Thursday, January 27

Georgia Goes Out to Vote While Trump Attacks Democracy (Analysis)

(CNN) — Desperate, deceived and dangerous, President Donald Trump plunged the United States further into a political abyss on Monday night in his quest to steal an election in which he lost and destroy the faith in democracy that rightly ousted him from office.

The president threw lies, conspiracy theories and absurdly false claims of voter fraud before an irate crowd in Georgia on a trip scheduled to help two Republicans in Tuesday’s second round to seal the Senate’s balance of power.

But, as usual, and as it has been for the past four years, even during the severe pandemic that he ignored, the outgoing president’s main concern was the same.

“By the way, there is no way we lost in Georgia, it was a rigged election,” Trump said, the first inaccurate words out of his mouth after disembarking from his Marine One helicopter, before expanding his disinformation message to the November 3 election as a whole.

“When you win by rampaging and stealing and being rigged, it’s not acceptable,” Trump said, in a bitter speech, rooted in false claims that he won an election that President-elect Biden won 306-232 in the Electoral College.

Although he often included Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in his comments, and warned of the dangers of a Democratic monopoly of power in Washington if they lose, the president’s appearance was essentially a wild version, on stage, on time. audience, from Saturday’s call in which he sought the support of Georgia officials to draw votes out of nowhere to discredit Biden’s already certified victory in the state, a show of blatant abuse of power and possibly illegal.

Trump’s call: did the president commit a crime? 5:01

The president’s rants Monday night stood in stark contrast to the astonishing point-by-point denunciation of his case by a senior Republican Party election official who used facts and evidence to dismiss false accusations of electoral corruption.

All this is easy, demonstrably false. However, the president persists, ”Gabriel Sterling, manager of voting systems implementation for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said at a calm and reasoned news conference Monday.

Trump created a nightmare image of a demagogic and ranting commander-in-chief, wallowing in fantasies on the edge of politics, a terrifying prospect as he will maintain the awesome powers of the presidency for another 15 days.

But he did not explain exactly how he planned to overturn the constitutional process that will make Biden president, an omission that will reinforce the impression that he is doing everything he can to overturn America’s faith in democracy in a final act of revenge.

Republicans elect Trump over democracy

Trump and the Republican acolytes who are trying to thwart the certification of the election by Congress on Wednesday are essentially trying to perpetrate a massive scam against the American people. After dozens of Republican-appointed justices, the U.S. Supreme Court, and Republican state officials summarily rejected his false claims of fraud, they argue that his constitutional theft is justified because millions of Trump voters believe his lies about a stolen election.

The logical extension of the case and Trump’s comments, given that he has not offered credible evidence of a rigged election, is that when Republicans lose it must be because Democrats cheated, whatever the truth in the situation may be.

There are some in the party who still defend the truth. In an extraordinary act, Sterling, a state government official who was unknown on the national stage before November, appeared on national television to contradict the president.

Does Donald Trump attempt against US democracy? 1:28

“The reason I have to be here today is because there are people in positions of authority and respect who have said that their votes do not count, and that is not true,” he said.

Sterling is an example of the many courageous and principled Republican officials who stood firm in defense of America’s democratic system and who, unlike Trump, did not prioritize their own political goals or personal vanity over preserving faith in it. system.

His integrity and willingness to stand up to a powerful president who threatens revenge on opposing party members stands in stark contrast to the expediency of Trump’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill.

Fourteen Republican senators and dozens of Republican members of the House of Representatives plan to file objections to the election during the normally pro forma joint session of Congress on Wednesday to count Electoral College votes.

Hours before appearing with Trump at the election eve rally, Loeffler, who is desperate to win favor with Trump’s base, said she would join them.

Trump’s call sparks concern in Washington

The shock wave from the recordings of Trump’s call Saturday with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger convinced some Washington Republicans to bolster their warnings that the president was doing profound damage to the republic.

His actions have effectively divided the party into two factions, those who support democracy and the Constitution, and those who are willing to destroy the basic principles of the United States out of loyalty to an unbridled president.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who is shielded from Trump’s wrath by previously deciding not to run for reelection, called his call with Raffensperger “a new low in this whole pointless and regrettable episode” and condemned the “relentless pressure, disinformation and attacks ”by Trump.

The third-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Representative Liz Cheney, who broke with her party’s leadership, told CNN the call was “deeply disturbing.” However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in the friendly confines of Fox News that Trump was simply concerned about the “integrity” of the election.

The Republican insurrection will fail because Democrats control the House and there is not a majority in the Senate to reject the election results. But the staging as a whole will profoundly damage the legitimacy of Biden’s new presidency in the eyes of Trump voters at a time of deep national crisis.

During his speech Monday, Trump publicly leaned on Vice President Mike Pence, whom he asked to “step forward” when he presides over Biden’s certification of victory, although his role is purely ceremonial and he has no power to change the outcome. electoral.

Would Trump face consequences for controversial call? 1:07

Alarm over the president’s behavior and the lasting damage it will cause on Capitol Hill led a group of 170 CEOs on Monday to warn that the elections were over and that a peaceful transfer of power was vital.

Washington is bracing for the arrival of thousands of Trump supporters ahead of mass demonstrations aimed at intimidating lawmakers who will gather for the formal certification of the election.

The president is now expected to address one of the rallies, a factor that will likely further increase concern over the mounting tensions that have prompted city authorities to deploy the National Guard.

Police in the US capital on Monday arrested Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and charged him with allegedly burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a black church last month during an earlier “Stop the Steal” rally. .

Nervous night for Georgia Republicans

Republican strategists viewed Trump’s arrival in Georgia with dread, on the eve of what looks like two tight races, and wondered if he would stick to the script.

The fear was that the president’s attacks on the integrity of the electoral process would simply convince his supporters, whom the Republican Party needs to come forward in large numbers on Tuesday, that the elections were already rigged.

“If you are a Georgia voter, if you want your values ​​to be reflected in your election officials, I strongly urge and encourage you to vote tomorrow. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Don’t self-suppress your own vote. Don’t make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t let anyone steal your vote that way, ”Sterling said.

On the other hand, the president, who enjoys an almost mystical connection with his grassroots voters, has a strong record of raising Republican candidates in elections.

He offered strong backing to both Loeffler and Perdue and frequently criticized his opponents.

Elections in Georgia: we explain what is at stake 3:35

If Republicans win one of the two seats Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will maintain a narrow majority in the House and have the ability to serve as a roadblock to Biden’s ambitious agenda.

But if Democrats welcome Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock to the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to cast the deciding vote on any tie on the bills once she takes office alongside the new president on January 20. .

Biden made his own visit to Georgia on Monday in an attempt to build on strong early voting numbers among Democrats in the Senate runoff.

“By electing Jon and the Reverend, they will vote so that states have the resources they need to distribute vaccines,” Biden said. «It is a pity what is happening now. It’s literally a shame.

The president-elect argued that just having two new Democratic senators would guarantee new stimulus checks for Americans, coming together to revive the COVID-19-hit economy and forging unity.

Trump did little to offer guarantees that Tuesday’s election would be fair.

That was left to Sterling, the top state election official.

“Everyone’s vote will count. Everyone’s vote did count.

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