Trump Loses Congressional Vote but Will Not Lose the Republican Party
Forty-eight hours after the AP projected Joe Biden as president-elect, Donald Trump established a Save America PAC to secure his takeover of the Republican Party.
Two developments that will occur before Biden is sworn-in as our 46th president will shape our country for the next four years. First, Trump will fail to stop any of Biden’s electoral votes from being overturned when Congress counts them on Jan. 6, 2021. Second, Trump will move to dominate the future of the Republican Party more than any other person.
January 6 will mark Trump’s Waterloo
The final step in certifying that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election occurs on Jan. 6. On the date, the new Congress’s two chambers meet in a joint session to count the electoral votes. It is usually a mere formality, which occurs in every presidential election. However, the Electoral Count Act of 1877 requires only one representative and one senator to object to a state’s slate of electors, temporaily stopping the count.
The objection requires the two chambers to convene separately for a two-hour meeting to debate the objection. Each body then votes whether to accept or reject a state’s slate of electors. Every member of Congress has one vote. The members then reconvene the joint session to report whether their house accepts the electors from the state that has been challenged.
Rep. Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama has become the first member of Congress to publicly announce that he will object to the slate of presidential electors from several states, because he believes there may have been massive fraud. He would need to have just one senator join him to disrupt the joint session. Finding just one Republican senator should be easy, given the responses to a recent Washington Post survey of all 249 Republicans in the House and Senate.
The newspaper found that fewer than one-quarter of Senate Republicans acknowledge Biden’s victory, and a small number still claim Trump won the election. However, as of Dec. 5, no senators have publicly said they would join Brooks’ objections.
Challenging the certification of the electoral slates will not reverse Biden’s win. It is evident that there is not a majority of senators willing to throw out any of Biden’s electors. It would only take 3 of the 26 Republican senators who acknowledge that Biden is the president-elect, to vote with the Democrats and uphold a state’s electors.
In the House, each member gets one vote under the Electoral Count Act. The D’s have a majority, so the House will not support stripping away any state’s certified list of electors. Consequently, the Senate and House positions will be the same in accepting the contested electors as valid when both chambers reconvene.
If both bodies are in agreement, vice president Mike Pence, whom the act designates as the president of the joint session, would not be able to claim he has a “tie-breaking vote” to swing the decision to Trump. Even if there were a split between the houses, the Electoral Count Act gives no authority to the president of the session to break a tie.If Pense claimed such a right, Democrats would certainly appeal to the Supreme Court for a ruling. And, so far at least, Trump has lost almost every appeal to the courts to delay or void the Biden win.
More importantly, it appears that Pence may not be willing to sacrifice himself for Trump. The Daily Kos reporter Joan McCarter wrote that there appears to be some distance taking place between the two men. Pence’s name has disappeared from the Trump-Pence campaign logo sent out on some of the fundraising emails. And since November 25, none of Trump’s fundraising pushes have included his name in the “from” field.
Trump Will Give Up the White House — But Not the Republican Party
Losing the electoral vote count on Jan. 6 will actually burnish Trump’s image as a victim of the establishment. An establishment led by those that Trump’s base loathes “radical leftist Democrats,” elite media bosses, deep-state bureaucrats, and the so-called RINOs — Republicans In Name Only — who did not succumb to Trump’s claims of fraud.
The Trump base is calling the current Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia “RINOs,” because they supposedly did not use their political power to halt the certification of their states’ electors for Biden. It doesn’t matter that a governor or a legislature changing the rules after an election was held would violate a state’s laws or consitution.
If Trump can retain his significant influence on his solid base of Republican voters, he will seek revenge on those two governors and other officials who failed to bring about a November victory for him.
In fact, Trump immediately and openly attacked Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after he rebuffed a Trump request. On the morning of Dec. 5, the same day Trump was to hold a rally in Georgia, he called the governor and pushed him to call a special session of the state legislature for lawmakers to throw out Biden’s certified electors and appoint Trump electors. Consequently, at his rally, Trump openly encouraged an ally to run against Kemp when the governor comes up for re-election in 2022.
In Trump’s world, the heroes are the members of Congress, like Republican House member Rep. Brooks of Alabama who embraced Trump’s efforts to stop Biden from being confirmed as the next president. In the two weeks after Biden is confirmed, Trump will still be president. He could issue a Medal of Freedom to anyone he wishes. Brooks could even get one.
Trump’s intention to maintain control of the Republican Party has become evident. Previously, when presidents left office, there were open elections for leadership positions in their party. Trump snuffed out that notion when he tweeted his support for another term for the current chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, who has been an unwavering Trump defender.
More importantly was his creation of Save America, a Leadership PAC rather than a Campaign PAC. Although a Leadership PAC has a lower limit than a Campaign PAC on the amount a donor can give, it has much more flexibility. It can take donations from other PACs and spend unlimited amounts to benefit a political candidate’s travel, polling, and consultants. The Leadership PAC gives Trump the means to hire staff, cover personal expenses, and engage in political activity — even if he never runs for office again.
Trump has shown that he can raise a lot of money — as a victim, as he often has portrayed himself since becoming president. Now, he is the victim of a rigged election. His political operation raised more than $207 million from Election Day on Nov. 3 to Dec. 3 alone. It is likely that close to half that amount came from small donors, which is less than $200. Forty-five percent of his pre-election day contributions came from small donors, while Biden’s percentage from them was only thirty-eight percent.
Trump’s website pleaded, “President Trump needs YOU to step up to make sure we have the resources to protect the integrity of the Election.” For outreach, they sent 414 different emails and another 132 separate text messages, many pitching that the money would support Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund.”
However, the fine print notes that the first 75% of every contribution will flow to Save America. And that PAC cannot be used to support Mr. Trump’s own campaign or the cost of litigation arising from his campaign, according to Brendan Fischer, Federal Reform Program director at the Campaign Legal Center. Nevertheless, Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist, summed up Trump’s political future as inserting “himself in the national debate in a way that’s unlike any of his predecessors.”
The biggest decision facing Trump is whether he plays kingmaker in the Republican Party or actually becomes a declared candidate for the 2024 presidential election. Either option will keep him in the national spotlight and enable him to assert himself as the Republican Party’s main protagonist to Biden. Still, both options will also create ripples within the party. Other Republican politicians have started itching for more freedom to run for president in 2024, even if they incur the wrath of Trump supporters.
Although Trumpistas dominate social media, their voting power appears to be waning. For instance, down-ballot Republicans received more votes than Trump did in Georgia, which is a reverse of what should occur. In other words, a sizable number of Republican voters either went for Biden or, more likely, just didn’t vote for Trump.
As Trump pushes to maintain and expand his control over the Republican Party, internal dissention will likely grow and drive the existing wedge between the mainstream and Trumpist segments even deeper. And that will be a gift to the Democrats — from Donald Trump.
Nick Licata is author of Becoming A Citizen Activist, and has served 5 terms on the Seattle City Council, named progressive municipal official of the year by The Nation, and is founding board chair of Local Progress, a national network of 1,000 progressive municipal officials.
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