Martial Law

Trump’s entire presidency has been defined by the fact that he desperately wants to be a dictator.

Good evening! There are just 30 days left until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States.

The Topline

If you’re following the news you probably heard the phrase Martial Law thrown around a lot this weekend. The MAGA Cinematic Universe has been obsessed with this since Trump’s Texas SCOTUS loss, calling on Trump to #crosstherubicon and declare Martial Law (and becoming increasingly frustrated that Trump hasn’t already done so). MAGA influencers such as disgraced former White House Aide Michael Flynn and Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward have called on Trump to do the same and pledged their support should he take the plunge. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman broke the news that Flynn had been present at a White House meeting where Trump asked about potentially invoking martial law as a strategy in his desperate bid to overturn the election.

Haberman’s scoop, along with a similar story from Axios’ Jonathan Swan, caused a freakout on Twitter and in media circles. Trump discussing whether or not he could get away with declaring martial law must have come as quite a shock, especially if you haven’t been following MAGA’s online conversation in the last week or so.

Personally, I don’t think the news was cause for alarm. Trump’s entire presidency has been defined by the fact that he desperately wants to be a dictator. At this point, there have been frequent leaks of him asking his aides about doing things that were against the law, and even more stories of aides freaked out by Trump’s multiple efforts to break laws and shatter norms. (One such effort that led to Trump’s impeachment just one year ago.) Trump might feel more and more desperate as his term in office comes to an end, but his behavior hasn’t really changed. This is who Trump has always been.

We don’t need to worry about Trump’s attempts at a coup working. Come January 20, he’ll be gone, and as I’ve written before, we can stop worrying about everything he does and says. Instead, I hope we can pivot to the long-term damage Trump’s presidency and his enablers in the Republican party have done to America and will continue to do, especially if America stops paying attention when the Trump show is finally over. As my colleague Greg Greene wrote just two weeks ago, Trump’s coup didn’t work, but it’s still a problem because of the potential long-term harm done to American democracy.

The GOP, which was anti-democracy before Trump ever came along, will continue to erode norms, obstruct Congress, and run extremist candidates for offices from municipal offices and state legislatures to the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, far-right groups and militias continue to terrorize state government officials, as is happening in Oregon right now. The incoming Biden-Harris Administration will have to deal with all of this, in addition to the pandemic, economic crisis, and climate crisis when Biden takes office next month.

Donald Trump isn’t going to declare martial law, but his legacy is the deep damage done to American democracy and the mainstreaming of extremism in America’s politics. We don’t need to pay attention to Trump’s every move any longer, but we’re long overdue for an investigation into all the harms his administration has caused. Joe Biden clearly wants to make restoring democratic norms a priority of his administration, but he and his administration can’t do it alone. Saving American democracy, both restoring and improving it, is on all of us. It starts by reclaiming our time from Trump’s predictable antics. 


Driving the Conversation 

Frontline essential workers and people 75 and over should follow frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents in getting the coronavirus vaccines, a CDC advisory panel said Sunday. That means grocery store workers, meat industry workers, teachers, public transit workers, and many more.

There are about 30 million essential workers in this group, and 19 million people 75 and older who would be eligible, with vaccinations expected to start early in 2021. They would be followed by a much larger group—129 million people—including another set of essential workers, adults 65 to 74 years of age, and younger adults with medical conditions that put them at higher risk.

Trump will soon be leaving Washington, but his tactics will influence GOP politicking in particular for years to come. Surrogates such as Donald Trump Jr. are feeding their own followers misinformation — and still eliding fact-checking on Facebook and Instagram. Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) mimics the outgoing president’s angry Twitter staccato and promotes her own pet conspiracy theories online. And right-wing personalities like Kimberly Guilfoyle are, like Trump, breaking with the institutions that shaped them — sometimes under dubious circumstances — and blazing their own paths to power.

“The Democratic Party, historically, has done a good job of engaging moderate, middle-of-the-road, consistent voters. We need to ask ourselves, ‘Why aren’t certain parts of the community voting consistently, and what can we do better to engage them?’ That’s what we did in our race,” Bowman said of his upset run against Rep. Eliot Engel, whom he’ll be replacing in the next Congress. “We engaged the historically disengaged. We listened to them. We learned from them and we created policy in alignment with their needs. That’s where something like ‘defund the police’ comes from.”

“I think to the extent there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department,” Barr said at what is likely his last news conference before his resignation takes effect later this week. “To this point I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave.”

Biden Hires and Appointments 

Additional Members of National Economic Council

Joelle Gamble, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

Joelle Gamble currently serves on the Biden-Harris Transition’s domestic economic policy team. Prior to joining the transition, she served as a principal at Omidyar Network, a social change venture. She was Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute and National Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s network for emerging leaders in public policy. Joelle began her career as an organizer running campaigns for economic opportunity and higher education access in California. Originally from California, Gamble is a graduate of UCLA and Princeton University.

David Kamin, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council

David Kamin is Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Prior to joining NYU, Kamin served in the Obama-Biden White House as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and also worked as special assistant, and later adviser, to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He has also worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Committee for Economic Development. Originally from Arizona, Kamin is a graduate of Swarthmore College and NYU Law, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director for the National Economic Council for Financial Reform and Consumer Protection

Bharat Ramamurti is the Managing Director of the Corporate Power program at the Roosevelt Institute. He was also appointed in April to serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission for the CARES Act by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Previously, Ramamurti was the top economic adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren during her 2020 presidential campaign and senior counsel for banking and economic policy in her Senate office. Born in Massachusetts, Ramamurti is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters.

Your Moment of Zoom

Programming note, our last edition before Christmas will be December 23. We’ll return the following week on December 28. 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. You deserve some fun. H/T to Justin Hendrix for today’s moment of cute.

American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the Presidential transition period from November 3rd, 2020 to January 21st, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin Hendrix, Greg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Got questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.