Less Than Meets the Eye

The utter smallness of Trump's legal challenges to the election.

Source: The White House

First, I will reiterate that the baseless claims of president Trump and his allies in regard to the elections are irresponsible and dangerous. The purposeful and dishonest sowing of distrust in our electoral processes is damaging to our democracy.

Second, there is not doubt that Trump is doing just that. For example from his Twitter feed yesterday:

This is nonsense, made to feel all the more manic by the all caps attack. Sadly, people like Lou Dobbs are helping to deepen this new narrative that Dominion voting software was used to change votes. (More on that here from the NYT: No, Dominion voting machines did not delete Trump votes).

If there was a modicum of evidence for this, it would be shocking and concerning (not to mention an existential crisis for our democracy) and legal action should be undertaken immediately. But, of course, it is just a story spun up by places like OAN and Newsmax and then feverishly repeated by one of the most irresponsible men in the world (by dint of the office he continues to hold) and repeated to a larger audience by those who have sold their soul like Dobbs.

So, third, while it is true that Trump has every right to use the courts for legitimate concerns, the reality has been that not only is there zero evidence for fraud, massive or otherwise. Indeed, what which the Trump team has brought to court has been meager, to be kind. As a Politico headline put it, ‘It’s all noise’: The reality behind Trump’s legal fight.

Legally, the Trump team has not made much, if any, progress. Since the Nov. 3 election, the president’s attorneys have not won significant legal challenges in the key swing states Biden won or leads in: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. In some cases, Trump’s team didn’t present the evidence needed to invalidate ballots. Other times, his team didn’t even send in the right documents.

[…]

Ned Foley, director of election law at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University, said the Trump campaign efforts are far from a “conventional legal strategy.”

“They’re just suing for the sake of suing,” Foley said. “It doesn’t seem like it’s a strategy that’s designed to win in court.”

There is a lot more in that piece. Further, the challenges have been for mathematically pointless numbers of ballots (despite grandiose claims by Trump on Twitter and Giuliani/other surrogates on television).

For example, via Rich Hansen at the Atlantic: Trump Needs Three Consecutive Hail Mary Passes.

In Arizona, where Biden now leads by about 15,000 votes, the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit that could call at most 200 votes into question.

Also, from the AJC: Georgia judge dismisses Trump campaign case in Chatham ballot dispute.

The Trump campaign lost a pair of legal challenges on Thursday, with a Savannah judge dismissing allegations that late mail-in ballots were being counted in the coastal Georgia community and a Michigan judge rejecting an effort to stop the vote count there.

In both cases, the judges found no evidence to support claims that tried to raise concerns about the integrity of ballot counting.

[…]

The Georgia case was filed late Wednesday after two GOP observers in Chatham County raised concerns about what they saw at the Board of Registrars office. The two questioned whether 53 ballots they suspected were late had been mingled with a stack of other absentee ballots. Georgia law requires any ballot that arrives after 7 p.m. on Election Day to be invalidated.

Emphasis mine. Look, I understand and agree that no improper ballot should be counted, and if there was evidence to toss the 53 (which there wasn’t) then they should be tossed. But the point is that the Trump team has constantly not only lost challenges in court, but those challenges have also largely been trivial in the grand scheme of things. And the triviality of the legal battles is made all the more obvious by the grandiosity of the claims made by Trump himself since election night.

When there is evidence (to speak) it is like this via WaPo: In poll watcher affidavits, Trump campaign offers no evidence of fraud in Detroit ballot-counting.

On Wednesday, President Trump’s campaign asked a federal judge to take a drastic step: block the state of Michigan from certifying the results of its presidential election. President-elect Joe Biden now leads Trump by about 148,000 votes there.

To back up that lawsuit, Trump’s campaign had promised “shocking” evidence of misconduct.

Instead, the campaign produced 238 pages of affidavits from Republican poll watchers across Michigan containing no evidence of significant fraud but rather allegations about ballot-counting procedures that state workers have already debunked — and in some cases, complaints about rude behavior or unpleasant looks from poll workers or Democratic poll watchers.

 The affidavits (which have been a generic talking point for Team Trump, as if having affidavits are proof) contain things like:

one Republican poll watcher complained that workers were wearing Black Lives Matter gear. She thought one of them — a “man of intimidating size” — had followed her too closely.

and

“I felt intimidated by union people who were staring at me,” one GOP poll watcher wrote.

This is not even about ballots. It certainly isn’t an example of voter fraud.

The Blaze (which I normally would not cite) is an example of a pro-Trump outlet trying to tout these affidavits: The Trump campaign has released 234 pages of affidavits regarding alleged voting irregularities in Michigan. Here’s what they say.

I have skimmed the list provided and there is a lot of interpretation going on. Still, the author tallies the results as follows:

The testimony contained in these affidavits clearly pertains to fewer than 1,000 total ballots, although it should be noted that numerous affiants complained that they were not able to see what was happening because they were required to maintain six feet of social distance or because people were in their way.

In terms of massive fraud, this ain’t it. And, as the author correctly notes “Keep in mind that, at this point, these are mere allegations that have not been tested by cross-examination or any other form of investigation.”

I was struck that this reminds me of reading student evaluations of faculty, insofar as “some of the allegations appear to be borne out of failure to understand how the process was supposed to be carried out.”

As the unsubstantiated observations of partisan non-experts, this is thin gruel to challenge an election, and Rudy and Company can rant all they like about affidavits, but there is a reason they are making no headway in court.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2024, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    I don’t know, he appears quite portly in that picture.

    It’s all an attempt to extend the con. Once a grifter, always a grifter.

    5
  2. CSK says:

    I mentioned yesterday that someone had posited that Trump knows full well he’s lost the election, and that all this ruckus is just theater to satisfy his fan club.

    I suppose he’s massaging his own outraged ego as well.

    6
  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I am taking great pleasure in watching this self-proclaimed alpha-male exposing himself as the puerile beta-boi that he really is.
    It almost makes the last four years worth it. Almost. Unfortunately almost 250,000 people have died, ~70% of those souls directly attributable to his weakness and incompetence.
    In a sane world his cult would see his behavior and recognize him for the fraud he is. But I know that’s not going to happen.

    3
  4. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    If you’re a cultist, you know, you just know, that Trump is the bravest, smartest, stongest, and Godliest president we’ve ever, ever had.

    4
  5. Kingdaddy says:

    The problem now is the lack of barriers to making false accusations of voter fraud. One’s own conscience, fear of public shaming, concern for the strength of our democracy — these are no longer deterrents for malefactors. Also, the ethical problem of filing a series of frivolous lawsuits apparently doesn’t exist for some lawyers.

    Unless there is some public backlash against politicians who act this way, other strong remedies don’t exist, as far as I know. I would hate to see this “legal campaign” become a precedent, but what’s to prevent repeat behavior in future elections?

    21
  6. @Kingdaddy: I agree and, as noted, think that all of this is quite damaging.

    Still, the utter smallness of the attempt is still something to behold.

    The problem is that people watching FNC are being told otherwise.

    4
  7. Mikey says:

    Law firm Porter Wright, which was running Trump’s legal challenges in Pennsylvania, just bailed.

    10
  8. JohnSF says:

    Looks like some law firms are getting cold feet: PorterWright resiles from the Pennsylvania fraud allegations case
    Edit:@Mikey: beat me by a minute!

    2
  9. Kingdaddy says:

    From Greg Sargent in The Washington Post:

    There you have it: The need to keep Republican voters energized in Georgia could negatively impact planning for vaccine distribution amid a surging pandemic.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/11/13/war-among-trumps-kids-shows-this-family-wont-let-us-move/

    3
  10. ImProPer says:

    Trump and his legal circus, in their mindless strategy to prove massive fraud, have once again beaten themselves. No need for the respondents to present evidence of the system being able to detect individual cases of suspected fraud, Trump and his crack legal team, in their blitzkrieg of straw grasping, and feces flinging, inadvertently provides overwhelming evidence to this fact.
    Coordinated wide spread fraud, undetected in this election, not a chance. Evidence of the willful, undermining of our political, and legal institutions, to promote an unpopular, and profitable agenda. Overwhelming.

    5
  11. Mikey says:

    @Kingdaddy: They do not care. How many Americans will die? They do not care. What damage will pushing Trump’s lies do to America? They do not care.

    All they care about is power, the Constitution and the American people be damned.

    6
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump has not spoken in public in 8 days.

    This is not about his fan club, this is not nine dimensional chess, this isn’t even Chutes and Ladders, this is about Trump’s weakness of character and his well-justified fears of poverty, imprisonment and humiliation.

    And no, this is not about keeping the base riled up for Georgia, Trump could not possibly give less of a shit about the Senate or the Republican Party. The Cult Leader is all, in his own mind as well as in the minds of MAGAts.

    13
  13. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The problem is that people watching FNC are being told otherwise.

    That’s rather the point. From The NY Times:

    “He knows it’s over,” one adviser said… Mr. Trump is simply trying to survive from one news cycle to the next, seeing how far he can push his case against his defeat and ensure the continued support of his Republican base.

    Emphasis mine. Trump doesn’t care about the Georgia Senate seats and he’s really not trying to stay in the WH. He’s working to prolong his relevance to his fandom. He primary objective is to avoid the stink of “Loser” on his brand and “Cheated” sells really well to Trumpkins. Victim-hood is really big with this crowd as we all know.

    So, Trump doesn’t care if the Republicans hold the Senate – he’s not going to be able to leverage them for his grift anymore anyway. He doesn’t care about undermining democracy – he’s an authoritarian, so democracy is failure, not a feature, of the American system. He doesn’t care about how his legacy will be captured in the history books – the academics are “Fake History” and besides he’ll make tons of money on his memoir which will be full of lies about his martyrdom.

    He wants to stay out of court, keep as much of his wealth as he can, and keep open every possible opportunity to work his grift. If you understand what he wants, there’s plenty here that is working for him.

    7
  14. Mister Bluster says:

    Just heard a reporter on NPR state that foreign leaders are trying to contact President Elect Joe Biden but that the United States State Department refuses to forward the messages.

    Trump and his lickspittles are enemies of the Constitution of the United States…but we have known that for almost four years now haven’t we.

    3
  15. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    After the disaster four years ago, I spent a very long time looking at the final electoral map, wondering how the f**g hell WI, MI, and PA went so wrong.

    I imagine this time it’s the turn of the Cheeto supporters to look not just at those states, but also at AZ and GA, and be tortured by alternate visions of what might have been.

  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I read that yesterday.

  17. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Scott F.:
    I do think Trump is interested in the Republicans: as human shields.

    Question is, how many Republican pols have figured that out by now?

    2
  18. Kathy says:

    Mexico used to engage in regular, massive electoral fraud, to keep up the pretense that elections mattered. I know what it looks like, and it’s not what we’re seeing in America, not even close.

    For instance, there’s no mass giveaways of groceries and gasoline and gift cards if you’ll just take a short ride to a polling station and vote four our candidate. No raffles among the lucky recipients for TVs or cell phones or refrigerators, either.

    No polling commissions made up of five Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent who vote on what results will be reported “See, the Democratic candidate got 700 votes, vs 2,000 for the Republican and, ha ha, six for the Independent. Let’s say we report 7,000 votes for the Democrat, 1,000 for the Republican, and 1,006 for the Independent. All in favor? The motion carries. What do you mean undemocratic? It’s five to three, a clear majority!”

    There are no millions of voter registration slips that went missing, or were burned in a warehouse fire that affected just the small corner they occupied, all in red states. No reports of being handed a pre-filled out ballot to just dump in an urn. No reports of polling stations that were issued 5,000 ballots reporting 25,000 votes. No districts with 100,000 inhabitants reporting 2,000,000 votes.

    That’s electoral fraud, not a few hundred ballots here and there.

    11
  19. inhumans99 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Here’s the thing, Biden was VP for 8 years plus he has a deep bench of contact numbers from all the years he has spent as a politician and I am pretty sure that many world leaders have his secure cell phone number and can bypass using the White House switchboard to route their calls to Biden. Pope Francis, Boris Johnson, etc., have all talked to Biden and while Biden may have called them I am pretty sure he will get around to speaking to members of the Saudi Royal family, or quite frankly the Saudis should just be able to direct call Biden as I am sure they have his number or the number of someone who can pass along Biden’s private line to them to call.

    Also, Politico and many other sources have articles up that indicate that yup, Trump knows he is not being sworn in again on 01/20, it is all about trying to retain some influence on the GOP party and getting the rubes to pony up to pay to hear him babble on incessantly via a media empire he wants to set up post Presidency.

    Folks like Karl Rove are Rich Lowry and putting it out there that Trump either has no chance of winning even with recounts and/or has no chance of enacting a coup by letting Red States ensure that only GOP members of the electoral college vote when the deadline looms. Rich and others have noted that the U.S. has not dealt with a Coup attempt pretty much ever (or at least not any serious attempt at a Coup over the past 100+ years) and we will not be dealing with one come this January.

    You know what, I acknowledge I spazzed out a few days ago on this site about GOP Coup attempts but this spaz will admit he was wrong and Rich and Karl are correct, Trump is just being a child enabled by adults who should know better and we will be swearing Biden in soon enough.

    Anyway, I think we are crazy close to putting it to the test whether or not folks really want to throw money at Trump if he creates a paywall site where folks can hear him babble 24/7 but if everyone has to pay to hear Trump’s words of wisdom how will the very liberals he is trying to rile up with his words ever know they are supposed to freak out at Trump’s continued attempts to stay relevant. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to witness the event did it make a sound?

    Also, as a normal Joe Twitter will most like shut down his account frequently if he goes over the line with his incendiary comments, so again, if the primary way to hear Trump’s words of wisdom is to pay for them will he really be able to retain the influence he currently has on the GOP?

    Fox will only give him a perch if he does not spend 30-60 minutes of airtime sounding like a 2 year old rambling out loud in the back seat of a car on a long ride down from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

    Trump is all sound and fury right now but it is sinking in that he never set things up behind the scenes with the electoral college to have the votes thrown in his favor, and the military has no plans to back his play, I think a bit of my fear about Trump as a person might be much ado about nothing.

    5
  20. Monala says:

    Peter Navarro on Fox Business News today:

    “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption that there will be a second Trump term… We think he won that election, and any speculation about what Joe Biden might do, I think, is moot at this point.”

    CNN today:

    Though he is just the fourth incumbent president since World War II to lose reelection, Republicans have no choice but to continue to embrace him or risk alienating his substantial base of supporters.

    My emphasis added — as though Republicans are helpless victims, rather than craven opportunists.

    7
  21. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    I imagine this time it’s the turn of the Cheeto supporters to look not just at those states, but also at AZ and GA, and be tortured by alternate visions of what might have been.

    Most of them are refusing to believe the election results are valid. They believe it was stolen, and that’s going to be their narrative going forward.

    You are making the mistake of attributing to Trumpists an ability to self-reflect. Like I’ve said many times before–and has been demonstrated by certain commenters here–they live in a world absolutely sealed off from the slightest scintilla of doubt. Not only are they certain that their version of reality is correct, it is literally impossible for them to even entertain the possibility that it might not be so. It’s like trying to get a congenitally blind person to understand red. It can’t be done, because they simply lack that perceptive ability. In their minds, they are right, they are the silent majority, Covid is a hoax, Donald is always a winner–and that’s that. No matter what happens, no matter what information they are presented with, they will interpret it according to those immovable preconceptions. It is as inevitable as the sun rises.

    6
  22. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    Don’t think that Cult45 isn’t savoring its power, or what it believes is its power. As one of them gloated after the 2016 election: “We’re in the driver’s seat now.”

    3
  23. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    Emphasis mine. Trump doesn’t care about the Georgia Senate seats and he’s really not trying to stay in the WH.

    Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP people pushing this stuff very much do care about the GA senate seats. They would not be pushing this stuff if they didn’t, they have no reason to care what Trump thinks apart from how he might affect that.

    Also, of course, they care about continued favor from Trump’s culties.

    4
  24. gVOR08 says:

    @inhumans99: If I may, two observations to amplify your comment. First, you’ll remember that in 2016 Trump seemed to be frantically trying to set up a private back-channel to Putin. This was an indication of Trump’s eagerness to do gawd knows what, but also an indication of he and his teams rank amateurishness. Hillary, as an ex SoS, and Biden, probably both have a dozen people in their contacts who are willing and able to make a discreet call to Putin directly.

    Second, it’s fair to have feared a coup attempt. Trump is making an attempt, but it’s a clown act. The time to organize it was a year ago, not a week after the election. But there was always a low, but not zero, probability threat that Barr or someone else competent was doing it for him. We don’t know what would have happened had it been, like 2000, a few hundred votes in one state. Or two. Biden won by a ratfrack proof margin. That does not prove there would have been no ratfracking had it been otherwise. But the real fear is that Trump has shown the path to some harder working and more competent future GOP.

    5
  25. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    they may not ask themselves what they did wrong or how Pessimus Minus failed, but they will wonder how they wuz robbed and agonize the posibilities for a long time to come.

    I’ll settle for that.

    It’s like trying to get a congenitally blind person to understand red.

    Did you not see Mask? I wonder if that would work to convey a feel.

    NOTE: not The Mask with Jim Carrey and Cameron Díaz.

  26. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    We don’t know what would have happened had it been, like 2000, a few hundred votes in one state. Or two.

    Not know because it didn’t happen, but it’s clear where the odds would lay. That was my fear before PA was called for Biden, as AZ and NV were not big enough in EVs to secure the election, not without PA’s 20 EVs.

    There is a measure of dignity in not giving up. Ever hear of John Stephen Akhwari? He finished last in the Marathon at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, over one hour after the winner, and after injuring his knee and shoulder in a fall which resulted from a cramp. He still finished the race.

    That’s not what Trump Minimus is doing now.He’s already come in last in Electoral votes, which are the votes that matter, and is demanding to be declared the winner. That’s just a sore loser (with emphasis on LOSER, as in one-term loser). There’s no dignity in that.

    1
  27. Scott F. says:

    @charon:
    What Mitch and GOP leaders want and what Trumpworld (including Trump) wants are not mutually exclusive, but they aren’t mutually inclusive either.

    The GOP and Trumpworld factions aren’t working with each other, they are using each other. When one faction stops finding the other faction useful, neither will hesitate to throw the other under the bus. And to be clear, neither faction cares all that much about whether “the purposeful and dishonest sowing of distrust in our electoral processes is damaging to our democracy.”

    4
  28. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    Most of them are refusing to believe the election results are valid. They believe it was stolen, and that’s going to be their narrative going forward.

    This, as was evidence by Tom Parker here just a day or two ago who had no real interest in any actual evidence beyond what he believed (and wasn’t looking for any actual verification of what Right Wing media sources told him to believe).

    Also, the Trump campaign just gave up on AZ, the state where Biden had the smallest lead. That doesn’t bear well for any of the other states (where again, they have not been able to demonstrate any real cases of fraud or even significant irregularities).

    1
  29. Pylon says:

    I think to some extent, because they had no evidence of widespread fraud, they hoped that a win on a small amount of ballots could lever them into saying “See, if those ones are bad, who knows how many more there are”. Hence their focus on computer glitches, sharpiegate, etc. But the actual complaints don’t even reveal something that could get their toe in the door. And they are losing them all anyway. The only “win” was a case involving a very small number of PA ballots that were cured in after the legislated deadline of Nov. 9, in an extension to Nov. 12 that was summarily granted by the state. And those ballots had already been segregated and not counted. They at most don’t add to the lead Biden already has (and for all we know they could actually have been pro-Trump).

    1
  30. Kathy says:

    FWIW, CNN has called Georgia for Biden and North Carolina for The Orange Loser. This gives Biden, according to Donald trump the greatest presidential election victory of all time, as he equaled the Loser’s EC vote count, but also won the popular vote by over 5 million.

    1
  31. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Pylon:

    I think to some extent, because they had no evidence of widespread fraud, they hoped that a win on a small amount of ballots could lever them into saying “See, if those ones are bad, who knows how many more there are”. Hence their focus on computer glitches, sharpiegate, etc.

    That might be Trump’s motivation, but for the rest of the Reps backing the story, I think it’s more of undermining the legitimacy of Biden’s administration. It gives them justification to be hard-nosed about blocking anything the Dems want.

  32. JohnSF says:

    @inhumans99:
    @gVOR08:
    There’s a lot of speculation about what Trump is up to at the moment in relation to DOD and others.
    Well, here’s my half-farthing’s worth: Trump may be satisfying grudges and venting his bad temper.
    But there’s also a very good chance that he, and perhaps even more others in his camp (hi Don Jr! hi Devin!), are desperately trying to find and remove some key pieces of evidence; and to publish others (for a variety of reasons).

    Problem is going to be when a Trump appointee instructs a permanent post guy to “delete that; shred this” and said career employee says “okay, you’re the boss; but I’ll need that in writing”.
    (And they will need the career guys to ensure they have got all the copies)
    Appointee experiences a sudden uncomfortable vision of a future involving prosecutors, sworn testimony, perjury peril and frowning judges. Oh oh.

    2
  33. Jay L Gischer says:

    @mattbernius: Changing one’s worldview is painful and hard. It doesn’t happen overnight, and one does not normally thank people for the correction.

    I hope Tom Parker comes back. I mean to make him feel welcome. He did not seem to be here to lob grenades and run away, so one must ask, why was he here? He has both values which I mean to respect, and a bunch of misconceptions about how those values play out in the world, which I will be happy to challenge.

    Please remember though, change is very unusual. And people generally don’t like having to change. That’s what Steven has been trying to tell us for a long time.

    And yet, changing is exactly what Red America is going to need to do. The world has changed, and they need to figure out how to live in it, though they are currently engaged in trying to roll it back.

    3
  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Pylon: The other thing that occurs to me is that the types of “evidence” listed here are of a piece with complaints of misspending of thousands, or even millions of dollars in multi-trillion dollar budgets as though reining in the “fraud” would balance the budget. Tyrell has been big in the past at finding some unusual budget item line–ssd”$25 million on a study of what shade of red is best for stop signs!!!”–that he imagines shows that if we were better at controlling spending, a 1-trillion+ dollar budget shortfall would disappear.

    The key seems to me that both groups really want to believe that there are enough stop sign studies to cancel out trillions in deficit spending and enough late ballots counted to cancel out a 4 million vote margin. Innumeracy is an amazing thing.

    And all based on “we don’t know that for sure.”

    6
  35. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    As the Trumpkins have been boring on about “media calls don’t matter, blah, blather” I’ve been keeping an eye on the actual logged votes for when Biden’s margin exceeds the remaining vote i.e. it becomes arithmetically impossible for Trump to win in a state.

    Arizona passed that point-of-no-return at 6:16 pm GMT.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    This, as was evidence by Tom Parker here just a day or two ago who had no real interest in any actual evidence beyond what he believed

    My impression of Parker was quite different. He came in kind of looking for a fight, and kind of looking for a discussion. He got a bit of a fight, but more discussion and that kind of knocked the wind out of his sails. When he arrived he was questioning his orthodoxy, and might have come here to have his worst stereotypes of “the others” confirmed so he could justify his belief in Trump as a positive disruptor. My nickel psychology is that when we, for the most part, reacted to his points rather than his anger (brought about by disappointment), it didn’t give him the resolution he was hoping for and just made him depressed and disgusted with the whole world.

    Maybe he went off to poke at some more fire breathing liberals. Or maybe he’s just tired of it all. But I was glad he came, and I was glad the dialogue didn’t go off the rails as so often happens.

    4
  37. David S. says:

    Keep in mind that tantrums about election fraud is something that Trump can continue to do on behalf of the Russians. In terms of foreign interests, the point isn’t to make Trump win; the point is to destabilize and undermine trust, and Trump’s behavior remains perfectly useful to that purpose.

    3
  38. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Well, now that Trump has encountered defendants who don’t give a rodent’s posterior about his exalted position, and are well prepared to refute his wild claims, his strategy of “sue the bastards” isn’t working so well (snicker).

    1
  39. Jen says:

    @JohnSF:

    Well, here’s my half-farthing’s worth: Trump may be satisfying grudges and venting his bad temper.

    There have been a few news items about this, but it appears to boil down to some information about Russian interference in 2016 (yes, really). Whatever this information is, Trump thinks it will exonerate him, but the intelligence community is really standing firm against declassifying it, as it will reveal sources and methods and will out key allies. CIA Director Haspel has been very aggressively pushing back.

    Gina Haspel was kept out of an intelligence meeting at the White House today.

    1
  40. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    This is not about his fan club, this is not nine dimensional chess, this isn’t even Chutes and Ladders, this is about Trump’s weakness of character and his well-justified fears of poverty, imprisonment and humiliation.

    At a certain point, what it is about in Trump’s “mind” is beside the point. The damage he is doing by radicalizing an already disinformed base will be the same, whether he is doing it for the grift or for the lulz or just basic dog-in-the-manger spite.

    4
  41. JohnSF says:

    @Jen:
    Seen a few angles on it:
    – something that indicates Trump was being “investigated” so supporting his claims, but only because it’s partial/misunderstood; and not appropriate for release due to source/method security
    – an attempt to “pollute” evidence by releasing part of genuine evidence that is bad for Trump along with a load of false/unverified “raw” information
    – that there is hard evidence so far not used in any proceedings that is very, very, bad news for one (or several) of Don Jr/Flynn/Nunes/Stone
    All rumour and what-if-ery at this point; but I have a feeling something fishy is going on.
    And a military coup plainly NOT on the cards; comment by JCS Chair General Milley

    “We take an oath to the Constitution. …each of us will protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price,”

    3
  42. flat earth luddite says:

    @JohnSF:

    Problem is going to be when a Trump appointee instructs a permanent post guy to “delete that; shred this” and said career employee says “okay, you’re the boss; but I’ll need that in writing”…(And they will need the career guys to ensure they have got all the copies)

    Having been the lowly spear-carrier to a similarly situated Mighty One, I can tell you that MY reaction to the order was, “alrighty boss, sure, right away,” followed immediately by burning TWO extra copies of the documents on secure media, and stashing the origin docs in a secure location. “Ain’t nobody in THIS office I’m going to jail for.” But I wish them luck in finding someone who’ll actually destroy the evidence. [winky-nudge emoji]

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  43. mattbernius says:

    @Jay L Gischer & @MarkedMan, I didn’t get to go too far into that thread. I support anyone who is looking for a conversation. If that’s the case I hope he’s willing to come back and be willing to engage. Hopefully, he can get to a point where he’s willing to look critically at some of his own assumptions.

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  44. Monala says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: the guys at Pod Save America made this point: don’t pay attention to what Trump and his minions say on TV or Twitter. Pay attention to what their lawyers say in court, because unlike rantings in the media or social media, lawyers just can’t get up and spew lies in court.

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  45. DrDaveT says:

    @mattbernius:

    I didn’t get to go too far into that thread. I support anyone who is looking for a conversation.

    My take was more that he interpreted “your positions are based on falsehoods” as a personal attack, went into snowflake mode, railed a bit about the liberal echo chamber, and went off to find easier pickin’s.

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  46. mattbernius says:

    @DrDaveT:

    My take was more that he interpreted “your positions are based on falsehoods” as a personal attack, went into snowflake mode, railed a bit about the liberal echo chamber, and went off to find easier pickin’s.

    That was my take as well, which was kinda backed up by the behavior I experienced (kinda a Gish Gallop, but a pissy version of it).

    But I honestly was in a crappy mood that night and want giving him any benefit of a kinder reading. Which isn’t my preferred more of interacting. Thanks 2020.

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Cause and effect. He is what he is and the people who worship him are who they are, sheep to be sheared.

    But I have a feeling the Cult of Personality will fade faster than some think. You’re going to see more voices inside the white evangelical community questioning their deal with the devil. The Quidiots are at loose ends. The FBI will soon be under new management and will make short work of Proud Boys and militias. And talk of running again in 2024 is not welcome news to Rubio or Liz Cheney or even Tom Cotton.

    I think Rupert Murdoch’s lie machine is going to be slowly, incrementally unleashed on Trump. He’s not going to allow his monster to mess with the business. Limbaugh’s fading. These various rump Fox News wannabes will fail, these people are not Roger Ailes, still less Rupert.

    I expect 10 years from now Trump’s dead and revered by some, embarrassing to others, a sort of campy figure, like Ernest Angley.

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  48. Kurtz says:

    @Kylopod:

    You are making the mistake of attributing to Trumpists an ability to self-reflect. Like I’ve said many times before–and has been demonstrated by certain commenters here–they live in a world absolutely sealed off from the slightest scintilla of doubt. Not only are they certain that their version of reality is correct, it is literally impossible for them to even entertain the possibility that it might not be so. It’s like trying to get a congenitally blind person to understand red. It can’t be done, because they simply lack that perceptive ability. In their minds, they are right, they are the silent majority

    I was going to mention the notion of the silent majority. 538 has an article today arguing that Trump supporters were primed for the fraud narrative.

    It’s not just what we consider core Trump supporters–it’s quite a few, perhaps most, Regular ass Republicans–buying the fraud tale. Why wouldn’t they? Trump didn’t invent this nonsense. It’s been part of GOP messaging for a long time. The Silent Majority identity politics frame buttresses the narrative.

  49. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Solid point re. Murdoch.
    A lot of Republican politicians may dither when it comes to taking on the Donald, as they are torn between the need to clear the Court of Trump out of the path of their ambition, and the desire to inherit the Trumpified base.
    Some probably still dream of being anointed by Trump.

    Murdoch won’t dither if he determines the threat is serious.

    Murdoch, even at his age, is sharp, ruthless and utterly unsentimental.
    And probably not too worried about any collateral damage to the GOP.
    Trump can do nothing for him now; and Trump already is toying with threatening Fox (some MAGA twitter is already in “boycott Fox” mode).
    Unless Trump backs off, Murdoch will move against him.

    OTOH, if “Trump Media” is just a shitty website incompetently run by second raters, dodgy about paying its bills, and focusing on grifting the rubes, Murdoch will likely dismiss it as small potatoes.

    To be a real threat to Fox, Trump will need serious money.
    Who, at this point, is both rich enough and stupid enough?