The 45th President of the U.S. Chapter VI November 2020 – February 2021

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The 45th President of the U.S. Chapters I-V
The Republicans 2020 – 2021

Niall Stanage: Trump is tainted but not done
[The Trump base] hasn’t gone away — and the former president is its standard-bearer for as long as he wants to be.
(The Hill) The taint that now hangs over Trump will never be erased. He is the only president to have been impeached twice and the subject of the most bipartisan vote ever to convict.
Trump’s other legal troubles may be beginning rather than ending. Prosecutors are eying his business dealings as well as his efforts to get officials in Georgia to overturn the state’s results.
For all the abhorrence he sparks in his critics, he also speaks to parts of conservative America that other Republicans cannot reach. He can still channel the id of his base like no one else.
… Trump could also focus on exerting his influence rather than on running for office himself. His new political action committee began the year with a bank account of more than $30 million. The cash can’t be used directly to fund a Trump campaign, but it could help primary candidates running in his image.
A whole right-wing media ecosystem has always been in his thrall and remains so. Regular appearances there, as well as other possibilities such as a book deal, could see him back in the public eye.

13 February
Trump Celebrates His Acquittal, Says The Impeachment Was Part Of A ‘Witch Hunt’
(NPR) “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” the statement read. “In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” Trump said.

Senate Acquits Trump With 7 Republicans Joining All 50 Democrats in Voting ‘Guilty’

(New York) While the outcome was never in doubt, it was a bit surprising that seven Republicans (Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey) joined all 50 Democrats in voting “guilty.”
After the trial ended, Chuck Schumer took the floor and referred to Trump’s senatorial defenders as having “chosen Trump over America.” Then Mitch McConnell somewhat surprisingly charged Trump of “dereliction of duty,” and of being “morally responsible” for the Capitol riot, and spoke heatedly of Trump’s longstanding effort to overturn an election he had clearly lost, showing a willingness to “torch our institutions on the way out.” McConnell left open the possibility (he called it a “close question”) that conviction of Trump would have been warranted absent the threshold constitutional objection to the whole trial, and even hinted criminal prosecution of the former president for what he’s done.

Heather Cox Richardson February 13, 2021
…the issue of Trump’s guilt on January 6 will play out in a courtroom, where there are actual rules about telling the truth. Trump’s own lawyers suggested he should answer for his actions in a court of law, and in a fiery speech after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set up the same idea. But even if that does not happen, the Capitol rioters will be in court, keeping in front of Americans both the horrific events of January 6 and their contention that they showed up to fight because their president asked them to.

David Frum: It’ll Do – Impeachment did not prevail, but Trump still lost.
You say that you are disappointed? That a mere rebuke was not enough? That justice was not done? It wasn’t. But now see the world from the other side, through the eyes of those who defend Trump or even want him to run again. Their hope was to dismiss this impeachment as partisan, as founded on fake evidence, as hypocritical and anti-constitutional—to present this verdict as an act of oppression by one half of the country against the other. That hope was banished today.
Things will get worse for the 45th president. The 57–43 margin in the Senate flashes a green light to federal and state prosecutors that, if they find evidence of crimes, proceeding with legal action against Trump would be politically safe.

Amy Davidson Sorkin: How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him.

As Impeachment Nears End, Federal Inquiry Looms as Reminder of Trump’s Role in Riot
The investigation is in its beginning stages, and it may ultimately provide a clear portrait of the former president’s part in the Capitol attack.
(NYT) While the Justice Department officials examining the rash of crimes committed during the riot have signaled that they do not plan to make Mr. Trump a focus of the investigation, the volumes of evidence they are compiling may eventually give a clearer — and possibly more damning — picture of his role in the attack.
Case files in the investigation have offered signs that many of the rioters believed, as impeachment managers have said, that they were answering Mr. Trump’s call on Jan. 6. The inquiry has also offered evidence that some pro-Trump extremist groups, concerned about fraud in the election, may have conspired together to plan the insurrection.

Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco
The impeachment managers in Donald Trump’s trial spent Friday night and Saturday morning wrestling with the question themselves.
(Politico) When Senate Democrats stepped onto the floor on Saturday morning, they had no idea the House impeachment managers were about to drop a political grenade in their laps.
But after a brief schism that threatened to throw Donald Trump’s trial into chaos, House and Senate Democrats quickly agreed to put the pin back in. House Democratic managers and the former president’s lawyers ducked the issue of witnesses nearly as soon as it was raised, and Senate Democrats approved the turnaround.
The Senate ultimately devised a fast solution to help the chamber avoid trekking down a long path of depositions that could drag the trial into March. Instead of calling witnesses, a statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) that reiterated her month-old account of a call between the former president and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 6 was entered into the record. Trump’s team declined to dispute it. And amazingly, both sides decided to move on. And the trial headed toward a close.

8-12 February
Heather Cox Richardson February 12, 2021 (Friday)
The House impeachment managers had put together a damning presentation over the past two days, leaving Trump’s lawyers with the goal simply of providing enough cover for Republican senators to vote to acquit. They had 16 hours to present their case.
They took less than four.
Led by a new spokesman, Michael van der Veen, a former personal injury lawyer from Philadelphia, Trump’s lawyers brought to the floor of the Senate the same tactics the former president used for his four years in office. Rather than engaging in substantive discussion of the merits of the case—which, in fairness, ran pretty heavily against them—they delivered sound bites for right-wing media. They lied about facts, insisted that Trump’s language leading to the riot was the same sort of rhetoric all politicians use, insulted and talked back to the senators, and claimed Trump was the victim of years of witch hunts by Democrats who hate him.
At the end of the day, it was clear a number of Republican senators were troubled by the lawyers’ refusal to engage with the facts of the case or with the House managers’ argument, but it seemed as if Trump’s lawyers had provided enough cover for them to be able to vote to acquit.

Herrera Beutler Says McCarthy Told Her Trump Sided with Capitol Mob
(NYT) On the eve of a verdict in Donald J. Trump’s Senate trial, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him confirmed on Friday night that the top House Republican, Representative Kevin McCarthy, told her that the former president had sided with the mob during a phone call as the Jan. 6 Capitol attack unfolded.
In a statement on Friday night, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, recounted a phone call relayed to her by Mr. McCarthy of California, the minority leader, in which Mr. Trump was said to have sided with the rioters, telling the top House Republican that members of the mob who had stormed the Capitol were “more upset about the election than you are.”
Prosecutors Rest Their Case, Warning Trump ‘Can Do This Again’ if He Is Not Convicted
House managers used the words and video of the rioters at the Capitol to argue that the attack was carried out at the behest of former President Donald J. Trump. The Senate will reconvene at noon on Friday.

Graphic Video at Impeachment Trial Shows Riot and Trump’s Comments
The gut-wrenching video aired by Democratic impeachment managers on Tuesday set the tone of former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial by reminding senators — now jurors, then the quarry of a mob — of the raw violence that pervaded the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Most legislative events, even impeachments, have a predictable cadence. But the video, edited by House Democrats to present the attack on the Capitol on a visual timeline coinciding with Mr. Trump’s statements and tweets, was one of the rare moments, common in cinema but rare on C-SPAN, that took the chamber by surprise.

9 February was also the anniversary of the day when, in 1825, the Presidential election was decided in the House in favour of John Quincy Adams, who won fewer votes than Andrew Jackson in the popular election.

Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
For the Defense: Twisted Facts and Other Staples of the Trump Playbook
The lawyers representing the former president in his impeachment trial are the latest in a rotating cast that has always had trouble satisfying a mercurial and headstrong client.
Senate votes to proceed with trial, rejecting Trump argument that it is unconstitutional
(WaPo) Most Republicans stood with Trump and his legal team, which contended the Senate cannot convict a person no longer in office. The House impeachment managers, in pressing for the trial to proceed, said Trump had a role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and should be held accountable. Opening arguments in the trial were set to begin Wednesday.
In self-imposed exile, Trump watches with unhappiness as second impeachment trial unfolds
But Trump’s seeming quietude, said one confidant who recently spoke with the former president, is less the result of newfound discipline and more a consequence of Twitter’s decision to ban Trump, who no longer has an instant public forum to blast out his latest grievances.
Meandering Performance by Defense Lawyers Enrages Trump
(NYT) The former president was particularly angry at Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of his lawyers, for acknowledging the effectiveness of the House Democrats’ presentation.
In the lead-up to the trial this week, Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers said he seemed to be taking his second impeachment more or less in stride, preoccupied with his golf game and his struggling business, and trying to ignore what was happening in Washington.
But the fact that he struggled to retain a full team of lawyers for the trial was a source of concern to some of his aides. None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump returned for the second round. And most of the team he initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.
As Trump’s impeachment trial begins, his defense is a mess
Trump’s defense has rested on arguments that do little to address his culpability for allegedly inciting the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. It has argued that the proceedings themselves are unconstitutional and that Trump has a right to free speech — without focusing much on the established limits on such speech, which include incitement.
While making their constitutionality argument, for instance, Trump’s attorneys repeatedly cite constitutional law professor Brian Kalt’s analysis — no fewer than 15 times, in fact. They note that Kalt has cited the words of founders such as Alexander Hamilton, saying that “Hamilton seemed to believe that removal was a required component of the impeachment penalty, which suggests that he viewed late impeachment as impossible.” As Kalt has noted, though, the 2001 analysis they cite actually argued in favor of an impeachment and trial after an official was out of office. Kalt merely cited the evidence for both sides and then disputed arguments such as the one above.

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Senate Impeachment Trial
(NPR) Former President Donald Trump made history when he became the first president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Roughly a year ago, the Senate acquitted Trump on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction.
This time he faces one article approved by the House arguing he incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the day that Congress was required by the Constitution to count and certify the electoral votes in the 2020 election.
Trump’s lawyers say he was immediately ‘horrified’ by the Capitol attack. Here’s what his allies and aides said really happened that day.
(WaPo) The assertion that Trump acted swiftly and out of genuine horror as his supporters ransacked the Capitol is largely a side note to his lawyers’ defense. In their 78-page brief, they focused on two legal arguments: that the Constitution does not allow for the conviction of an impeached former officeholder and that Trump’s speech to the crowd on Jan. 6 was political rhetoric protected by the First Amendment.
In a test vote earlier this month, the majority of Republican senators indicated that they will be receptive to a defense based on the question of whether the proceedings are constitutional.
Trump’s second impeachment trial started on Tuesday, after the Senate leaders clinched an agreement on the parameters and schedule, with expectations for a swift trial lasting around a week. Under the current timeline, the Senate could vote on whether to convict Trump of the House’s charge as early as the beginning of next week.
In her February 7 Letter, Heather Cox Richardson writes:
“Pundits are saying that the Senate will vote to acquit former president Donald Trump at the end of his second impeachment trial, set to start on Tuesday. I’m not so sure.” And justifies her position.

7 February
Amy Davidson Sorkin: What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial
The Republican Party isn’t ready to walk away from the former President, but the senators know how close the country came to catastrophe.
As President, Donald Trump often seemed surprised to discover what was and was not constitutional. His lawyers now seem intent on perpetuating that confusion at his impeachment trial. Last week, one of them, David Schoen, said in an interview with Fox News that “fair-minded people” don’t support using impeachment to “bar someone from running for office again”—even though that is one of the two punishments for conviction that the Constitution specifies.

Heather Cox Richardson: February 2, 2021
Today, the House impeachment managers filed their trial brief for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. The charge is that he incited the insurrection attempt of January 6, 2021, in which a mob stormed the Capitol to stop the counting of the certified electoral ballots for the 2020 election.
Led by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a former professor of constitutional law, the managers laid out Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and his incitement of a violent mob to stop Congress from confirming the victory of Joseph Biden in the election.
Conservative groups go MIA on Trump’s impeachment
They were vocal in backing him the first go around, but they’re sitting on the sidelines now. Acquittal, after all, seems guaranteed.
(Politico) While Trump wants to use his trial to decry voter fraud and plead for election reforms, the few aides who still staff him say their best recourse is to simply argue what the vast majority of Senate Republicans are on record saying: that the impeachment itself is unconstitutional.

31 January
Trump’s impeachment defense team leaves less than two weeks before trial
(CNN) A person familiar with the departures told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed in that regard.

26 January
McConnell and Most Republican Senators Vote to Dismiss Trump’s Impeachment
Ed Kilgore
(New York) In a development whose timing, but not its outcome, was a surprise, all but five Republican senators have voted to dismiss as unconstitutional the article of impeachment against Donald Trump that was passed by the House on January 13. The Senate trial is scheduled to begin in two weeks.
The trial will go on as planned, but don’t be surprised if it’s abbreviated with the outcome so little in doubt and Democrats anxious to get on with the work of the Biden administration.
Rand Paul raised a point of order before he and his colleagues were sworn in for the trial, contending it is unconstitutional to impeach and try a president who has already left office (a position that some, but by no means all, constitutional experts share). It’s a claim that is extremely convenient for Republicans, particularly those who don’t want to defend Trump’s conduct in inciting the Capitol riot that led to his impeachment but also don’t want to hold him accountable for it.

20 – 22 January
Former president, private citizen and, perhaps, criminal defendant:
Donald Trump’s new reality
George T. Conway III, a Post contributing columnist, is a lawyer and a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC.
(WaPo opinion) From the earliest days of his administration, it became painfully apparent that in all matters — including affairs of state — Trump’s personal well-being took top priority. Four years and two impeachments later, he has managed to avoid the full consequences of his conduct.
But now that run of legal good fortune may end. Trump departed the White House a possible — many would say probable, provable — criminal, one who has left a sordid trail of potential and actual misconduct that remains to be fully investigated.
As Trump himself well understands. Long-standing Justice Department opinions hold that presidents can’t be prosecuted while they are in office. Given that any such protection was temporary, some of Trump’s advisers believed that one reason he decided to seek reelection was to avoid criminal exposure. Indeed, in the weeks leading up to November’s election, Trump reportedly confessed to advisers that he was worried about being prosecuted.
Private citizen Trump stands stripped of the legal and practical protections against prosecution that he enjoyed during his tenure: constitutional immunity; a protective attorney general; a special counsel operating under self-imposed and external constraints; and the ability to invoke the presidency in litigation, even meritless litigation, to delay state prosecutors’ investigations. No longer will he be able to claim interference with his public duties, or to remove those who might allow damaging investigations to proceed.
To deal with Trump, and to do so fairly, Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland, once confirmed, will need to use the mechanism of a special counsel.

Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General
Jeffrey Clark, who led the Justice Department’s civil division, had been working with President Donald Trump to devise ways to cast doubt on the election results.
The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

21 February
From Commander in Chief to Interloper in Palm Beach
If former President Donald J. Trump intends to live in South Florida full time, he is likely to encounter some friction. (Though his fans are thrilled.)
(NYT) He signed an agreement with Palm Beach in 1993 that said Mar-a-Lago, a private social club, could not be used as a full-time residence, and some neighbors have pressed Palm Beach officials to enforce the pact. Local reporters spotted moving trucks outside of Mar-a-Lago earlier in the week.
Grifter to the end: Trump extended Secret Service protection to his adult children as he left office
According to three people briefed on the plan, Trump issued a directive to extend post-presidency Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses, who were not automatically entitled to receive it.
Trump also directed that three key aides leaving government continue to receive the protection for six months: former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, two people familiar with the arrangement said.
Under federal law, Trump, his wife, Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son are the only members of his immediate family entitled to Secret Service protection after they leave office. The couple will receive it for their lifetimes, and Barron is entitled to protection until he turns 16.
Watch live: Trump departs DC ahead of Biden inauguration

Trump departs Washington a pariah as his era in power ends

(CNN) Donald Trump’s era in Washington is over.
The all-consuming, camera-hungry, truth-starved era that fixated the nation and exposed its darkest recesses officially concludes at noon Wednesday. The President, addled and mostly friendless, will end his time in the capital a few hours early to spare himself the humiliation of watching his successor be sworn in.
He departs a city under militarized fortification meant to prevent a repeat of the riot he incited earlier this month. He leaves office with more than 400,000 Americans dead from a virus he chose to downplay or ignore.
Obituary for a Failed Presidency
One final dispatch from Trump’s Washington.
By Susan B. Glasser
In the end, Trump was everything his haters feared—a chaos candidate, in the prescient words of one of his 2016 rivals, who became a chaos President. An American demagogue, he embraced division and racial discord, railed against a “deep state” within his own government, praised autocrats and attacked allies, politicized the administration of justice, monetized the Presidency for himself and his children, and presided over a tumultuous, turnover-ridden Administration via impulsive tweets. He leaves office, Gallup reported this week, with the lowest average approval ratings in the history of the modern Presidency.

16 January
Pentagon confirms it will not hold traditional farewell ceremony for Trump as president vies for military-style parade: reports
(AlterNet) Trump also apparently wants his departure to involve “a military-style sendoff and a crowd of supporters” at either the White House, the Joint Base Andrews or his final destination, the Palm Beach International Airport, according to CNN.
The Pentagon has said a traditional farewell isn’t going to happen.

On Biden’s Inauguration Day, Trump Will See Himself Out

Trump to flee Washington and seek rehabilitation in a MAGA oasis: Florida
(WaPo) In Florida — one of only two top battleground states Trump won in November — Trump will be living in a veritable MAGA oasis, to use the acronym for his “Make American Great Again” campaign slogan. South Florida has fast become a hub of right-wing power brokers and media characters, and some of Trump’s adult children are making plans to move to the area.

13 January
The president as pariah: Trump faces a torrent of retribution over his role in the U.S. Capitol siege
(WaPo) He has been banned on social media, shunned by foreign leaders, impeached (again) in the House, threatened with censure by Republicans, deserted by Cabinet members, turned on by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), canceled by his hometown of New York City, dropped by the PGA golf tour and snubbed by New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.
And that’s just in the past few days for President Trump, who after ruling Washington for nearly four years through a mix of bullying, intimidation, patronage and a sense that his willingness to spread falsehoods and misinformation would have no consequences is suddenly facing a torrent of retribution from those who long excused his behavior or were too scared or powerless to confront it.

‘Reject sedition’: House impeaches Trump in historic second rebuke
The House condemned Trump, the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, for “willful incitement of insurrection.”
(Politico) The House impeached President Donald Trump Wednesday for the second time — a historic, bipartisan condemnation of an outgoing president whose words fueled a deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week.
Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in a 232-197 vote supporting a single impeachment count, “incitement of insurrection” the gravest charge ever lodged against a sitting president. The process now moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that a trial won’t begin until Trump is out of office.
The result of the vote was the most bipartisan impeachment in history, as well as the most-ever votes for any single article of impeachment.

12 January
In first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the mob.
President Trump asserted that it was the impeachment charge, not the violence and ransacking of the Capitol, that was “causing tremendous anger.”
(NYT) President Trump on Tuesday showed no contrition or regret for instigating the mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened the lives of members of Congress and his vice president, saying that his remarks to a rally beforehand were “totally appropriate” and that the effort by Congress to impeach and convict him was “causing tremendous anger.”
Answering questions from reporters for the first time since the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, the president sidestepped questions about his culpability in the deadly riot that shook the nation’s long tradition of peaceful transfers of power.
“People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to visit the border wall. Instead, Mr. Trump claimed that racial justice protests over the summer were “the real problem.”

GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson dies at 87
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were President Trump’s largest donors. The couple have donated more than $525 million to federal political campaigns and committees since the 2010 cycle, per OpenSecrets.

9 January
The Case for Removing Donald Trump
Jeannie Suk Gersen
There will be time to assess President Trump’s liability for inciting the insurrection; right now the urgent issue is the danger of having him remain in office.
(The New Yorker) There is little doubt that Trump did incite a mob to attack the Capitol in order to interfere with Congress’s performance of its constitutional duty in our democracy. On Wednesday, he gathered a crowd of thousands of supporters, fomented anger at an election that he falsely said had been stolen, and urged them to “walk down to the Capitol” and “fight much harder.” He goaded, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” The Times reported that Trump was initially pleased as his supporters stormed into the Capitol and that he resisted requests to call in the National Guard to help stop them. Just after 4 P.M., when the rioters had been terrorizing the Capitol for nearly two hours, Trump posted a video in which he urged them to go home, but told them, “We love you. You’re very special.”

8 January
Trump Won’t Attend Inauguration; Congress Pushes Ahead With Capitol Ceremony
(NPR) After weeks of falsely claiming that he had won the November election, Trump had not been expected to attend Biden’s swearing-in.
Trump’s tweet comes as the congressional committee that plans the ceremony announced that the swearing-in will take place on the Capitol’s West Front as planned. … In a statement, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies said that Wednesday “was a sad and solemn day for our country. The outrageous attack on the Capitol, however, will not stop us from affirming to Americans — and the world — that our democracy endures. Our committee’s bipartisan, bicameral membership remains committed to working with our many partners to execute ceremonies that are safe and showcase our determined democracy.”

7 January
Calls intensify to remove Trump from office even as he acknowledges ‘a new administration’
President Trump promised a smooth transition in a video message posted on Twitter Thursday night, saying that his supporters had pursued post-election challenges in good faith, but “now tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”
Reading off a script in a flat voice, Trump claimed he immediately deployed the National Guard to help secure the building and expel the intruders. Other officials have disputed that account. Trump also claimed his attempts to overturn the election results were simply his efforts to “ensure the integrity of the vote.”
Over the course of the day, a growing chorus of officials — including current Cabinet secretaries and Trump allies — strongly chastised the president, who stayed out of sight until his evening message, in which he denounced the mob attack, adding “to those who broke the law, you will pay.”

6 January
This is Trump’s legacy
David Von Drehle
(WaPo) Some presidents give a farewell address, and a few of those have been quite good. Trump chose a farewell riot. He summoned an angry crowd to Washington using his damnable Twitter account. He stoked them to believe that his loyal vice president had the power and the will to reverse the election results. And when Vice President Pence at last found the frontier of his conscience — the line beyond which even his ambition and his debasement would not let him go — there stood America’s self-proclaimed law-and-order president, inciting the crowd to march on the Capitol to stop Pence from doing his constitutionally mandated duty.

5 January
Donald Trump’s Alarming Call to Battle in Georgia
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
At a rally on Monday night, in Dalton, Georgia, Donald Trump appeared to be past caring whether anyone listening heard his remarks as a call to violence.
In Trump’s view, everyone has a task to perform in the great effort of not letting the legitimate winner of the election, Joe Biden, take office. The runoff may be on Tuesday, but, at the rally, the key date that Trump mentioned was Wednesday, January 6th, when both houses of Congress, meeting in a joint session, will receive the Electoral College votes. … More than a hundred Republican House members have said that they will object to the tally. Given that the results have been certified by each state, after the Trump campaign got many days in court, this is nothing other than an effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans.
White House denies reports Trump will be in Scotland during inauguration, after Scottish leader warns golf is not essential travel
The speculation began with curious activity by U.S. military aircraft reported circling President Trump’s Turnberry golf resort in western Scotland in November.
Then the Sunday Post in Scotland reported that Glasgow Prestwick Airport “has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft, that is occasionally used by Trump, on January 19.”
On Tuesday, the leader of Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon … warned Trump he might be breaking the law if he came: “We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose.”

3-4 January
Trump, in Taped Call, Pressured Georgia Official to ‘Find’ Votes to Overturn Election
The president vaguely warned of a “criminal offense” as he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the call, according to an audio recording.
(NYT) Mr. Trump, who has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., told Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, that he should recalculate the vote count so Mr. Trump, not Mr. Biden, would end up winning the state’s 16 electoral votes.
Ruth Marcus: An alarmingly large cadre of co-conspirators is helping Trump’s assault on democracy
Donald Trump began his presidency trying to obstruct justice. He’s ending it trying to obstruct democracy, and with an alarmingly large cadre of co-conspirators.
Some of this attempted obstruction is being conducted, as is so often the case with Trump, in plain sight; Trump’s anti-democratic conduct is so flagrant and so repeated that we become inured to how abnormal and unacceptable it is. Thus he has claimed massive fraud without basis, unleashed a barrage of litigation lacking the facts and the law to back him up, and riled up his believers to subscribe to the mass delusion that the election was stolen from him.
Behind the scenes, things are even worse, with the craziest of Trump’s crazy advisers pushing the president to pursue unimaginable possibilities such as declaring martial law or invoking the Insurrection Act to unleash the military to quell violence that he himself has sought to stir up.

30 December
Trump’s parting gift to dictators solidifies his authoritarian legacy
(WaPo) Trump spent his term openly endorsing dictators without any caveats. Past presidents were two-faced when it came to their foreign policies toward dictators. They sold weapons to autocratic allies, but they did so with public chastisement of the regime and private pressure to reduce human rights abuses. That chastisement and pressure weren’t close to enough, but they were significantly better than nothing. They sent an important signal to the rest of the world that the United States doesn’t unequivocally celebrate regimes that assassinate journalists, behead dissidents or make enemies “disappear” with a one-way ticket to a torture chamber. As a result, murderous despots across the globe at least worried that human rights abuses could result in consequences. Not so under Trump.
Second, and even more disturbing, there is a credible reason to believe that these arms sales could be motivated, not by U.S. security interests, but by Trump’s financial interests once he leaves office.

22-23 December
A President Unhappy, Unleashed and Unpredictable
President Trump remains the most powerful man in the world, but powerless to achieve what he most wants: to avoid leaving office as a loser.
By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt
Trump Demands Changes to Coronavirus Relief Bill, Calling It a ‘Disgrace’
The president sought bigger checks for Americans and a bill that dealt more specifically with pandemic relief.
Trump’s final month might make the past four years seem calm
(WaPo Editorial Board) WHILE AMERICANS prepare to celebrate the holiday season, President Trump and his hardcore supporters are contemplating a turbulent final month that could make the rest of his chaotic presidency look placid, … Government officials and even some presidential aides are reportedly bracing for what might come next. The possibilities include strange orders to the armed forces, mass firings in key national security departments, more bizarre pardons, demands to prosecute Trump political enemies or the appointment of one or several special counsels to force the Justice Department to investigate bogus claims of election irregularities and other Trump obsessions.

20 December
Trump Is Losing His Mind
The president is discussing martial law in the Oval Office, as his grip on reality falters.
The latest manifestation of this is a report in The New York Times that the president is weighing appointing the conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who for a time worked on his legal team, to be special counsel to investigate imaginary claims of voter fraud.
As if that were not enough, we also learned that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was pardoned by the president after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, attended the Friday meeting. Earlier in the week, Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, floated the idea (which he had promoted before) that the president impose martial law and deploy the military to “rerun” the election in several closely contested states that voted against Trump. It appears that Flynn wants to turn them into literal battleground states.
In 30 days, Donald Trump will leave the presidency, with his efforts to mount a coup having failed. The encouraging news is that it never really had a chance of succeeding. Our institutions, especially the courts, will have passed a stress test, not the most difficult ever but difficult enough, and unlike any in our history. Some local officials exhibited profiles in courage, doing the right thing in the face of threats and pressure from their party. And a preponderance of the American public, having lived through the past four years, deserves credit for canceling this presidential freak show rather than renewing it. The “exhausted majority” wasn’t too exhausted to get out and vote, even in a pandemic.
David Frum: How Long Can This Continue?
Trump is turning the Republican Party against democracy.
On Friday, December 18, the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff formally disavowed any intention of participating in a military coup: “There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election.”
That’s a fine statement, in line with the long-standing traditions of the U.S. military. It’s alarming, though, that anybody thought it necessary at all.

18 December
Trump’s New Brand Is Loser
His post-election tantrum is forcing conservatives to affirm, again and again, that he lost the election fair and square.
By Susan B. Glasser
Whatever the other reasons are for his ongoing post-election temper tantrum, it couldn’t be more clear that Trump is also motivated by the simple psychological fact that he really, really hates being called a “loser.” It’s one of his favorite insults, and a label he would do anything to avoid having affixed to his own name.
… In pushing back so insistently and filing so many baseless lawsuits, Trump has forced dozens of conservatives at every level of American society to attest to the integrity of the vote—and highlight Trump’s loss.

9 December
Will Trump be an Inauguration Day no-show?
By Jim Bendat, Opinion Contributor
(The Hill) President Trump may be planning to draw attention away from President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20 by holding a made-for-television event of his own. Reports indicate that he might board Air Force One that morning, fly to Florida, then hold a MAGA-type rally to announce his plan to run for president again in 2024.
…in 1869, President Andrew Johnson stayed at the White House during Ulysses S. Grant’s ceremony, choosing instead to quietly sign a few bills for the final time as president. That is the last time an outgoing president did not participate at all in the inauguration of his successor. So, if Trump refuses to adhere to Inauguration Day traditions next month, his decision would not be as unique as he and his supporters might think. If he fails to make an appearance at Biden’s inauguration, Trump would merely be following the sad example set by another impeached president more than 150 years ago.

28 November

A long read that summarizes almost everything written elsewhere
“This account of one of the final chapters in Trump’s presidency is based on interviews with 32 senior administration officials, campaign aides and other advisers to the president, as well as other key figures in his legal fight, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details about private discussions and to candidly assess the situation.”
20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election
With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.
(WaPo) The 20 days between the election on Nov. 3 and the greenlighting of Biden’s transition exemplified some of the hallmarks of life in Trump’s White House: a government paralyzed by the president’s fragile emotional state; advisers nourishing his fables; expletive-laden feuds between factions of aides and advisers; and a pernicious blurring of truth and fantasy.

22 November
What Trump faces on Jan. 20, 2021
As soon as he becomes a private citizen, Trump will be stripped of the legal armor that has protected him from pending cases both civil and criminal.
(NBC) On Jan. 20, 2021, around noon, Joe Biden will take the oath of office as president and Donald Trump will lose both his job and one of its most important perks.
Trump has faced investigations involving his campaign, his business and his personal behavior since he took the oath of office himself four years ago. As soon as he becomes a private citizen, however, he will be stripped of the legal armor that has protected him from a host of pending court cases both civil and criminal.
He will no longer be able to argue in court that his position as the nation’s chief executive makes him immune to prosecution or protects him from turning over documents and other evidence. He will also lose the help of the Justice Department in making those arguments.

20 November
Trump undercuts American democracy as he clings to power
(CNN) President Donald Trump is trying to steal a free and fair election that he lost by a wide margin to President-elect Joe Biden by tearing at the most basic principle of American democracy: He’s trying to throw out hundreds of thousands of votes.
Many of Trump and Giuliani’s maneuvers seem so desperate and outlandish that they are hard to take seriously. But constitutional experts are warning that the President is already doing irreparable harm to the nation.
“The problem is, he’s speaking for the President of the United States,” veteran Republican elections lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

14 November
Republican leaders in 4 key U.S. states quash Trump bid on switching electors
(CBC) Republican leaders in four critical states won by U.S. president-elect Joe Biden say they won’t participate in a legally dubious scheme to flip their state’s electors to vote for President Donald Trump. Their comments effectively shut down a half-baked plot some Republicans floated as a last chance to keep Trump in the White House.
State Republican lawmakers in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate’s victory. Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.
Heads roll as Trump launches post-election purge
(The Hill) Rumors are swirling around whether CIA Director Gina Haspel might be next, as the president’s allies accuse her of obstructing efforts to declassify top-secret materials they say would expose wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.
A shake-up is underway at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cyber division, where top officials have disputed Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats fraudulently stole the election from him.
The president has installed loyalists at agencies responsible for overseeing the government’s environmental and energy regulations, and there is speculation that he could clean house at the FBI or Health and Human Services.
Thousands rally behind Trump, believing he won race he lost
Trump loyalists converged on the nation’s capital to protest the election results and falsely assert the vote was stolen.

13 November
Is This a Coup, or Just Another Trump Con?
A post-election report from Minsk-on-the-Potomac.
By Susan B. Glasser
Despite President Trump’s bluster, senior Administration officials and outside advisers say that he is not serious about defying the election results to remain in office.
(The New Yorker) Even after a full four years of watching Trump, this might have been the most unsettling, and uncertain, few days in his Presidency. On Monday, as Republicans made clear that they would not publicly challenge Trump’s election denialism, there were moments when I worried this really was the power grab we’ve spent the past few years dreading. By late in the week, it seemed more like much of the tumult of the era: terrible for democracy, but ultimately a bad case of Trumpian bluster rather than an ominous portent of tanks in the streets.
‘Never bet against me’: Trump and his allies dig in despite election defeat
The unrealistic prediction from the president, published in the Friday edition of Washington Examiner correspondent Byron York’s newsletter, represented some of Trump’s first remarks to a member of the news media since Biden was declared the winner of the election last weekend.
In his interview with York, Trump argued he was still competitive in several key swing states where Biden had already emerged victorious, saying he was “going to win Wisconsin” — a state called for Biden last Wednesday where Trump is currently trailing by more than 20,000 votes.
In Arizona, which was also called for Biden as early as last Wednesday, the race will “be down to 8,000 votes,” Trump said, even though he is behind by more than 11,000 votes there.
Prediction: Trump will resign, Pence will pardon him
By Brent Budowsky, opinion contributor
(The Hill) President Trump has been defeated for reelection. The campaign is over. The results are in, and decisive. Donald Trump has lost. His chance of succeeding in being reelected through any strategy or tactic is mathematically zero.
Second, Trump will issue pardons to his immediate family and whoever else he may feel a residual loyalty to.
Third, Trump will be told by his attorneys that he has no option to pardon himself. He probably has already been told this. The worst case for Trump, both legally and politically, is that he tries to pardon himself, creates a wave of national outrage, and his pardon of himself is overturned by the courts.
Fourth, Trump will resign from the presidency before his term officially ends, and he will be pardoned by Vice President Pence, when Pence becomes president.
A presidential pardon by Pence would not offer protection from cases originating in states, but those cases will be far more manageable if they are not sunk into a morass of federal cases that only a federal pardon can protect him from. …
The biggest issue is that Trump must obtain a pardon for federal offenses, which he can only achieve if he resigns the presidency early and is granted a pardon by Pence. Without a federal pardon, it is almost guaranteed that Trump will spend much of the coming years mired in federal cases that could pose grave legal risks for him and create problems for executing any multibillion-dollar business deal.
It’s also possible that Trump concludes his presidency with a politically disastrous end, pursuing a wrecking ball strategy of mass firings and purges that are widely seen as endangering our national security. This will create permanent anger throughout leading democracies that will sabotage his effort to monetize profits through multibillion-dollar deals with a mass audience and customer base in those nations.
In Trump’s final days, a 30-year-old aide purges officials seen as insufficiently loyal
(WaPo) Over the past week, President Trump has axed his defense secretary and other top Pentagon aides, his second-in-command at the U.S. Agency for International Development, two top Homeland Security officials, a senior climate scientist and the leader of the agency that safeguards nuclear weapons.
Engineering much of the post-election purge is Johnny McEntee, a former college quarterback who was hustled out of the White House two years ago after a security clearance check turned up a prolific habit for online gambling.
A staunch Trump loyalist, McEntee, 30, was welcomed back into the fold in February and installed as head of personnel for the Trump White House
‘Purely outlandish stuff’: Trump’s legal machine grinds to a halt
So many lawsuits have been filed in so many state and federal courts that no one has an exact number. The campaign has lost nearly all of the cases that have been decided so far.
(Politico) A Michigan lawyer for Donald Trump’s campaign filed a case in the wrong court. Lawsuits in Arizona and Nevada were dropped. A Georgia challenge was quickly rejected for lack of evidence. His Pennsylvania legal team just threw in the towel.
The president’s legal machine — the one papering swing states with lawsuits and affidavits in support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud — is slowly grinding to a halt after suffering a slew of legal defeats and setbacks.
Along the way, Trump lawyers have abruptly dropped core claims, been admonished in court for lack of candor and even been forced to admit they had no evidence of fraud, while their client inaccurately rails to the contrary on Twitter.

12 November
Small Cracks Emerge in G.O.P. Support for Trump’s Baseless Fraud Claims
President Trump retains a powerful hold on his party. But a growing number of Republican elected officials and party leaders have signaled they will indulge his conspiracy theories for only so long.
(NYT) …with Mr. Biden now leading in enough states to deliver him as many as 306 Electoral College votes — the same sum Mr. Trump won in 2016 and declared a “landslide” — and with no credible evidence of electoral malfeasance, Republicans are gingerly beginning to acknowledge the reality of Mr. Biden’s win.

11 November
Not every Trump voter is racist or misled. There’s a rational Trump voter too
(The Correspondent) Donald Trump not only didn’t lose votes, he gained votes. It seemed even more unfathomable than in 2016, where Trump’s record only included his stunts on the campaign trail. Here was an increase in the Trump vote after four years where he fomented racial discord, behaved in unstable and destabilising ways, and mismanaged a pandemic that has already claimed almost a quarter of a million lives in the US.
But Trump’s unexpected 2020 performance should never have been unexpected, whatever the polls said. It was only so because the motivations of Trump voters are still stuck in a binary, seen as either racist or misled.
Ignorance and racism alone can’t account for 71 million votes.

9 November
Trump’s firing of Esper was a slap in the face
(WaPo) A darker possibility is that Trump wants a Pentagon chief who can order the military to take steps that might help keep him in power because of an election result that he claims is fraudulent. Any such attempt would be strongly resisted by Milley and his senior commanders, as well as the civilian service chiefs. But the fact remains that until his term expires on Jan. 20, Trump remains the commander in chief, whose orders must be obeyed if they’re lawful.

8 November
Greg Sargent: How Trump can still try to burn the place down on the way out
Trump and his allies are set to spend at least another month on a “legal war” to reverse Joe Biden’s victory, Axios reports. They are reportedly discussing rallies at which Trump will highlight supposed examples of voter fraud, as well as pursuing targeted litigation in states where the outcome was decided.
…many Republicans are privately irked by it, Axios reports, noting that it will distract time and money from the two looming Senate runoffs in Georgia. What’s more, Republicans know the legal battle won’t succeed. Biden’s margins are far too large to be overcome by litigation
Wrecking ball: the damage Trump could do while still president until January
The next 11 weeks could be the most dangerous in US history, some analysts believe, with a vengeful and fearful lame duck incumbent
(The Guardian) Some of the mayhem that will follow Donald Trump losing the presidential election is already known. The US exited the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday regardless. The coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed almost a quarter of a million lives in America will worsen. Trump has hinted he will attempt to fire Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases.
But Trump’s defeat also sets the clock ticking on 11 weeks that some analysts believe could be the most dangerous period in US history, the time before the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden during which a vengeful president can wreak havoc if he chooses to do so.

7 November
Donald Trump Confronts a New Label: Loser
For the first time in a life that has been free of consequences for his failures, Trump has been held to account on the world’s largest stage.
(Politico Magazine) As he has so relentlessly in the past, Trump is fighting against being tagged with a label that he has considered toxic to his brand. He has refused to concede. “The simple fact is this election is far from over,” he said in a statement just after the election was called. He promised to fight the results in court, alleging, without evidence, that a massive electoral fraud had robbed him of victory. But his talent for recasting reality to his advantage was incapable of overcoming a statistical truth not only accepted but dictated by the majority of the nation. He lost.
In the interest of at least publishing another view, albeit a highly sycophantic one
Conrad Black: Trump may be down, but he’s certainly not out
He may appear beleaguered, but this battle is far from over
(National Post) This may be one of those American elections where the real victor will always be disputed, like 1960 and 2000 (when George W. Bush won by one electoral vote after he apparently won the state of Florida by 537 votes out of over five million cast against the incumbent vice-president Al Gore). But in this case, if Trump loses, it will not just be the result of what the president and his supporters describe as massive and brazen fraud at the polls (far exceeding the 50,000 or so missing or possibly fraudulent votes in 1960). It will be chiefly because of a campaign by almost the entire national political media and polling organizations to smear the president throughout his term.
Trump was practically certain of re-election prior to the onset of the pandemic, but the virus gave the Democrats the opportunity to climb into bed with the most vocal scientists, demand a complete shutdown of the economy for humanitarian reasons and then accuse Trump of inflicting a bone-cracking economic depression on the country because of his prior mishandling of the coronavirus….

6 November
Anne Applebaum: Trump Won’t Accept Defeat. Ever.
His forever campaign is just getting started.
(The Atlantic) Above all, though, the Biden illegitimacy myth will function as a prop for Trump’s own fragile ego. Unable to cope with the loss of the presidency, unable to accept that he was beaten, Trump will now shield himself from the reality of defeat by pretending it didn’t happen. His personal need to live in a perpetual fantasyland, a world where he is always winning, is so overpowering that he will do anything to maintain it. In his narcissistic drive to create this alternative reality, he will deepen divisions, spread paranoia, and render his supporters even more fearful of their fellow citizens and distrustful of their institutions. This is a president who never had America’s interests at heart. Do not expect loss to change him.
Trump Dumps 3 Agency Leaders In Wake Of Election
The Trump administration abruptly dumped the leaders of three agencies that oversee the nuclear weapons stockpile, electricity and natural gas regulation, and overseas aid during the past two days, drawing a rebuke from a prominent Republican senator for one of the decisions.
The White House declined comment on the firings and declined to say whether there would be more in the wake of the election.
Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose
The President has survived one impeachment, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if Joe Biden wins.
(New Yorker Magazine) Two of the investigations into Trump are being led by powerful state and city law-enforcement officials in New York. Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, are independently pursuing potential criminal charges related to Trump’s business practices before he became President. Because their jurisdictions lie outside the federal realm, any indictments or convictions resulting from their actions would be beyond the reach of a Presidential pardon. Trump’s legal expenses alone are likely to be daunting.

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