Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The United States Congress Should Object to the Votes of Trump-Pence Electors

           The United States Congress should object to the certification of the election of the Republican and Trump-Pence Electors on January 6 when it convenes to count the votes of the Electoral College.

            The Twelfth Amendment grants power to Congress to count the votes, which effectively means the certification of the election of the Electors.  Congress has an implied power, which it has used many times, to object to the election of the Electors.   

There are ample grounds to object to the election of the Republican Electors for Donald J. Trump and Michael Pence for President and Vice President, respectively, such as deception, intimidation and ballot access denial that rendered fraudulent the results of the General Election for Electors on November 8, but the most significant was foreign interference.  In addition, there was bribery and intimidation of the Electors by the Republican Party and the Trump campaign.  Each of these measures alone may have altered the outcome of the election, but collectively have swayed it undoubtedly.

As I have posted previously, the deception came in many forms, such as Trump’s false portrayal of himself as a successful businessman, to his myriad lies, half-truths and false statements.  His campaign and supporters also widely spread fabrications and other false statements favorable to his candidacy and unfavorable to opponents and critics.  In addition to Russian disinformation, which Trump and his supporters eagerly disseminated, there was a massive dissemination of fake news and generated by Trump supporters to his benefit. 

Like the deception, the intimidation also took various forms and was aimed at many targets.  Continuing to the present, those who criticize Trump typically face the threat of lawsuits, public ridicule and professional disadvantage Death threats have become normalized.  The notorious con man is known to employ private investigators, the fear of which the selective Russian hacking and leaking on his behalf only reinforced.  There was not only an unusual degree of physical violence at his rallies, but some critics were even attacked with seizure-inducing means via the Internet.  Many of Trump’s business and sexual assault victims were afraid to speak out or to sue him for fear of legal retaliation and a public backlash.  Reporters were afraid to lose access or, like other commentators, to lose ratings for reporting or expressing the truth.  Other candidates for the Republican nomination were afraid to criticize him or to withhold their endorsements of him after he was nominated.  Many who considered seeking election as independents were similarly intimidated.  GOP Convention Delegates were threatened by Republican officials with political retribution and worse for supporting the Delegates’ freedom to vote their consciences.  Republican members of Congress were afraid to speak out against Trump, let alone withhold their endorsements of him.  The climate of fear created by Trump and his supporters, typical for the rise of an authoritarian, was extraordinary in the history of American presidential elections and carried over to the vote of the Electoral College.

The ballot access denial to independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin, who received nearly 706,000 votes across the Union, despite his name appearing on the ballot in only 11 States, was most noticeable in Florida, where he was nominated by the State’s largest third party, the Florida Independent Party, but removed from the ballot illegally by the office of Florida’s Trump-supporting Governor.  The 29 Trump-Pence Electors won the State by only around 2% of the vote.  As I noted in my last post, nearly 8 million Americans voted for other candidates, while another 2 million skipped the top of the ballot.  These unusually-high numbers suggest many votes would have been cast for other preferred candidates besides the Democratic and Republican nominees in Florida, as elsewhere.  Although the denial of ballot access tainted the election in many States and overall, the best grounds for Congress to object to the election of Electors would be to those of Florida.

The foreign interference in the election is still being investigated fully by the Administration, while Congress is about to being its own investigations.  Because the degree of foreign interference is not fully understood, Congress should conduct its own investigation, as it has in past presidential elections and routinely does for contests for congressional seats, until it is fully informed and can determine either that the interference did sway the outcome of the election, and pursue the appropriate remedy of objecting to the election of Electors who were not duly elected, or that the election results were not swayed, which would restore confidence in the result.  From what is known from various sources, the Russian Federation, led by a hostile, tyrannical Communist KGB agent, not only hacked and leaked information, but engaged in a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign to help elect Trump.  Their hacking of Democratic e-mails and leaking of such information, some of which could have been forged, which is a typical Russian spycraft, was designed particularly to discourage supporters of Bernie Sanders from voting for the Democratic nominee, as well as to embarrass her and her party, but the “active measures,” as the Soviet/Russian KGB calls their technique, of propaganda and disinformation was probably even more significant.  These ranged from overt propaganda from Russian state media to the dissemination of propaganda and lies through anonymous Russian social media account-holders posing as Americans opposed to the Democratic nominee or supporting Trump.  These accounts, the number of which also made Trump seem much more popular than he was, helped spread quickly any information favorable to Trump and unfavorable to his opponents and critics, whether true or not.  Although it is unlikely the Russians, who did hack several state election offices, were successful in hacking voting machines, an audit of the paper records of those machines that produce paper records should prove or disprove this theory.  Regardless, the Russians effectively will have pulled off a coup d’etat against the U.S. by helping to elect their preferred candidate, unless Congress exercises its constitutional authority.

Despite the deception, intimidation, ballot access denial and foreign interference, Trump barely succeeded in electing a majority of Electors.  If the Electoral College were to have fulfilled its constitutional duty to exercise its best judgment in good conscience to avoid the election of someone unfit, demagogic and under foreign interference, Trump would not have received a majority of the votes of that body.  The Republican Party felt compelled to bribe some of the Electors with dinners while the GOP and the Trump campaign intimidated the others with threats of political retribution, while Trump supporters threatened violence against the one Republican Elector who courageously announced beforehand his intention not to vote for Trump.  Two other GOP Electors who could not vote for Trump in good conscience were pressured to resign. 

If Congress objects to the election of Trump’s electoral votes until it can conduct a full investigation, at least from the closest States, where the outcome was surely swayed by deception, intimidation, ballot access denial and foreign interference, no candidate would have a majority of the electoral votes.  Then, the House of Representatives, voting by state delegation, may choose from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes.  As a compromise, they may elect Colin Powell, as he received the third most electoral votes.  If there is still no majority for any candidate by January 20, (Inauguration Day), then the current Vice President shall act as President until a majority is attained.  

Congressional objection to Trump’s electoral votes would be the last constitutional safeguard before Inauguration Day against an authoritarian foreign agent taking office as the President of the United States of America.  

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