President Donald Trump, his campaign and his supporters are preparing to create a political crisis on Election Day.
The president said at a rally on Sunday that the winner of Tuesday’s presidential ballot must be declared before the end of the day – not to mention the fact that states routinely take days, if not weeks, to count vote totals presidential elections and certify the official results. The comments came shortly after a report from Axios that the president is considering declaring himself the preemptive winner on Tuesday if the early returns of voters in person, in enough states to give him a victory in an electoral college, appear to tip in his direction – even if the full tally of mailings state votes, which are expected to favor Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden more, will still be excluded.
Trump has denied the report. But during a brief briefing with reporters, he vowed that his team of lawyers would act quickly on election night to petition the courts to, ostensibly, challenge the legitimacy of a category of ballots posted before the election. polling day end but arrived after it was over. Different states have different laws governing these ballots, but the Supreme Court has already ruled, in several cases, to allow their submission based on the applicability of state laws. Trump called the court rulings “terrible.”
“We’re not going to let that happen to us with these ballots,” he said during a campaign stoppage earlier today. “Does that mean we go and wait, so it’s not November 3, is it much later than that?” We should know the outcome of the November 3 election, the evening of November 3. This is how it went and this is how it should be.
In fact, that is not how it happened in the history of the American elections. The vote count continues regularly in the days following the presidential elections. No state has ever reported on its final presidential vote count on election day. And unofficial projections by news organizations that played on election results and exit polls have resulted in retractions as more votes are counted.
The Trump campaign has nonetheless sought to misrepresent the votes counted after November 3 – as millions of votes are in every election – as votes “stolen” from the president’s re-election effort. “President Trump will lead on election night, winning likely 280 elections [votes], somewhere in that range, and then they’re going to try and steal it after the election, ”senior campaign adviser Jason Miller said on ABC Week on Sunday.
The disinformation emanating from the Trump campaign on Sunday was glaring enough that the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Utah, who is also running for governor on Tuesday, felt compelled to step in and correct the record. “Please ignore this type of garbage,” he wrote on Twitter in response to Miller’s comments. “The truth is, elections are never decided on election night.”
Equally incredulous was Brendan Buck, former senior assistant to Republican House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner. “I really urge my Republican friends, wherever you are on Trump, not to give BS any legitimacy so that people who voted by their local rules are not counted,” he wrote on Twitter. “Do not go.”
What Trump remembers as election night victories in previous presidential cycles were actually projections released by major news organizations based on their already-compiled vote calculations and the resulting election outlook in general. But the unprecedented number of postal votes this cycle means a lengthy official tabulation process – and far less real-time data on election night.
This will make it much harder for any news organization to predict Tuesday’s election night winner. And that dramatically increases the stakes for these media, which now have to fight against one of the two main political parties, either by declaring victory prematurely or by quickly deciding to discredit their work in particular and the election results as a whole.
Over the past few weeks, many TV and print media organizations have been running simulations to prepare journalists for a variety of real and somewhat extravagant scenarios, including the possibility of one of the contestants declaring victory early. An NBC insider told The Daily Beast that NBC News ran a simulation in which the Trump campaign emailed supporters declaring their victory on election night.
All of this has come against the backdrop of Trump supporters across the country engaging in menacing, sometimes violent and potentially criminal efforts to intimidate the political opposition.
On Sunday, there were several reports of traffic jams on major highways as trailers supporting Trump took to the streets with their Trump flags adorned on their cars. In Georgia, Democrats said they canceled a rally because a large pro-Trump militia presence was expected. Earlier in the weekend, a group of drivers supporting Trump almost drove a Joe Biden field bus off the road in Texas.
Trump tweeted enjoying this Texas trailer on Saturday and later criticized the FBI for apparently reviewing the incident. On Sunday morning, RNC president Ronna McDaniel said she had not seen the video the president tweeted approvingly.
“You sure don’t mean harm, and we shouldn’t harm others,” she told CBS Face the Nation. “So the president did not approve this.
Trump’s actions during the close of the election indicate that he and his team are prepared to take extraordinary steps to try to delegitimize the results or create the political and legal circumstances to fold things after November 3. A source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast on Sunday that the president stressed he wanted Republican lawyers on standby and “ready to fight” possible legal battles with Democrats.
Over the past week, furthermore, the campaign has quietly changed part of its online donation page affecting recurring contributions, or donations that are periodically billed to a donor’s credit card throughout the cycle. electoral.
Until the end of last week, this donation page indicated that donations would recur until election day on November 3. Now the page says credit cards from recurring donors will continue to be minted until mid-December. These post-election contributions could be used to help fund legal battles or other expenses that arise in the event the race is extended by an extended period of counting.
The campaign did not answer questions about the change, and if, or for what purpose, they expect to need additional funds in the weeks after voters go to the polls.
But some Trump loyalists are hoping it doesn’t come down to the involvement of lawyers. “I think we’re earning enough that the delayed accounts in the mail don’t matter,” a senior assistant on the Trump team said.
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