Thursday, November 19, 2020

-Rudy Giuliani acting out his "favorite law movie," for legal reasons

Donald Trump’s attempted election heist has moved beyond the crayon-scrawled lawsuit stage, and into Phase II: Pressuring state and local officials to illegally steal electoral votes for him in plain sight. 

  • After the election board in Wayne County, MI, voted to certify the county’s election results on Tuesday night, Trump called the two Republican members who had flirted for a few hours with blocking the certification. Those two goobers then changed their minds and tried to rescind their votes on Wednesday, a move that shall henceforth be known as “calling for a re-coup.” Michigan’s secretary of state made clear that Wayne County’s certification vote was final, after which the Trump campaign dismissed its last Michigan lawsuit with the false explanation that Wayne County’s certification had been blocked. For sure!
  • Meanwhile, it’s onto statewide election interference: Trump has invited the two top Republicans in Michigan’s GOP-controlled legislature to the White House on Friday, presumably to twist their arms into going rogue and appointing a slate of Trump electors over the clear will of the voters. Both Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield have said they have no intention of taking a bazooka to the democratic process, but we can’t overstate how cool it is that Trump is trying, and giving Republicans a chance to normalize a ploy they would condemn without hesitation if it were unfolding in any other country.
  • Trump has escalated his efforts to derail vote certifications and hijack the electoral college because he’s running out of time. The Trump campaign is now 1-32 in court, and state officials say they’re still on track to meet their fast-approaching certification deadlines, which would mean that the election results will be set in stone by December 8. Trump has turned his focus to Michigan because it’s the only key state with bipartisan election boards that he thinks he can bully, but even in the unrealistic scenario that his bullying worked, he would still need to loot the electoral votes of at least two other states to “reach” 270. 

There’s some chance we’ve been underestimating Trump’s sleeper strategy: Making Americans listen to Rudy Giuliani until our brains leak out of our ears and we numbly accept our fate.

  • The Trump campaign’s lead lawyers held a Thursday press conference (in a small, packed room, for the benefit of coronavirus) that was unhinged even by Trump-campaign standards. The members of Trump’s “elite strike-force team” acknowledged their goal was to “overturn the election,” used antisemitic dog whistles, made some more baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, and suggested that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, had somehow rigged the 2020 election. Giuliani provided matching visual chaos by sweating out his own hair dye. The Trump coup: Come for the berserk stream of lies, stay for the glamor.
  • However ineffective Trump’s lies prove for keeping him in power, they’ve been potent enough to stoke unrest and put election officials in danger. Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that she and her staff have been receiving “ongoing and escalating” violent threats, a problem exacerbated by Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) who has refused to accept the election results. The longer GOP officials play into Trump’s fantasy or stand silently by, the more volatile his most extreme supporters will become.

Donald Trump is actively and personally attempting to overturn the results of an election he lost by nearly six million votes, and the fact that it won’t work this time is limited comfort. Republicans at every level have shown a willingness—or even eagerness—to destroy democracy when they have no chance of success; how many of them would behave better in the coming years if overturning a future election required stealing only one state?

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The Trump administration shut down a deal to pay for mental health care for the migrant families that it traumatized at the border. In October 2019, the Justice Department strongly supported an $8 million settlement deal to provide mental-health screenings and counseling to thousands of migrant families that had been separated by the Trump administration. The Office of White House Counsel, reportedly at the direction of Stephen Miller, pulled the plug. The judge in the case ultimately ordered the government to pay for mental-health services, but Miller's torching of the deal created a six-month delay, cost taxpayers $6 million, and prevented nonprofit services from reaching everyone affected—some of the families were deported in the meantime.

Managers at a Tyson pork plant in Iowa ran a betting pool on how many employees would get coronavirus, according to a lawsuit filed by the son of a meatpacking worker who died in April. The betting pool was “cash buy-in, winner take all.” The plant became a virus hotspot in the spring, after the plant’s leadership denied that there was an outbreak, refused to close the facility, and directed workers to continue working even while exhibiting symptoms. Tyson has suspended the alleged members of the betting pool without pay. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to resume coronavirus-stimulus negotiations today, so it’s a good time to reiterate that his ghoulish stimulus priority has been to provide companies with liability protections against this kind of lawsuit, and Democrats have been right to make that provision a non-starter.

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AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine candidate appears to produce a strong immune response in older adults. 

Joe Biden discussed climate change in 12 of his first 14 phone calls with world leaders, in a signal that our next president just might give a damn. 

General Motors announced that imminent new battery technology will make its electric cars the same price as gas-powered cars within five years.

Georgia officials have completed their hand recount of all presidential ballots, and Joe Biden still won. Georgia will certify its election results on Friday. 

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