The danger of a Trump coup is rapidly escalating
Legal experts may say it's a long shot, but the cabal around Trump is serious about trying to overturn the election results. From left: Steve Bannon, white nationalist and apparent strategist of the 'alternative electors' scheme; Trump; lawyer Rudy Giuliani, frontman for the president's legal efforts; and Sidney Powell, Trump campaign election lawyer.

The votes have been counted. The election is over. Joe Biden won. Right?

According to the law, the states will all certify their results and apportion their Electoral College electors between now and Dec. 8. According to the law, the Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 and cast votes for their states—306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. According to the law, Congress will meet on Jan. 6 to put the stamp of approval on the Electoral College results, finalizing all the processes required for the 2020 election. According to the law, that’s it. Come Jan. 20th, 2021, the United States has a new president.

According to the law.

But the administration still occupying the White House has proven again and again these past four years that it couldn’t care less about the law. The impeached president and his coterie of corrupt right-wingers, white supremacists, and coattail-riders are giving their all for one last-ditch effort to overthrow the votes of the people and hold onto power illegally.

With their evidence-free claims of fraud having failed to impress judges, the Trump campaign and the Republican Party are leaving behind the façade of trying to “prove” Biden and the Democrats stole the election. Instead, the GOP regime is moving to sabotage the entire election certification process and going for a Hail Mary pass to have competing slates of electors sent to the Electoral College to steal a win for Trump.

Given the painful show put on by lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and the rest of Trump’s “elite strike force team” at their Thursday press conference, it might be easy to say this whole thing is a joke, that these people can’t be taken seriously.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent though, that very serious people are directing the strategy off-screen. Steve Bannon, the confirmed white supremacist and architect of Trump’s nationalistic and xenophobic “America First” policies, appears to be the one laying out the president’s battle plan. And behind Bannon has long stood the big money of those capitalist interests who’ve never had much concern for democracy, especially if it gets in the way of profits.

Within hours of the election ending, on Nov. 5 Bannon declared the outlines of the approach we now see coming to fruition: “Fortune favors boldness… Kick it to the state legislatures, kick it to the House of Representatives…. We win there.”

These coup plotters are boldly telling us exactly what they’re trying to do. The people’s movements and all politicians with any shred of democratic sensibility would be wise to take them at their word, because if we don’t stand up to block them, we may end up looking back on these crucial weeks as the time when American democracy died.

Giuliani, with sweat and cheap hair dye dripping down his face at GOP headquarters on Thursday, was blunt in discussing the racist scheme the campaign hopes to pull off in Michigan. “It changes the results of the election…if you take out Wayne County.” Keep those votes from being certified, and the election can be declared a failure, and—Bingo!—the GOP state legislature appoints its own electors. What Rudy meant, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez translated for us, was: “We can undermine the election by stripping Black Americans of their civil rights.”

Powell, Giuliani’s sidekick at the podium, ventured even deeper into the realm of the absurd, linking up the old fascist standbys, anti-communism, and anti-Semitism, in an attempt to paint Trump as victim. She spun a tale of “communist money” from China and dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez funding the computer system that robbed Trump of his votes, all with the help of financier George Soros. She threw in a lie that Trump votes were fed into some nefarious German server which then spit them back out into U.S. election tallies as Biden votes.

The clownish press conference would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Later in the evening, speaking to Lou Dobbs on Fox Business, Powell was more direct in describing what they’re up to: “The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states, should be overturned, and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.” Her justification for doing so trailed off into incoherent babble: “It’s going to have to follow the constitutional provisions that it go…be decided…according to the amendment…it’s just…yeah.”

They may represent a bumbling, ill-disciplined, and pitiful excuse for a fascist cabal, but the forces grouped around the outgoing president are unbound by any of the normal trappings of legality, respectability, or proper behavior that usually keep bourgeois politicians within certain bounds.

The Republican Party endorses these actions, echoing the claims of Trump’s co-conspirators on official GOP media channels. | @GOP via Twitter

And that means their threats to set aside the votes of nearly 80 million Americans who decided to close the book on the Trump regime—far-fetched as court experts say those threats may be—cannot be ignored or dismissed.

The president, absent from public view for days, is also abusing the levers of power he still has available to overthrow the vote—and breaking the law in the process. According to former Michigan GOP election official Jeff Timmer, members of the state’s Boards of Canvassers—the bodies charged with certifying results—are getting calls direct from Trump himself. The president also invited Michigan lawmakers to the White House for a Friday meeting to exert pressure on them to go along with the alternative slates scheme.

It is obvious that crimes are being committed in pursuit of stealing this election. There was already the episode of Sen. Lindsey Graham twisting the arm of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to throw out mail ballots. Republican canvassers in Wayne County are still trying to rescind the certification of African-American votes in Detroit. Throw in everything Trump, Giuliani, Powell, and Bannon are doing, and there’s more than enough evidence for Trump to be impeached, again.

The Republican Party at large is endorsing and participating in all of this. Its official media channels are echoing the lies of Trump’s co-conspirators. Unlike the people representing Trump on TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is no bumbling fool. He could end this right now by speaking up and pushing 47 GOP senators to do the same. But he says nothing and instead leverages the situation to raise money for the Georgia Senate run-off races. He’s showing that he is perfectly willing to jump into bed with the fascists around Trump.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is one of the lonely GOP voices challenging the coup in progress, saying it is “difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action” than Trump’s strong-arming of state legislators. But by and large, the GOP has already earned history’s condemnation.

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal is the clearest voice in Washington speaking up about what is unfolding. “This is the path to fascism,” she declared Thursday. “Stand with your country. Condemn Trump for trying to topple democracy.”

Jayapal is right. Many may have thought the fight to protect the results and defend the vote ended when Biden was declared the winner on Nov. 7. As we can now see, the danger of a subverted election is growing greater by the day.

It’s a longshot, but Trump could still overturn the vote if no one stops him. If he does, it would mean the death of democracy in this country. Mobilize now.


People’s World Editorial Board
People’s World Editorial Board

People’s World Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief John Wojcik, Managing Editor C.J. Atkins, Social Media Editor Chauncey K. Robinson, Senior Editor Roberta Wood, Senior Editor Joe Sims, Copy Editor Eric A. Gordon, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Mark Gruenberg