Trump’s final plan to overturn election loss
A Republican senator in the US has announced he will challenge the election results from key swing states when Congress holds a joint session to count the votes from the electoral college on January 6.
Usually, the event is little more than a formality. But Mr Trump has been pushing congressional Republicans to raise objections during the process, in an effort to throw out the electors from some of the states he lost.
The idea is that Congress could then recognise alternative electors, who would give Mr Trump a second term in defiance of their states' certified results.
Today's news is significant because any objection during the joint session has to be made by at least one person from each chamber of Congress.
Mr Trump already had the support he required in the House of Representatives, but he still needed at least one senator to sign up. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley obliged.
"I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own election laws," Mr Hawley said in a statement.
The argument that states violated their own election laws, benefiting Mr Biden, has been tested in court repeatedly since November 3. Judges at both federal and state level, including Trump appointees, have rejected it.
"And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election in support of Joe Biden," he continued.
"At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act."
JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
Mr Hawley's announcement means the Republicans who support Mr Trump's efforts will have the numbers they need to raise objections on January 6.
However, they lack the numbers to actually throw out any electors.
Here's a quick rundown of the process.
When an objection is raised, the joint session is suspended, giving the Senate and House a chance to debate it separately. Then each chamber votes. They can either accept the objection or reject it.
For a state's electors to be invalidated, both chambers must vote in favour of the objection. And that is simply not going to happen here.
The Democrats control a majority in the House of Representatives, and are obviously never going to overturn Mr Biden's victory. The Republicans control the Senate by a relatively slim margin, 52-48, and not all of them will support an objection.
So, while Mr Hawley can ensure the process of formalising Mr Biden's win is more drawn out than usual, the effort to change the election result will fail.
One of Mr Hawley's Republican colleagues, Representative Adam Kinzinger, was among those who reacted to the Senator's announcement by suggesting he was trying to win brownie points with Mr Trump's supporters to set up his own run for president in 2024.
Internal monologue: “I want to be President so I decided to try to get POTUS tweet saying I’m great even though I know this isn’t going anywhere, but hey... I’ll blame someone else when it fails.” https://t.co/2YuSFZ1RSk— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) December 30, 2020
The President, for his part, has spent the last 24 hours repeating many of his usual claims about voter fraud on social media.
He covered a fair bit of ground, so I'll run you through the tweets one topic at a time.
Late last night, Mr Trump once again went after the Republican Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp, and its Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Both men are longtime Trump supporters, but have been frequent targets of the President's ire since the election. Mr Raffensperger in particular has pushed back against some of Mr Trump's voter fraud theories.
"I love the great state of Georgia, but the people who run it - from the Governor Brian Kemp to the Secretary of State - are a complete disaster and don't have a clue, or worse," the President wrote shortly before midnight.
"Nobody can be this stupid. Just allow us to find the crime, and turn the state Republican.
"The consent decree signed by the Secretary, with the consent of Kemp, is perhaps even more poorly negotiated than the deal that John Kerry made with Iran.
"Now it turns out that Brad R's brother works for China, and they definitely don't want Trump. So disgusting!"
...The consent decree signed by the “Secretary”, with the consent of Kemp, is perhaps even more poorly negotiated than the deal that John Kerry made with Iran. Now it turns out that Brad R’s brother works for China, and they definitely don’t want “Trump”. So disgusting! #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
The President appears to have picked up a theory from right-wing media, which claims Mr Raffensperger has a brother named Ron who works for Chinese company Huawei.
Mr Trump has been known to watch Newsmax, which last night featured an interview with former political consultant Dick Morris, who brought up the theory.
It is false. Mr Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron. He has four siblings, none of whom work in China.
There is someone named Ron Raffensperger currently serving as chief technology officer for a subsidiary of Huawei. He shares a surname with Georgia's Secretary of State, but is not related to him.
The consent decree Mr Trump referred to is an agreement Mr Raffensperger reached with a group of Democratic organisations, who had sued Georgia over its handling of signature matching during elections.
Its most significant effect was to ensure voters were given notice if their mail-in ballots were rejected for technical reasons, granting them a chance to fix the mistake.
In another post last night, Mr Trump slammed The Wall Street Journal over an editorial it published on Monday, which argued the President was sabotaging his own party's chances of winning the upcoming run-off Senate elections in Georgia.
He called the editorial "very boring and incoherent", going on to talk about "hundreds of thousands of ballots mysteriously flowing into swing states very late" on election night.
....that, quite frankly, didn’t have much of a chance, like 7, 8 or 9. The Presidential Election was Rigged with hundreds of thousands of ballots mysteriously flowing into Swing States very late at night as everyone thought the election was easily won by me. There were many....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
There was no "mysterious flow" of ballots. Election workers merely continued to count the remaining legally cast ballots in heavily populated areas, which had yet to be tallied when Mr Trump prematurely claimed victory.
In its various lawsuits, the Trump campaign has not substantiated any of his claims about the ballots in question being fraudulent.
Shortly before 2am, the President shared a link to a paper by one of his administration's officials purporting to show evidence of fraud in Georgia.
New Lott study estimates 11,350 absentee votes lost to Trump in Georgia. Another 289,000 "excess (fraudulent) votes" across GA, AZ, MI, NV, PA, and WI. Check it out! ➡️https://t.co/eIBjdmox5R pic.twitter.com/2MlKVbBoLO— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
At 7.30am this morning, Mr Trump was back on Twitter again, this time suggesting the result of an annual Gallup survey naming America's most admired man was evidence that Mr Biden's election win was fraudulent.
Mr Trump topped the list with 18 per cent of the vote, ahead of his predecessor Barack Obama with 15 per cent and Mr Biden with 6 per cent.
...millions more votes than Trump, but can’t get anywhere close to him in this poll. No incoming president has ever done as badly in this annual survey.” @MarkSteynOnline @TuckerCarlson That’s because he got millions of Fake Votes in the 2020 Election, which was RIGGED!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
Next, Mr Trump blamed America's states for the behind-schedule rollout of the coronavirus vaccines, telling them to "get moving".
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 11.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed so far, and about 2.1 million shots have actually been given to people.
Mr Trump and his officials previously said they aimed to administer 20 million shots by the end of the year.
Last night, Vice President Mike Pence walked back that rhetoric, saying Operation Warp Speed was on track to "distribute" 20 million doses "by next week".
It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government. We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states. Biden failed with Swine Flu!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2020
The Health and Human Services Department has told US media there is "an expected lag" between people being vaccinated and the data being reported.
But Mr Biden was heavily critical of the rollout in a speech yesterday, saying it was "falling far behind" where it needed to be.
"The effort to distribute the vaccine is not progressing as it should," he said.
"If it continues to move as it is now, it's going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people."
After an interlude in Mr Trump's posts, during which the President went to his golf course in West Palm Beach, he hopped back online to repeat his assertion that the US had "more votes than people voting" on November 3.
The United States had more votes than it had people voting, by a lot. This travesty cannot be allowed to stand. It was a Rigged Election, one not even fit for third world countries!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
The origin of this claim, which Mr Trump added to his repertoire shortly before Christmas, was an article published by the website Gateway Pundit.
That article, which you can find here, claimed "simple math" showed Mr Biden could not possibly have won as many votes as he did, because there weren't enough voters.
It pointed to a Washington Post graph tracking voter turnout, which showed a historically high 66.2 per cent of the voting eligible population had cast ballots in 2020.
"When we add up the number of registered voters we obtain 213.8 million registered voters in the US as of this morning," the site wrote.
"We find a huge issue. If we have 213.8 million registered voters in the US and 66.2 per cent of all voters voted in the 2020 election, that equals 141.5 million voters who voted in the 2020 election.
"If President Trump won 74 million votes, then that leaves only 67.5 million votes remaining for Biden. This means 13 million duplicate or made up ballots were created and counted for Biden!
"This also supports our observations form the start. Biden committed fraud in every imaginable way, but the big steal was in millions of fraudulent votes that were created to steal the election for Biden. MILLIONS!
"The results of the 2020 election at a very high level do not add up. This is math, liberals - very simple math that even liberals should be able to understand. At a high level, the Biden camp clearly committed fraud."
The Washington Post's graphic actually measured turnout as a percentage of eligible voters, not registered voters.
Those terms do not mean the same thing. There are millions of Americans who are eligible to vote - i.e. they're citizens over the age of 18 - but have not registered to vote.
The Post estimated the voting eligible population was about 240 million people, as opposed to the 214 million Gateway Pundit used. When the correct number is plugged in, those "13 million duplicate ballots" no longer exist.
And with that, you're all caught up.
Originally published as Trump's final plan to overturn election loss
This statement’s genre is: “how can I object without tying myself to the craziest conspiracy nuttery and justify it by finding some sliver of precedent, but not do something that will actually change anything, so I can win support of Trump’s base when I run for potus in 2024?” https://t.co/S4oG93q5kW— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) December 30, 2020
The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020