AMY GOODMAN: This is often Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
For the second day during a row, President Trump refused to plan to accept the results of the upcoming election if his rival Joe Biden wins. Trump was asked about the election as he left the White House to campaign in North Carolina.
REPORTER: Mr. President, are the election results only legitimate if you win?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So, we’ve to be very careful with the ballots. The ballots, that’s an entire big scam. …. we would like to form sure the election is honest, and I’m unsure that it is often. I don’t — I don’t know that it is often with this whole situation — unsolicited ballots. They’re unsolicited, millions being sent to everybody. And we’ll see.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump made an identical comment Wednesday when questioned at a White House press briefing.
BRIAN KAREM: Will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, we’re getting to need to see what happens. you recognize that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. and therefore the ballots are a disaster. And — and —
BRIAN KAREM: I understand that. But people are rioting.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I do know. I know.
BRIAN KAREM: does one plan to ensure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: we would like to — we would like to possess — get obviate the ballots, and you’ll have a really — we’ll have a really peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. you recognize it. And you recognize who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats realize it better than anybody else.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s remarks are criticized by both Democrats and Republicans. On Thursday, Senate legislator Mitch McConnell tweeted, “There are going to be an orderly transition even as there have been every four years since 1792,” unquote. But at an equivalent time, McConnell is vowing to rapidly confirm Trump’s soon-to-be-announced nominee to exchange Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Earlier in the week, Trump admitted he wants the Senate to rapidly confirm his nominee because the election could find yourself before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic magazine has revealed Republican Party officials are watching multiple ways to subvert the election process to make sure Trump stays in power. One option would be to possess Republican-led state legislatures to claim the results of the election to be fraudulent, then choose a slate of Republican electors to choose the body no matter the result of the particular vote.
We’re joined immediately by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman, the staff writer at The Atlantic. His new piece is headlined “The Election that would Break America.” Barton Gellman is that the author of several books, including Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and therefore the American Surveillance State.
Barton, thanks such a lot for joining us on Democracy Now! are you able to layout intimately — no soundbites, please — exactly what you found are the plans not only being talked about, but are literally being laid out everywhere the country, and also what, then, surprised you most?
BARTON GELLMAN: The president is running a campaign that’s premised on the thought that he might not win or won’t win if all the votes are counted, and he’s trying to find insurance policies. It begins with traditional Republican efforts to suppress the vote on polling day and extends to the present long campaign he’s been running against mail-in ballots as how of delegitimating them and laying the groundwork for a post-election or mid-count challenge that might be intended to prevent the count, to lock in whatever results there are on election night, when, due to the way he has divided the vote along partisan lines, there’ll be more Republicans, he forecasts, voting face to face on polling day and more Democrats voting by mail, with counts which will continue on past election night. And so, delegitimating the mail-in vote may be a way of stopping the overtime count that everybody is expecting now because we’re not getting to have an election night, we’re getting to have an election week, perhaps, or longer, during which the provisional ballots and therefore the mail-in ballots, the absentee ballots, are going to be counted.
Now, among the items that some Trump people are talking about maybe a maneuver that might start by saying that the count has been poisoned by fraud, has been rigged, is hopelessly mired in unacceptable conduct, and, therefore, that the count can’t be relied upon. and that we are all familiar with the thought that electoral votes are distributed supported the way the favored vote goes during a given state. If somebody gets the foremost votes in my state, then that candidate gets that state’s electoral votes. The Constitution doesn’t actually guarantee that result. That’s a choice that’s made by each state because the facility to appoint electors is given within the Constitution to state legislatures. the thought circulating within the Trump campaign and among a number of its allies is that under some circumstances they might ask state legislatures to require back that power and easily appoint Trump electors no matter the vote count within the state.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what loyal electors are, Barton.
BARTON GELLMAN: Well, electors are pledged to at least one candidate or the opposite. Which electors are appointed depends usually on the result of the election. once I say “usually,” I mean for the past 150, 175 years. But in theory, and counting on state law and everyone sort of other complexities, the Republican legislature of a state like Pennsylvania could prefer to simply appoint electors who are pledged already to Trump, supported their assessment that the vote count therein state is fraudulent or marred by fraud, and thus that they’re getting to protect the desire of the people by appointing Trump electors.
In the 2000 recount between Bush and Gore, the Republicans actually started down this road. The recount was still under litigation and therefore the date for the body vote was approaching in December when the Republican House in Florida passed a resolution to appoint electors in Bush’s name, and therefore the Senate was getting to vote on an equivalent day that Gore conceded the election.
And since I discussed concession, it’s the premise of my article — and that i attempt to explain why — that Trump’s strategy isn’t to concede, that he may win, he may lose, but under no circumstances will he concede this election. That’s an enormous problem because we don’t even have a mechanism for forcing a candidate to concede. And concession is that the way we’ve ended elections. there’s no grand umpire who has jurisdiction over the entire election, who can blow a whistle and say, “The election is over. You won. You lost,” and make that stick. we’ve relied instead on the loser to simply accept reality when the time comes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you mention in your article that this may be the primary election in 40 years to require place without a federal judge requiring the Republican National Committee to hunt approval beforehand for any ballot security operations at the polls. Why is that this oversight so crucial, Barton?
BARTON GELLMAN: Well, let me just provide a back story that helps explain that. within the 1981 gubernatorial election in New Jersey, the Republican National Committee organized what it called a Ballot Security Task Force — that was the euphemism — and it composed of tons of off-duty enforcement officers, sheriffs then forth, wearing guns, talking into radios, wearing ballot security armbands, who visited polling places in neighborhoods, predominantly people of color, in Trenton and Newark, and, just bluntly, to suppress the vote. They challenged people’s credentials. They gave stern warnings against — about penalties for unlawful voting. They, generally speaking, intimidated the voters and a few poll workers, barging into closed areas, giving instructions to poll workers, in some cases physically preventing poll workers from assisting voters who needed help physically filling out their ballots, which may be a normal function.
And the Democratic National Committee sued and, after introducing evidence, quickly won a decree, during which the judge forbade an entire long list of intimidation techniques and required that the RNC would submit any plans it had for polling day operations to the judge for prior approval. which lasted almost 40 years.
The RNC persuaded the judge in 2018 to lift this decree, to lift the preclearance order, because there had been no recent violations by the RNC of the decree. So, it had been — the logic was that this decree is not any longer needed because it worked. therefore the RNC is now liberal to choose its own sorts of polling day operations, its own ballot security. And we’ll need to see what happens. But the Trump campaign and therefore the Republicans are recruiting what they’re calling an “Army for Trump” of 15,000 approximately volunteers who will monitor the safety of the polls, which means going into Democratic areas and searching for suspicious people.