All eyes on Michigan
If the transition train is going to jump the tracks, this is a critical junction
Good evening. Voting in the 2020 presidential election ended 17 days ago. The inauguration happens in 61 days. It’s also Joe Biden’s 78th Birthday!
If there is a “last stand” for the Trump campaign’s effort to deny the will of the American people, it may be in Michigan, and it very well may come to a head over the next 72 hours. Here is the situation:
On Wednesday, we remarked in this newsletter on an attempt by election board officials in Wayne County, Michigan, to block the certification of votes from Detroit, Michigan’s largest city. Today, seven Republican leaders from Michigan flew to see Trump at the White House, a meeting that “raises questions about the Michigan officials’ earlier pledges to respect the will of voters and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., as Mr. Trump continues to try to subvert the election results,” as The New York Times put it.
At issue is whether the state will move to certify the results of its election on Monday. In an unusual move that alarmed many, “Trump has personally intervened to try to upend Michigan’s vote certification process,” but “all 83 counties have certified their vote counts, giving President-elect Joe Biden a 156,000-vote margin of victory, and the state board of canvassing is scheduled to meet Monday to consider certifying the final state tally,” reports The Washington Post.
Trump’s invitation caused a notable and necessary stir. While sometimes White House Press Secretary, sometimes Trump Campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany diabolically played down the meeting with the Michigan lawmakers as “routine”, others noted the grave risks it posed to democracy and the possible criminal liability it might expose the lawmakers to, if in fact Donald Trump introduced any kind of quid pro quo for actions that may help him in the matter. Indeed, civil rights leaders blasted the meeting, and protestors met the Michigan lawmakers on both ends of their trip to Washington DC:
Joe Biden campaign advisor Bob Bauer did a press conference early in the day, in which he excoriated the Trump campaign’s shenanigans, in Michigan specifically:
The White House meeting with the Michigan lawmakers wrapped with no press conference or public appearance by the President, his campaign or the Michigan lawmakers, but they did release a bland statement only moments ago. Those concerned that Michigan Republican Senate Majority Leader Shirkey and House Speaker Chatfield might emerge as the new Dukes of East and West Michigan, installed by His Royal Highness Donald Trump, will find nothing in their words to signify any deal was made:
So what’s next? Now we wait until Monday.
If the vote is certified, then Donald Trump’s quixotic quest to overturn a democratic outcome may well be totally dead, not just in Michigan but entirely. More signs are emerging every day that that is the case:
GOP insiders say it is over.
CNN reports that Trump doesn’t even really believe he won, and is only “delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016.”
Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse may be the only prominent elected Republicans saying Trump’s efforts are baseless, but cracks are starting to turn up in the conservative media ecosystem: the Washington Examiner just published an editorial arguing it is time for Trump to concede.
It doesn’t help the Trump effort that folks around the President keep testing positive for COVID19, including Rudy Giuliani’s son (a White House employee) and Donald Trump, Jr. (Thoughts and prayers.)
And even the President is reduced to retweeting loads of fake accounts (such as one claiming to be his sister) advancing his baseless claims of voter fraud.
Either way, only a few more days remain until the Safe Habor Deadline on December 8th, after which General Service Administration chief Emily Murphy has no choice but to ascertain a winner and the federal government must get on with what will likely be a thoroughly unprofessional and shambolic transition at the level of Trump political appointees.
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Driving the Conversation
Biden Team Faults Mnuchin for Letting Fed Aid Programs Lapse. Nick Timiraos and Paul Kiernan, The Wall Street Journal.
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team sharply criticized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to allow funding for several emergency Federal Reserve lending programs to expire, escalating a political fight. “The Treasury Department’s attempt to prematurely end support that could be used for small businesses across the country when they are facing the prospect of new shutdowns is deeply irresponsible,” said Kate Bedingfield, a Biden spokeswoman, in a statement Friday.
Donald Trump Is Leaving Behind Blueprints to End Democracy. Timothy Egan, The New York Times.
This is Trump’s legacy: an attempt to blow up an election, from Wayne County, Mich., to Maricopa County, Ariz. For Trump the failed businessman, cheating and suing were a way of life. For Trump the failed president, cheating and suing are a blueprint for his followers into the future. And I fear there’s no going back.
The chaos Trump is sowing threatens the Biden transition — and all Americans. Garrett M. Graff, The Washington Post.
The country is watching Trump and his allies pursue a sham legal effort to deny the reality of his defeat that is equal parts outlandish and implausible. At some point in the next 61 days, it will fail. But little stands in the way of Trump’s broader push to deal his successor the weakest possible hand. Where Trump’s “leadership” will steer the country before Jan. 20, 2021, is an open question. It’s clear, however, that his actions threaten not just the incoming Biden administration but all Americans.
Exactly a year before Thursday’s press conference, Powell appeared on a QAnon YouTube show and praised the host's support for her other client, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, as “huge and extremely helpful.” The appearance on the YouTube show was not the first time Powell had publicly backed QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that claims Donald Trump is secretly battling the deep state while trying to uncover a cannibalistic Satanic child sex-trafficking network operated by Democrats and the Hollywood elite.
Not a Coup at DOD: How Acting Sec. Miller’s Reorganization May Improve Special Ops Oversight. Luke Hartig, Just Security.
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller has only been on the job for 10 days, but he is already making big waves. With announcements of major reductions in U.S. troop deployments and a reorganization of the oversight structure for special operations, Miller’s short tenure has been met with suspicion and sharp critiques from defense experts. But the move to revamp the oversight of special operations deserves further consideration, because Miller just may have landed on a valuable reform. Far from being a Trump power grab, it’s more likely that Miller’s moves on special operations oversight are the culmination of reforms he had long contemplated and can now oversee during his short tenure leading the Department.
Inspired to keep up the pressure on Michigan lawmakers? Spread the Michigan message online: Follow We Make Michigan on social media (twitter, IG, Facebook) for messages from leaders across the state speaking out to support our democratic process to spread the word. Use these graphics to create social media content you can share from your own accounts.
Your Moment of Savory Schadenfreude
Your Moment of Sweet Celebration
CORRECTION: Your humble correspondent Greg Greene, in Wednesday’s issue, linked to one Shakespeare play while thinking of another. He shall compare Silvana, the reader who alerted us to the error, to a summer’s day — for they are more lovely and more temperate. Anyhow, we’ll stop short of sonnet length, and say that Greg apologizes to the Globe for the error.
American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the issues and ideas that will define the Presidential transition period from Nov. 3, 2020, through Jan. 21, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin Hendrix, Greg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Have questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.