Now that all of the battleground states have certified their election results, the Trump legal team of Howard, Fine and Howard are left with two options: One, try to convince a gullible judge to overturn an outcome their lord and master doesn’t like; and two, pressure Republican-led legislatures to appoint their own slate of electors.
In the case of the former, even conservative judges, some appointed by Trump himself, have found their arguments lacking in merit, not to mention evidence. And even if there been some merit or evidence, the remedies they seek – namely overturning the ballots of millions of voters – is so extreme as to strain credulity. Not Even Bill Barr, his personal lackey at the DOJ, could find any evidence of wide-spread fraud in the election.
The latter isn’t going to happen either. Pennsylvania’s legislature just ended its 2020 session and will not reconvene until January 5, 2021. In Michigan, both Republican leaders have said they will respect the will of the voters and not intervene. And both Arizona and Georgia lack the mechanism needed to pull off such a heist. The Arizona legislature, in particular, needs a two-third’s majority just to convene, which Republicans currently lack.
And if you’re thinking the Supreme Court might intervene, like it did in 2000 in the now infamous Bush v. Gore case, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Most legal scholars believe that the Court will refuse to even hear the case, much less overturn an election as decisive as this one. And in spite of what Trump and his sycophants keep insisting, this was a very decisive election.
But while Trump may be headed for a dead end legally, there is still one more Hail Mary maneuver his Republican cohorts can employ. And that would occur January 6, when a joint session of Congress meets to certify the results of the Electoral College. Normally, this is a formality. It involves the vice president presiding over an official tallying of the electors. Watching wet paint dry is more thrilling.
Some Republicans are planning to invoke a little-known procedure in the Electoral Count Act to challenge Joe Biden’s win. According to the statute, if one member of the House and one member of the Senate file a joint written protest, both chambers adjourn to debate the outcome for up to two hours. This stunt can go on for virtually every state that Trump is contesting if the participants want it to, meaning we could be looking at a very lengthy delay.
In the event that there is no agreement between the houses, supposedly the governors of the states in question would cast the tie-breaking votes. I say supposedly because this scenario hasn’t happened since 1877 when Democrat Samuel Tilden had the presidency stolen from him by Republicans.
But before it gets to that point, Nancy Pelosi has a couple of tricks up her sleeve. For starters, as Speaker of the House, she is entrusted with the swearing in of all members of the House when the new Congress begins on January 3. If she suspects a coup, she could simply swear in the Democrats first, then once Biden is certified, swear in the Republicans.
You might say she can’t really do that, and you’d be wrong. Turns out she can, and she might very well threaten to do just that. And here’s the best part: there isn’t a damn thing Republicans can do about it. Mitch McConnell can kick and scream all he wants, to no avail. Not even the Supreme Court can intervene. When it comes to power, the Speaker of the House is about as powerful a figurehead as you can imagine.
But if Pelosi doesn’t want to use that arrow in her quiver, she can do the next best thing. Assuming a Republican senator actually goes along with this stunt, and there are a few who come to mind, chances are the more lucid members of the caucus – Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski – will stop it dead in its tracks. But if it turns out they lack the spine to do so, Pelosi could simply delay debate indefinitely until Trump’s term comes to an end on January 20, at which point, she becomes the acting president.
Again, there’s nothing McConnell or the Supreme Court can do to stop her. It’s the ultimate nuclear option, which is why I think McConnell is going to tell his hotheads to cool their jets and keep their typing fingers in their jacket pockets where they belong. If Kevin McCarthy wants to humiliate himself, I say go for it. He’s had a lot of practice over the last few years so why stop him now?
You might say, what about the business of the Congress? Don’t make me laugh. What business? Apart from keeping the lights on, these people are about as useful as a paper weight. These people could take half the year off and no one would miss them.
The bottom line is this: Trump’s days are numbered. He knows it and so do most Republicans. And just in case some of them are in denial over that fact, President Nancy Pelosi will be happy to remind them.