[guest post by Dana]
Almost since Election Day, an increasing number of Trump advisers and allies have privately conceded that they do not think the president will win reelection, even if he pursues all legal options at his disposal. They have said they are simply trying to give Trump — a notoriously sore loser who has long fashioned himself a victim of nefarious forces seeking to undermine him — the time to come to grips with his loss, knowing he is likely to refuse to ever officially acknowledge the election results.
But the delay in a peaceful transition of power — whatever the justification — has potentially devastating effects, not just for Biden but for the nation.
“They all know he lost, and they are lying about it to protect his little feelings. It’s insane,” said Tim Miller, a former Republican strategist who led one of several outside groups working to elect Biden. “They’re all playing pretend because Donald wants a participation trophy, and there are real human consequences — not just to our democracy, but threats to individuals and their lives.”
Just yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that the State Department did not accept the election results either when asked about ensuring a smooth transition of power:
There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.
Today, however, in an effort to clarify his remarks, Pompeo again continued to sidestep acknowledgement of the announced results:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rejected criticism of remarks he made Tuesday in which he said that the State Department would ensure “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
“There’s an awful lot of work to do. We’re reminding everyone that all the votes haven’t been counted,” Pomeo told “Special Report” host Bret Baier. “We need to make sure the legal process is fully complied with and then America will do what it does best. We’ll have a leader in the White House at noon on Jan. 20 and we will execute American foreign policy.”
“I am very confident that we will have a good transition, that we will make sure that whoever is in office on noon on Jan. 20 has all the tools readily available so that we don’t skip a beat with the capacity to keep Americans safe,” Pompeo insisted. “That’s what I was speaking to today. I think it’s important for not only the American people, but the whole world, especially our adversaries, to know that we will achieve this in a way that’s deeply consistent with the American tradition and keeps us all safe here at home.”
President-elect Joe Biden was asked about Trump’s refusal to accept the election results, and what his plan moving forward are:
Mr Biden was asked directly what he thought of Mr Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election.
“I think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Mr Biden said.
After pausing, Mr Biden said “how can I put this tactfully”, before adding:
“It will not help the President’s legacy.”
Mr Biden said that he understood the sense of loss Mr Trump’s supporters felt right now.
“I think they understand that we need to come together. We need to pull the country out of this bitter politics we’ve seen,” he said.
Asked by a reporter what he would say to Mr Trump, Mr Biden said: “Mr President, looking forward to speaking with you.”
Mr Biden also said his transition team would not be taking legal action to try to force the Trump Administration to officially acknowledge him as the president-elect.
“I don’t see a need for legal action, quite frankly,” he said.
Of course, Trump has a history of casting doubt on elections when the results displease him. His aggressive pushback on the announced results is perfectly in character for him:
On election night in 2012, when President Barack Obama was reelected, Trump said that the election was a “total sham” and a “travesty,” while also making the claim that the United States is “not a democracy” after Obama secured his victory.
Trump even wrote on Twitter, “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
And then in 2016:
When he ran to become the Republican Party nominee in 2016, he attempted to cast doubt on the election process. Trump said he did not lose the Iowa caucuses in 2016 to then candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, because he “stole it.”
“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” Trump wrote on Twitter at the time.
He also wrote, “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.”
So in light of the polling below, I’m going to ask, where is the actual evidence of this and would the alleged evidence turn the election for Trump?:
Our latest YouGov/The Economist poll has a host of troubling findings about public confidence in the election.
Most shocking is that 86% of Trump voters say that Biden "did not legitimately win the election." 73% say that we'll "never know the real outcome of this election."
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) November 11, 2020
Relative to my question, I’ll leave you with this:
How should we think of the state of play? Aside from the ordinary (and considerable) sting of a presidential loss, is there any objective reason for this extraordinary amount of hysteria? Is the election, in fact, being stolen?
The short answer is no. There is zero evidence of either fraud or other unlawful irregularity sufficient to cast the emerging result into doubt. That’s not the same thing as saying there has been no fraud. That’s not the same thing as saying there have been no unlawful irregularities. But we still can have confidence in the outcome.
[I] have no doubt that more allegations will emerge. In evaluating those claims, here’s a good rule of thumb—do not believe tweets or Facebook posts. Don’t take them seriously. Instead, look for evidence presented in sworn court documents.
There is a veritable army of GOP lawyers who are chomping at the bit to challenge these election results. If there is actual evidence of fraud substantial enough to alter the outcome of the election, those claims will not remain on Twitter. They will not remain on Sean Hannity or on talk radio. They will end up in federal court, where they’ll be exposed to a searching and critical inquiry. For you law geeks out there, look not to Twitter but to PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) to discern whether there is any merit to the most alarmist of claims.
Make sure to read the whole informative piece.
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I’ll just re-up this, from October 26:
So what happens now to the Republican party?
You might have guessed that Step One would be the recriminations, but it turns out to be Step Two. Step One is dealing with the claims of fraud. The most immediate issue: Trump has not conceded the election, despite the obvious lopsided results. Fox News and fever-swamp right-wing sites have come out with what they claim is clear evidence of fraud. CNN and the rest of Big Media purports to debunk these claims, and independent observers can see that while there are one or two possibly suspicious episodes, they are not nearly enough to have swung the election. No matter. Trump and his diehards spend weeks claiming that an investigation needs to be opened, and the drama occupies the country up to and even after the inauguration of Joe Biden.
It’s not like this reaction was unpredictable.