to claim that there is wide-spread fraud.

    The US election system is clearly fraught. The Electoral College is an anachronism and gerry-pandering has grossly distorted representation towards the white conservative demographic. But when it comes to fraud, the US is far from the likes of Belarus–or even Singapore (where electoral bias is a systemic feature not a matter of vote counting inconsistencies).

  2. And the western world is going to stand by and let it happen?

    Tyrannical bullies like Trump are basically cowards. There must be a way to scare the pants off him. He has committed enough criminal and fraudulent acts over the years to ultimately send him to a prison cell. That would turn him into a trembling mess for starters.

    Its time the Democrats started reciprocating in kind because that is the only language Trump and his Republican supporters understand.

  3. “Constitutionalists”, now there’s a word a haven’t heard since my last and Final Middle East Tour before I was casvac home on the night of the US Election when old mate got in.

    Had a couple of these “Constitutionalists” in the USAF SEC FLT I was in, I’ve never heard such BS in my life when I asked them what is a “Constitutionalists” one night on picket. These lunatics (sorry don’t know what else to call them) Rabbit on about how the Dem’s are a part of the deep and will do anything to force a Socialist One world agenda like Obama Care which is against the US Constitution etc etc.

    I asked the question what would happen if a Republican President tries to override the US Constitution? It will never happen as they are the founders of the US Constitution and they believe in the smallGovernment,
    anti One World agenda etc. But Trump is the sort of person who try and do this as he hates losing, which even weirder that he is wanting to be the next POTUS? No he won’t it’s Hilary & Obama who is anti US Constitution we will defend the Constitution and follow orders of Trump as he will MAGA.

    Love to know where these are now, for other chat at the current situation but I probably lose another 3hrs of my life again that I will never get back. All I can say thank god for the Westminster System that Australian and NZ have.

  4. Anne,

    The US will be the least of our worries if the US implodes into another civil war, as it would give China a free hand in the Asia- Pacific Region. But on the flip side, I do feel like another war of 1812. So our family can retake our lost property/ lands from not only the war of 1812, but also the land around New York & the Boston area during the War of independence and burn the bloody White House down again.

  5. Pablo: On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a normal transition of power & 10 being Fort Sumter v2, where would you put things as they stand between now & 21 January 2021?

  6. “And the western world is going to stand by and let it happen?”

    Surely we all know by now that the western world intervening ina country to try to ensure democracy never works. I have to imagine this is as much true for the USA as it is for Libya and Iraq

  7. If the worst happens because of Trump’s actions thus far (hoping that Biden is installed as POTUS he has been elected to be in January) can he sack all of the Trump appointees? That is assuming there is not a complete coup in the meantime, of course.

    Would (or could) the military refuse to comply with the orders of the new Trump appointees if it looked as if it was heading down that path?

    I see that there is a right-wing rally happening in DC this weekend, organised by one Alexander Ali and it will apparently include all of the most loathsome of right wing Trump supporters, in spite of the ban on large gatherings. After the joy of Biden’s win it all feels very precarious right now. I hope the American people as a whole can find a way to make America safe again.

  8. @Di: Myers v United States firmly established that, while the President requires confirmation hearings to appoint people to certain executive offices, they have unlimited right to dismiss office holders without the consent of the Senate.

    So yes, Biden can sack every officer who Trump appointed, if he is the President and he wants to.

    As for the military, legally they still have to follow Trumps orders as he is still the President until January 20th. There is a general rule that members of the military are not supposed to follow illegal orders, but this has not always worked – many soldiers followed orders to torture prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. A military coup usually involves mass arrests of political opponents and the US military has never been used this way before, so it is hard to say how they would react. Such an order is not definitely absolutely illegal, it would require invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act. The current situation is clearly against the spirit of the Act, but Trump could claim that the purported voter fraud is a situation that “deprives people of their Constitutional rights”. The last time it was invoked this way was during the Civil Rights crisis of the 1960s when federal troops were sent to the South to enforce desegregation.

    Trump is very popular among the rank-and-file, though – it is worth noting that 50% of US army personnel come from the South.

  9. @Görkem: There’s people promoted by his appointees who can’t be dismissed, and that leaves a mark even if Biden was a clean sweep type and didn’t aspire to making compromises for peace. He’s not and does by all accounts.

    As for getting the military to back him up – I guess they might be able to identify a bunch of officers and troops who would do so, but it’d be a minority according to those I’ve spoken to online (his popularity among the ranks may be exaggerated). If the larger part of the military is against the coup rather than just standing by it’d go very badly for the minority, which will hopefully be enough to discourage the coup attempt.

  10. Thanks for the answers to my questions, Gorkem. I had thought that the most likely situation would be that the new POTUS would be able to start with a clean slate, but it will be interesting to see how the next 2-3 month pan out with any Trump “initiatives” in the meantime.

    It does surprise me that he is so popular with rank & file soldiers. I would have hoped that his insults to the fallen and McCain would have turned the majority of them against him. As they say, you can’t teach dumb.

  11. Gorkem/AVR/Di:

    I updated the post to reflect the fact of Trump’s use of federal forces to quell protests in Portland and DC (as possible trials for future action). The point being that it is possible that attempts to lay the groundwork for a constitutional coup may have been attempted.

    I should also note that Trump has used his political appointees, who in the federal bureaucracy jargon and pay scales are referred to as “Exempted Service,” to in turn appoint loyalists to career Civil Service jobs. This is significant because ES appointees can be fired without cause because they serve at the president’s discretion–that is why political appointees leave at the end of each administration and usually prepare letters of resignation to that effect very four years in the event that the president is defeated.

    CS personnel, on the other hand, are career bureaucrats who are protected by civil service regulations on hiring and firing. They have a fairly strong union and some of the best HR protections in the country. They are virtually immovable once installed unless they commit major crimes.

    The stacking of CS positions by the Trump administration is consequently another way of prepping the ground for sedition from within.

  12. Strong unions aside, I am pretty sure refusing to take orders from the President is a good cause for removal.

    re: using federal law enforcement to enact a coup, that is more likely – it is in a way surprising that there are not more “police coups” in the world, since even in military coups a lot of the actual work of establishing a coup involves arresting, detaining, interrogating and torturing people, jobs that are at least as much within the police sphere as the military sphere, even in countries with a strong authoritarian tradition. However, the President does not have the power to give orders to law enforcement in the same way he does the military – the President is not the “commander in chief” of the law enforcement community and operational orders do not emanate from him. The President cannot order a police raid in the same way he can order an air strike or a special forces operation. Of course, the people who make operational decisions are appointed by him (or appointed by the people appointed by him) but that kind of indirect control, as opposed to direct operational control, can be problematic in an attempted coup situation.

    One of the main problems of the Trump administration is that Trump clearly wants operational control of law enforcement, to the point of being able to tell them to drop and pick up investigations based on what he believes their priorities should be, but he dosnt really have it. He can pressure and influence and cajole, but not actually decide.

  13. Gorkem:

    I take your point about domestic law enforcement and Trump’s desire to directly control them but you seem to have missed the case that I make about federal forces. Not only does POTUS have direct oversight of armed law enforcement agencies like the FBI (via the Justice Dept), US Marshalls, Border Patrol, ICE, Customs, TSA and Treasury (under DHS), but he also has National Guards from Federal territories like DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. I also failed to mention that his administration is trying to move the Coast Guard out of the Pentagon and into DHS jurisdiction.The fact is that although these force even when taken together are no match for the US military if push comes to shove, but if the US military is internally divided in its loyalties and/or decides to abstain from intervening in the event Trump decides to mobilise the forces that he does control, then the issue gets trickier. Add to that Republican governors coming to his aid with their own repressive agencies and local-level law enforcement supportive of him (say, sheriffs in Alabama), and you get a situation where the monopoly of organised violence within US territorial limits is contested. Since that monopoly is a core component of the notion of a “Sovereign,” even a move to dispute it, be it from within or without the State, is evidence of a coup in the making.

    The main bulwark against this happening is agencies and individuals refusing to follow his orders. The military should be able to do so given their corporate dedication to the constitution. But the rest of the repressive apparatus may not be as resistant to corrosion from within, and once you get beyond the federal level I fear that the matter of divided loyalties is worse than it would seem at first glance. That is why the move to put Trump minions into Federal CS jobs is particularly worrisome, because it infects the middle and upper management levels of the State with gross partisanship in areas that should be “policy neutral,” as it were. It remains to be seen how deeply this infection has spread in the federal bureaucracy.

    The good news since I wrote the post is that some Republicans appear to be coming around to accepting that there is life after Trump. They seem to understand that the Party outlives–or should outlive–individuals, however venerated they may be. So a move to stage a constitutional coup from within in order to turn the State and GOP into vehicles for authoritarian aggrandisement can be better seen in that context and rejected accordingly. We shall see.

  14. Thanks for your explanation, Pablo. I think many thousands of us – millions probably – will be waiting for this period to pass with bated breath.

  15. Well I would not expect the US military to intervene – it has no mandate to get involved in law enforcement.

    But my point is precisely that the President’s control of law enforcement is indirect – it goes via the Justice Dept, via the DHS, etc etc. It is true with a loyal DHS and Justice Dept secretary there is a lot the President can do but he cannot simply pick up the phone and give orders as he can to the armed forces. His role as CinC of the national guard of Guam etc is interesting but it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Guam National Guard is rounding up Democratic Senators and Governors in the lower 48.

    The use of the Border Guards in Portland is an example of the kind of thing Trump wants to be able to do, and he can sporadically do it, but I don’t think he can utilise them for the kind of mass arrests that would be required for a coup, even if the military stands by (which, I stress again, it would have to do – even if the rank and file soldiers or the army leadership feel arrests are illegal, there is no role for the military in correcting that).

    Sure, Republican controlled sheriffs and police departments and state police are another matter – but if we are talking about a national coup, we need national police forces. And I just do not think that Trump has the direct command and control needed for a coup. Don’t get me wrong he can and has got up to plenty of other mischief. But a mass coordinated arrest of his political opponents is not within his powers as President, either formally or practically. Trump would like it if it was, and he likes to behave as if it was, and he has over the 4 years he has been in power nudged it further in that direction, but it is not there yet.

    It is true that some Republicans are edging away from Trump, although it is worth noting that, if you do disagree with me and believe that vederal law enforcement gives Trump a path to a coup, he doesn’t need Republican Congressmen or Senators to do it. (Governors are another matter). But I think this is not that positive a long term development – while they may be willing to separate themselves from Trump, there is no evidence of a repudiation of “Trumpism”, or to use a more scholastically apt term, nationalist populism. I think it is unlikely that Trump will run again in 2024 (although I think he will do his best to keep the possibility alive for self-promotion purposes) but it is pretty much guaranteed that whoever does represent the GOP will be aligned with Trump’s ideology, even if their personal style is different. Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis are all iminently capable of this.

  16. I hope that your confidence in the actual checks on Trump’s ability to use repressive apparatuses for his own purposes proves right, Gorkem.

    Interestingly, the is a recent essay from an analyst at the rightwing think tank Heritage Foundation that suggests that the US create a national police force along the lines of Italy’s Carabinieri, French Gendarmerie, Spanish Gendarmeria and Chilean Carabineros. Must be a coincidence.

  17. In a sense the FBI is already a “national” police force, but it doesn’t have the generic policing mission that the Carabinieri have, even if it does have their power of arrest. I would not be surprised if one day a Trumpist administration does try to create such a force, either by expanding the FBI or creating some kind of new Federal Police (possibly absorbing existing Federal law enforcement like the Border Patrol). Hopefully they are not successful.

  18. Sorry Gorkem, although I share you sentiment about any attempt to create such a force in the US, you clearly need to read up a bit more about Gendarmes. They are a uniformed para-military force in the true sense of the word, with combined police and military functions that are used one way or the other depending on circumstance. In fact, it was the shortcomings of the FBI (in the Heritage Foundation analyst’s view) that was what in part prompted her to write the essay I referenced. Please do not feel obligated to respond. Thanks.

  19. “you clearly need to read up a bit more about Gendarmes. They are a uniformed para-military force in the true sense of the word, with combined police and military functions that are used one way or the other depending on circumstance.”

    Did I say they were not such a force? I don’t think I said anything about the Gendarmes one way or another? :-/

  20. Gorkem,

    C’mon. This is not some sort of tit-for-tat debate about a tangental remark on a suggestion that the US create a gendarme force. The FBI is no such thing (heck, unlike Gendarmes, who have full national jurisdiction and take precedence over local law enforcement authorities, the FBI can only investigate federal, not state cases and only take the lead role in the latter upon invitation from local authorities). Your insistence on always having the last word (in this case continually arguing without having read on the–again, tangental–subject in question) has gotten very tedious and is a waste of my time. Please stop.

  21. Honestly I am very confused about what the point of debate even is. I was agreeing that the FBI is not a gendarme force. I think you and I ar eon the same page so I am not trying to have the last word, just trying to clarify confusion. Having said that feel free not to respond to me – I just leave my comments here so anybody can respind if they wish to, it doens’t have to be you Pablo (originally I wa s responding to Di)

  22. Let me be clear: nit-picking and hair-splitting are objectionable when they are not grounded in clear understanding of the subject and/or unrelated to the subject of the post in question. “Last-wordism” is just tedious.

    However, gas-lighting is unacceptable at any time and will not be tolerated or indulged. You have now moved into gas-lighting territory and in the interest of fairness I ask that you please desist once and for all.

  23. I am very confused now – can you explain how I am gaslighting you? I understand gaslighting is not always gendered but I am not trying to accuse or imply anybody is suffering from an inability to perceive reality. I just think we have got tied up with talking at cross purposes, and I would really welcome some clarification.

    I’m not responding because I want the last word, I am responding because you are making quite strong accusations against me and I don’t understand why. And I want to understand why, and I don’t know how to advance that understanding without discussing it. But at the risk of repeating myself, I understand you are not obliged to respond, but I feel like I owe it to myself and this community to ask.

    It seems that we have gotten mixed up in a relatively mundane conversation about policing in the United States. I understand if you don’t want to continue that conversation, but I don’t see how others continuing it hurts you personally or hurts this blog.

  24. This the end of the conversation. When you claim in a comment that you did not say what you in fact did say two or three comments previously (“I never said that the FBI were a national police”) you are gaslighting. That is a direct insult to my intelligence and therefore a step too far. If you continue you will be banned. That would be a pity since you do make good contributions from time to time, but I have enough of this silliness.

  25. Hi DI,

    The featured clip was not about a coup. Unfortunately, an hour long video will strain my rural broadband cap so I am loathe to go looking for the coup discussion. One thing I find interesting is that Ms. Richardson is clearly a good historian with a broad grasp of events, but when she delves in political matters her lack of grounding in political science clearly shows ( have seen her on other occasions). Perhaps that is a good thing.

  26. Thanks Pablo. I’ve been watching her posts recently and found the historical analysis really informative, but I value your input into the political analysis she provides.

    Interesting and alarming to see that Trump has fired Chris Krebs of Cisa earlier today.

  27. Hi Pablo

    How credible are articles about voter fraud ?

    Combined with your article here, it seems both sides of the U.S political divide are playing different and very dirty games

    All at the expense of their own credibility and global hegemony

  28. Edward:

    There are always instances of fraud in some localities given certain circumstances (say, Chicago during the Machine era or in the Deep South where votes in predominantly African-American districts were undercounted). But in terms of tabulation methods and bipartisan oversight of elections, the trend has been strongly in favour of better electoral integrity. What fraud occurs these days is very unlikely to have an impact on even tight races.

    Trump and the GOP complaints about fraud are simply a way of delegitimising elections that they lost. Trump has form in this regard, as he claimed that the 2016 election was rigged until he won. He claimed that the 2018 midterms were rigged. In the build-up to the 2020 elections he claimed that they were rigged. And now he and some elements in the GOP claim that there was voter fraud where he lost but not where he won. This is transparently specious and dishonest.

    US ballots are on a single sheet of paper that includes everyone from the president/VP to the local sheriff or dogcatcher where these are elective offices. Absentee ballots have several security layers attached to them and in-person ballots are handed out, monitored while the voter is in the polling booth, handed in and tabulated by election officials under the eyes of bipartisan election observers. It is very difficult to commit fraud in the presidential vote without doing so on the rest of the ballot, and yet Trump is making the claim even in places where Republican candidates did well down-ballot.

    The claims are rubbish and just another sign of the deeply ingrained anti-democratic bias of Trump and the GOP (democratic with a small rather than a large “d”).

  29. Sorry this is not on the current topic but has puzzled me for a while. Trump has vociferously stated (yelled rather, not being a statesman he never states) that he is a germaphobe. Wouldn’t a germaphobe want to cover their face against germs floating around them? I suppose just another of the contradictions of this very weird apology for a man.

  30. Barbara:

    I think that his germaphobia, should it indeed exist, is situational. He clearly is not a Howie Mandel type germaphobe. Judging by the multiple accusations and sports of his sexually assaulting women over the years, ranging from unwanted kissing to much worse, I tend to think that, again if all of this is true, he compartmentalises or silos his germ concerns to specific activities, instances people or contexts. After all, phobias are not a “one size fits all” type of disorder.

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