Mob Management

What happened when Biden won the election? Summaries are good. Kevin Drum supplies this:

Between November 3 and January 6, every organ of the Republican Party was dedicated to the proposition that Democrats had stolen the presidential election.

The president of the United States – Donald J. Trump – was the foremost champion of this conspiracy theory. His supporters filed dozens of court cases claiming fraud, losing every one of them.

Trump then turned to Attorney General William Barr to support his claims of election fraud, but Barr refused.

As he became ever more frantic, Trump consulted with an eminent lawyer who presented him with a plan to overturn the Electoral College results. Practically speaking, the plan boiled down to “The vice president has the ultimate authority to accept or throw out whatever results he wants.”

Trump pressed vice president Mike Pence to accept this. Pence called around desperately trying to convince himself that he had this authority.

A war room at the Willard hotel, filled with Trump’s closest advisors, was set up to put intense pressure on Pence to play ball. On January 5 Trump issued a statement that he and Pence were in “total agreement” about Pence’s authority.

This was a lie. In the end, Pence couldn’t quite bring himself to follow Trump’s orders.

On January 6, a huge mob descended on Washington DC to protest the reading of the Electoral College results. Trump was thrilled with this.

The mob broke into the Capitol in hopes of stopping Pence from declaring a winner.

At the time, nearly every Republican politician denounced the insurrection.

Today, nearly every Republican politician refuses to denounce the insurrection.

The idea was to stop Pence from declaring a winner. But they weren’t subtle. They were angry. They’d stop everything. They’d bust up the place. They chanted. Hang Mike Pence! One woman said she was there to put a bullet in Nancy Pelosi’s brain. They were there to shut down Congress, perhaps permanently. Congress was useless. The rules and procedures, laid out in the Constitution, were useless. There were there to make Trump president for another four years, or perhaps forever. Screw the Constitution. The vote thing hadn’t gone their way. They’d stop that process though violence. Heads would roll. But they weren’t thinking. They certainly weren’t subtle. And only Donald Trump was pleased. Heads really would roll. His people would take over the Capitol and thus the country. Senators and congressmen and congresswomen and his vice president would die like dogs. His people would keep him in power. You got a problem with that? Fine. You’re dead.

That’s a coup. That’s also stupid. Storming the Capitol and killing lots of senators and congressmen and congresswomen, and this vice president too, isn’t taking over the government. The government is bigger than that. But that was never the plan. That was the mindless mob, the useful but finally embarrassing idiots. Others were far more careful:

They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

These are the people who were thinking things through:

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirminge Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on Jan. 6 that Eastman suggested were within his powers, three people familiar with the operation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Of course Bernard Kerik was there – Mayor Giuliani’s private driver that he had suddenly elevated it be the city’s police commissioner and then recommended to the second President Bush to be just the man to create an Iraqi police force and military organization to make that country more the way we liked it. But someone had warned George W. This man was bad news. Bush wasn’t buying Giuliani’s bullshit. And few months later, well, Bernard Kerik was in federal prison. Bribery and wire fraud and that sort of thing. He served his time.

And he may be useful again. He was a tracker. He had a team:

Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.

It was time to look into what was going on here:

In seeking to compel testimony from Bannon, the congressional panel investigating Jan. 6 this week cited his reported presence at the “‘war room’ organized at the Willard.” The House voted Thursday to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

The committee has also requested documents and communications related to Eastman’s legal advice and analysis.

But that may be tricky:

Eastman told the Washington Post on Wednesday that he has not yet been contacted by the House select committee investigating the insurrection. Asked about his involvement in the Trump team’s operation at the Willard, Eastman said: “To the extent I was there, those were attorney discussions. You don’t get any comment from me on those.”

In May, Eastman indicated that he was at the hotel with Giuliani on the morning of Jan. 6. “We had a war room at the Willard, kind of coordinating all of the communications,” he told talk show host Peter Boyles, comments first reported in the newsletter Proof.

Is that all? Kerik wants cash:

Kerik said his firm billed the Trump campaign more than $55,000 for rooms for the legal team. The former police commissioner, who was helping to head up efforts to collect and investigate allegations of election fraud, was later reimbursed, records show.

He got his money, and the work continued:

In those first days in January, from the command center, Trump allies were calling members of Republican-dominated legislatures in swing states that Eastman had spotlighted in his memos, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, encouraging them to convene special sessions to investigate fraud and to reassign electoral college votes from Biden to Trump, two of the people familiar with the operation said.

This had nothing to do with the mob that wanted to hang Mike Pence. This was about asking states to say Trump had won in their particular state:

On Jan. 2, Trump, Giuliani and Eastman spoke to 300 state legislators via a conference call meant to arm them with purported evidence of fraud and galvanize them to take action to “decertify” their election results. “You are the real power,” Trump told the state lawmakers, according to a Washington Examiner report. “You’re the ones that are going to make the decision.”

A participant on the call, Michigan state Sen. Ed McBroom (R), recalled listening as Trump, Giuliani, Eastman and others described the power state legislators have over the certification of electors. “I didn’t need any convincing about our plenary powers,” McBroom told The Post. “I was listening to hear whether they had any evidence to substantiate claims” of significant voter fraud that could change the results in Michigan. The callers did not provide additional information, he said, and he did not support a delay in the electoral vote count.

Giuliani and his team had no proof of anything at all. They had no evidence. No one was going out on a limb with no evidence of anything at all. Well, almost no one:

Others appear to have been persuaded. Three days after the call, dozens of lawmakers from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin wrote to Pence. They asked that he delay certification of Biden’s victory for 10 days to allow “our respective bodies to meet, investigate, and as a body vote on certification or decertification of the election.”

They’d come up with something, anything at all to prove the votes wasn’t what it was, but this was getting dicey:

Eastman was not the first or the only person in Trump’s sphere to argue that Pence was empowered to block or delay certification of Biden’s victory. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn – and Trump himself – suggested as much on Dec. 23, retweeting a post about the possibility of invoking “the Pence card.”

But after other efforts failed, as Jan. 6 neared, the Eastman strategy came into bloom. Eastman, a Federalist Society member, law professor and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had the conservative legal credentials to burnish the argument.

And that was this:

Eastman’s first memo, only two pages long, described a six-point plan by which Pence could effectively commandeer the electoral counting process and enable Trump to win. The memo was first revealed last month in the book “Peril,” by Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Eastman has said it was a “preliminary draft” of a more complete and nuanced memo that had outlined multiple possible outcomes following the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. The ideas in the memos were the basis for a discussion of options Pence had with Eastman and Trump in the Oval Office on Jan. 4, he has said.

John Eastman set this up, maybe:

Eastman has more recently distanced himself from the memos, telling the National Review on Friday that the options he outlined did not represent his advice. He said he wrote the memos at the request of “somebody in the legal team” whose name he could not recall.

He’s worried, but the conceited felon in not. Someone covered his rooms:

Kerik initially sought reimbursement from the Republican National Committee, but said he was told the party would not foot the bills. The bills were eventually submitted to the Trump campaign, which agreed to pay them.

Kerik told the Washington Post he was “furious” with the RNC because it collected tens of millions of dollars in support of Trump’s legal battle, “yet didn’t spend a dime on Giuliani’s legal team or their expenses.”

But he got paid. That’s what matters. But something was wrong:

Those working in the Willard command center continued to push the idea that Pence could intervene on Jan. 6 itself. Other legal scholars disagreed.

Two experts – former federal Judge J. Michael Luttig and former Justice Department official John Yoo, both known as stalwart conservatives – advised Pence’s staff that there was no basis for the vice president to intervene in the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

“I advised that there was no factual basis for Mike Pence to intervene and overturn the results of the election,” said Yoo, who now teaches law at the University of California at Berkeley. “There are certain limited situations where I thought the Vice President does have a role, for example in the event that a state sends two different electoral results. But none of those were present here.”

Yoo wrote the torture memos for Bush. Torture was fine. The Geneva Conventions were quaint, but this wasn’t that:

Luttig, a former federal appellate judge well known to Trump and for whom Eastman had clerked early in his career, told Pence’s staff on Jan. 4 that the analysis Eastman offered in his first memo was “incorrect.” Luttig said subsequently that Eastman’s advice was wrong “at every turn,” including his suggestion that the vice president could delay the electoral vote count.

It was all nonsense, And now it’s time to explain everything:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to subpoena John Eastman, the pro-Trump legal scholar who outlined scenarios for denying Joe Biden the presidency, according to the panel’s chairman.

“It will happen,” Chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview Tuesday of a subpoena for Eastman, who played a key role in the legal operation that was run out of a “command center” at the Willard Hotel in Washington in the days and hours leading up to Jan. 6. Thompson did not provide a timeline for when the subpoena will be issued.

The committee has requested documents and communications related to Eastman’s legal advice and analysis on how President Donald Trump could seek to overturn the election results and remain in office.

Just the basics. What was going on? That’s open to interpretation:

In recent months, Eastman has distanced himself from the memos, telling the National Review last week that the options he outlined did not represent his advice. He said he wrote the memos at the request of “somebody in the legal team” whose name he could not recall.

But in an Oct. 7 op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Eastman wrote that he advised Pence to delay counting the electoral votes to give states time to resolve concerns about voting irregularities.

Asked about the work of the select committee last month, Eastman defended Trump in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, saying “there’s evidence out there” to support the former president’s baseless claims of election fraud.

“There’s all sorts of evidence out there and the notion that anybody just raising these problems with the election is somehow contributing to an insurrection? Look, if in fact the election was stolen then it’s the people who stole the election not the people that are shining a light on the illegalities that occurred that are undermining our democratic institutions,” Eastman said.

There is evidence out there? Where? He’s not saying, and then this happened:

President Joe Biden on Monday shot down yet again his predecessor’s latest attempt to invoke executive privilege over a new round of White House records sought by the House Jan. 6 committee.

White House counsel Dana Remus told Archivist of the United States David Ferriero in a letter (which was obtained by CNN, NBC News and Politico) that Biden had “determined” that ex-president Donald Trump’s two new executive privilege claims over documents obtained by the White House on September 16 and September 23 are “not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified.”

Biden’s decision came after Trump filed a lawsuit against the House panel and the National Archives last week in a bid to block the records after Biden threw cold water on his executive privilege claim the first time earlier this month.

Nope. That won’t happen:

In her Monday notice to Ferriero, Remus repeats the assertion in her October 8 letter on Biden’s initial rejection of Trump’s request that “Constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”

The riposte:

Trump’s lawsuit claims that the House committee obtaining the records it seeks “would destroy the very fabric of our constitutional separation of powers and invade fundamental privileges designed to maintain the autonomy and functioning of the Executive Branch.”

That argument seems quaint now, and then there’s this:

When Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk spoke at a far-right event in Boise, Idaho, this week, he took questions from people in the audience – including a man who made it clear that he was ready to resort to violence over lies about the 2020 election…

Echoing MAGA Republicans’ false and debunked claims of voter fraud, and hinting at animosity toward vaccine mandates, the man told Kirk, “At this point, we’re living under corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns? No, and I’m not — that’s not a joke. I’m not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

Well, that was awkward:

Kirk responded, “I’m going to denounce that,” but he nonetheless used the man’s remarks as an opportunity to bash liberals and progressives, offer some inflammatory rhetoric of his own and claim that progressives were provoking the man’s anger.

“They are trying to provoke you and everyone here,” Kirk told the audience member. “They are trying to make you do something that will be violent that will justify a takeover of your freedoms and liberties, the likes of which we have never seen.”

Kirk went on to say, “To answer your question – and I just think it’s, you know, overly blunt – we have to be the ones that do not play into the violent aims and ambitions of the other side. They fear – let me say this very clearly – they fear us holding the line with self-control and discipline, taking over school board meetings. They are the ones that are willing to use federal force against us. If you think that you know Waco is bad, wait until you see what they want to do next.”

This will not end well. Mobs cannot be managed. Didn’t they know that?

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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2 Responses to Mob Management

  1. Wesley Sandel says:

    Yes, we are trying to provoke anti-American fascists with our democracy and our beliefs in human rights.

  2. gtomkins says:

    Charlie Kirk’s full response to that person at the Turning Point meeting gives an indicator to which path those people are planning to go down next in their ongoing project of overthrowing the US govt. After Kirk finishes the last part of his response that you cover, that it would be tactically unwise to go overt with armed rebellion now, because now we (the Deep State-D-RINO conspiracy, I guess) would meet their violence with overwhelming force, he gets into the part where he recommends what steps are appropriate for their side now.

    Without name-checking the Declaration, he follows it’s outline, in the sense that he argues that, bad tactics making it pragmatically unadvisable aside, armed revolt is not yet even justified because their side has not yet exhausted the means of redress available to it within the structure of the law and the Constitution. Now, he does not mean redress through courts of law, presumably because their side has already tried that and been rebuffed, doubtless because of RINO-Deep-State co-option of the courts. What he outlines instead is a program of state nullification, states standing up to the federal govt to limit its power by using their Art IV, sec 4, 2nd and 10th Amendment powers to fight back against the usurpations of this Deep State-RINO-D controlled federal tyranny.

    Insofar as Kirk has this right in his outline, what we need to look for is states nullifying federal laws, executive orders, or regulations. They nullify, then they get to play defense, in the sense that instead of their side committing the first overt act of violence, they put the Biden administration in the position of having to choose between 1) sending in troops to vindicate the Supremacy Clause, 2) backing down and letting their red states get away with their nullification.

    Good luck trying to avoid either of these choices by appealing to the courts to rule against any particular state nullification that their side tries. While the idea that the courts are controlled by a Deep State conspiracy is laughable fantasy, the reality that they are controlled by a Federalist Society open takeover is becoming less deniable by the day. They don’t even have to rule in favor of any particular state nullification, all they have to do is declare the matter to be a political question and bow out of deciding in either side’s favor. Of course the nullifiers will trumpet that result as judicial confirmation of the justice of their position, as clearly it is not unconstitutional for their states to nullify, SCOTUS just said so.

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