Repeating a point from last night, it’s passing strange that the many Republicans in Congress feigning credulity about Trump’s voter-fraud conspiracies seem to be in no hurry to see the evidence. “What [Sidney] Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history,” said Tucker Carlson a few nights about the Giuliani/Powell press conference on Thursday. That’s right — and yet our Republican-led Senate, which enjoys subpoena power, evinces no urgency in exposing it despite assurances from the president of the United States that the plot is real and the evidence to prove it exists.
The claim is that they GOP has been denied control of the executive branch via a criminal plot by Democrats disenfranchising millions of American voters, an out-and-out coup, and … they’re cool as cucumbers about it. No rush with the evidence, Sidney. Take as much time as you need to destroy public confidence in U.S. elections. There’s not a single Republican anywhere in the legislative branch who seems visibly outraged by what Powell is alleging despite the sensational scale of it, up to and including normally excitable Trump lackeys in the House. Normally these guys are willing to grandstand angrily if a Democrat somewhere so much as farts.
But the single greatest crime in American history? They’re remarkably composed.
Their calm demeanor is the “tell” that they know it’s BS. And the fact that some Trumpers were grumbling on social media this morning about Liz Cheney demanding to see the evidence is the “tell” that many of the president’s fans know it’s BS too. How dare Cheney put Trump and Powell on the spot by insisting that, after 17 days of this garbage, it’s time to put up or shut up?
“America is governed by the rule of law. The President and his lawyers have made claims of criminality and widespread fraud, which they allege could impact election results,” Cheney said in a statement. “If they have genuine evidence of this, they are obligated to present it immediately in court and to the American people.
“I understand that the President has filed more than thirty separate lawsuits. If he is unsatisfied with the results in those lawsuits, then the appropriate avenue is to appeal,” she added. “If the President cannot prove these claims or demonstrate that they would change the election result, he should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process.”
Republican Denver Riggleman, who’s on his way out of Congress after being successfully primaried and thus fully free to speak his mind, told The Hill that the Giuliani/Powell presser was “one of history’s great grifts.” More:
“There are smart, smart people up there [in Congress] that are not coming out and not identifying this for what it is, and this is simply a conspiratorial grift … I believe it’s a fundraising venture,” he said. “The thing is, though, is that when you’re spouting these type of ridiculous alternative facts, there are people that believe it and I think it’s time for everybody to sort of rise up in the GOP and say, ‘This is enough.’”
That’s what Cheney’s doing, with practically no support from her colleagues. The essential point in all this was made yesterday by Jonah Goldberg, responding to Tucker: If it turns out that “the single greatest crime in American history” is based on nothing but hysterical face-saving lies by Trump, Powell, and Giuliani, and if those lies nonetheless convinced some obsequious Republican state legislature somewhere to invalidate its election results, then that would be the greatest crime in American history. Someone is trying to steal the election; the only question, and it’s barely a question, is whether it’s Democrats via a massive international plot that somehow involves Hugo Chavez or if it’s Team Trump by manufacturing a pretense to void the swing-state results. “I don’t see the moral difference between stealing the election using cutting-edge Venezuelan algorithms and stealing the election by peddling deranged nonsense about Venezuelan algorithms,” writes Goldberg. Me neither.
But whichever side turns out to be guilty of attempted theft, they should suffer every legal and social penalty our failing society can muster for them.
The Powell theory of vote-rigging will end up pointing a finger at Dominion software, for the simple reason that electronic chicanery is the only way to vaguely plausibly imagine millions of votes being surreptitiously switched. If Trump had been luckier on election night, he’d be facing a very slim deficit in a single decisive state. Then he wouldn’t need to worry about complex hacking plots and could focus instead on getting actual hard ballots thrown out on technicalities. As it is, he needs a unified field theory to explain why he lost in Georgia and Michigan and Pennsylvania (and Arizona and Wisconsin, ideally, even though those states could flip without costing Biden his majority). “Dominion hacking” is as close as he can get. Unfortunately for him, the facts undercut it in all sorts of ways.
That division answers to the Florida Secretary of State, Laurel Lee, who is a former assistant U.S. attorney and former judge appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019.https://t.co/it7Ne7zmcG
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) November 20, 2020
The hand recount found Biden won Georgia by 12,284 votes, and Trump picked up about 1,400 votes from the initial count, as some Republican-leaning counties failed to count 5,262 votes. It’s good they did the recount!https://t.co/it7Ne7zmcG
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) November 20, 2020
There are “tells” that the Trump legal team itself doesn’t believe there’s anything amiss with Dominion. If they believed it, wouldn’t they focus their recount efforts on counties that … use Dominion machines?
In Wisconsin, some counties use Dominion voting machines and some don’t.
The Trump campaign only requested a recount in Dane County and Milwaukee County—both of which don’t use Dominion machines: https://t.co/AiK4mw4nOM
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) November 20, 2020
Biden did make gains in Wisconsin’s urban centers this year but the suburbs also turned bluer for him, which was the difference in a state decided by 20,000 votes. If Trump is genuinely interested in finding out whether fraud occurred to deny him a win in the state — rather than, say, fostering suspicion about cities with large black populations — then he should be demanding recounts of suburban areas in Wisconsin as well. He isn’t.
The “respectable” members of Trump’s team continue to badmouth Giuliani and Powell to the media on background, recognizing them to be useful scapegoats for a doomed legal effort that would have failed whether Rudy was involved or not:
“The obvious thing is, this is a sh*tshow,” the adviser said. “When the Rudy show started, that was a sidelining of everyone else. At that point, it became an issue of going through the motions and the recognition of, ‘OK, this is definitely over because we don’t have a chance with… these conspiracy theories.’”…
“It appears that none of us are allowed to say [publicly] that that was one of the weirdest f***ing things we’ve ever witnessed,” one senior Trump administration official said [of Thursday’s press conference], noticeably exasperated…
Top officials on Team Trump, knowledgeable sources say, view the current legal endeavor to steal the 2020 election as a “f***ing pile of garbage,” as one official succinctly described it—one that has no chance of working, even as the president continues to throw his support behind it.
That’s from the Daily Beast, which notes that Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien was notably absent from the Giuliani/Powell presser. “[S]ources close to Stepien and on the campaign say that’s because he does not actually support what Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis are doing.” That makes sense, as there are two wings of the GOP operating under Trump. One is the hardcore populist wing that marinates in conspiracy theories and wants to “fight” Democrats with any weapon to hand, including manufacturing lies about a grand conspiracy involving Dominion. The other is the GOP’s professional class, which includes Stepien and Republicans in both houses of Congress, who know it’s all garbage and cringe at the thought of how the effort is wrecking social trust among Americans for nothing more important than Trump’s delicate ego. You can tell whether someone’s in group one or group two depending upon whether they’re loyally pushing Giuliani’s theories despite the lack of evidence or whether they’re maintaining an embarrassed, polite, destructive silence about it. Liz Cheney’s an interesting politician these days because she’s obviously in group two but *isn’t* silent. She’s starting her own group, perhaps.
Michigan and Pennsylvania are set to certify their results on Monday. As the “legal” effort turns from pitiful farce to even more pitiful farce, I’m legitimately excited to see what excuse Rudy and Powell will come up with in the end for failing to produce any evidence of the great Dominion plot. My money’s on “Democratic operatives stole the evidence and destroyed it before we could use it.” Exit quotation from Goldberg: “As for the conservative ‘leaders’ who think it’s their job to tell their readers, viewers, and listeners what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear for the good of the country, my contempt is total.” Mine too.