Yeah, I don’t know. As surprising and interesting as this is, I don’t know that Pat’s the guy to lecture anyone about alternate realities.
My guess is that Robertson has noticed that some evangelicals’ emotional investment in Trump has taken a turn post-election towards the idolatrous and sinister and he’s trying to turn it the other way. I’m skeptical that he or anyone else has the juice to do it, but good luck to him. Watch, then read on.
Televangelist Pat Robertson declares that Biden will be president and that Trump "lives in an alternate reality," "is very erratic," and should not run again in 2024: "You've had your day and it's time to move on." pic.twitter.com/2WYCZOSNTO
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) December 21, 2020
The president isn’t going to “move on.” In fact, his stubbornness in refusing to move on and his preference for quadrupling down on claims of voter fraud with the biggest cranks he can find has begun to freak out even his own aides, as I noted yesterday. Some reporters like Byron York who are normally well disposed to Trump had their hair standing on end today upon hearing that Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell were in the Oval Office on Friday chatting about seizing voting machines and using the military somehow. Powell was back at the White House last night, reportedly trying to pitch people there on an illegal executive order to seize state voting machines.”No one is sure where this is heading. He’s still the President for another month,” said one White House official to CNN today. “There’s high levels of concern with anything involving Sidney Powell,” said another source close to Trump. “The lawyers are very worried.”
These are his own aides, not careerist RINO bureaucrats, trying to warn the country that Powell is loosening his grip on reality and that they don’t know what he’s capable of right now. The only reason the stock market isn’t crashing and Congress is calling emergency meetings about how to hold him in check is that everyone assumes he, Powell, and the few remaining true believers working with them are idiots who couldn’t plot to successfully hold up a convenience store let alone pull off a coup. Even Giuliani seems eager to create distance between Trump and Powell, although whether that’s because he fears Powell’s influence over him or is *jealous* of Powell’s influence over him is a separate matter.
“Let me say definitely that Sidney Powell is not part of our legal team, she hasn’t been for 5 weeks, she is not a special counsel for the president, she does not speak for the president, nor does she speak for the administration. She speaks for herself.” — Rudy Giuliani pic.twitter.com/VUjQk1dtVl
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 21, 2020
Rudy’s probably just worried about being collateral damage in the nuclear bomb blast that’s about to hit Powell for allegedly defaming Dominion and Smartmatic. He doesn’t want Trump or the campaign — or himself — implicated in that.
As for the president, I think his term ends in one of three ways — badly, very badly, or “all bets are off.”
The “bad” outcome is that he keeps trying to pressure Congress into rejecting the electoral votes of certain swing states when they meet on January 6. I won’t rehash why that can’t possibly work. It’s enough to say that Republicans don’t have the votes in either chamber to do it. But this is the best outcome realistically before January 20 because it’s ultimately pure performance. Matt Gaetz or Jim Jordan or whoever gets to make an angry speech about fraud in the House, the two chambers then vote to accept the electoral college results, and that’s that. The last procedural opportunity to disrupt the election will be gone. Trump may be working on something like this now:
Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) December 21, 2020
I read that and had to wonder if it’s not a case of Meadows trying to cover his tracks. It was reported this weekend that he and Pat Cipollone pushed back vehemently on Trump and Powell at Friday’s meeting about the various weird, illegal things they wanted to do to try to stop the electoral process or “investigate fraud” or whatever. Meadows may be one of the sources who’s been whispering to the media that he’s nervous about what Trump might resort to now. Tweeting some dopey nonsense about House Republicans fighting back against fraud may just be his way of evading Trump’s suspicions. Another possibility suggested by a Twitter pal is that Meadows is trying to steer Trump back towards more mainstream and accountable actors like Republicans in the House, hoping/believing that that’ll lead him to lose interest in the Rasputin figure here, Powell. Could be. Either way, I think Meadows is trying to land this plane safely as the wings loosen and threaten to come off.
Anyway, Trump is trying to recruit some Senate Republican to object to the electoral results on the 6th, as he can’t force a floor vote in Congress unless that happens. David Perdue has been telling people that he’ll do it — but Perdue’s term expires on January 3 and the Georgia runoffs aren’t until January 5. Even if he wins, his win probably won’t be certified in time for the vote the next day. Tommy Tuberville has also been talking about objecting but hasn’t made any promises despite a direct appeal from Trump himself. McConnell will be twisting his arm in the other direction behind the scenes. Either way, if the worst that happens before January 20 is that Republicans make a stink in Congress on the 6th before certifying the electoral college results, with Trump declaring war on the party afterward for its “disloyalty,” that’s the least bad outcome we can realistically expect.
The “very bad” outcome is that Trump listens to Powell and really does try some nutty legal maneuver like seizing voting machines or, God forbid, trying to get the military involved. Neither move will work: Courts have spent the past month and a half slapping him down and will go on doing so, and Mark Milley’s not about to turn the United States into a dictatorship because Trump can’t cope psychologically with the fact that he lost. But even an attempt at doing something outlandish via executive power will create a crisis. House Democrats haven’t said anything about impeachment, partly because we’re only 30 days out from the inauguration and partly because there’s lots of important legislative business to attend do, but a clearly illegal power grab by Trump would force an unpredictable response. Would Pelosi move to impeach? Would rank-and-file Democrats, who’ve ignored Trump’s attempts to cling to power so far, hold mass demonstrations to protest the power grab? How would Trump react to that, with some of the most fascist-curious members of his base already urging him to invoke the Insurrection Act? Would there be a street presence from MAGA fans too?
The “all bets are off” outcome is simply where Trump abandons all legal or quasi-legal means of stopping Biden from taking power and starts calling on his fans to do it by any means necessary. I don’t think that’s a high probability outcome but I don’t think it’s super-low probability either. Right now he likely still believes there’s an official way of overturning the election, Congress’s session on the 6th, and is focused on that. By that evening, though, he’ll have been disabused of that notion and then he’ll have nothing to do for two weeks before the inauguration except to stew about how he was supposedly robbed and all of the people who’ve failed him. The proverbial plane may end up landing — certainly, Biden will be sworn in as scheduled on the 20th — but it’s going to be a crash landing of greater or lesser magnitude. Hope that it’s lesser.