April Ryan allowed her personal fantasies to get the better of her as she weighed in on the upcoming presidential election. On CNN, Ryan, one of the cable news network’s political analysts predicted that if President Trump loses the election, he will refuse to leave the White House. She sees a split-screen scenario in the future.
“There’s going to be a split-screen on Jan. 20, 2021. If Joe Biden is now going to be the 46th president of the United States, you will have him being inaugurated and watching police and armed forces trying to pull Donald Trump out of the White House. I cannot wait for that split-screen,” Ryan said.
She isn’t alone in this particular fantasy. Several politicians and public figures have voiced the same scenario. Others in the media have spouted the same nonsense.
The theory is nothing new, as many members of the mainstream media made similar predictions in 2019 when the Mueller probe didn’t force Trump out of office.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid speculated last year that Trump “doesn’t have any intention of committing to a peaceful transition of power,” while CNN’s editor-at-large Chris Cillizza was once ridiculed for tweeting a link to a fictional column he wrote about what would happen if Trump “refuses to admit” he loses in 2020.
The conversation included the Grand Poobah of the Never Trumpers, Bill Kristol, who remained mute as Ryan pontificated. He’s busy conserving conservatism, you know. The CNN host was asking about Trump’s concerns about election integrity when Ryan took the opportunity to say, “This president has already used mail-in voting hisself.” (Yes, she said “hisself”) But Trump used absentee voting, not mail-in voting. That’s a critical distinction, as Ryan well knows, or at least she should know. To vote with an absentee ballot, the voter must request that ballot. What the Democrats are proposing is that voters across the nation use mail-in ballots for the November election. That means that ballots are mass-mailed out and all sorts of problems develop from that. Dead people, pets, illegal immigrants, felons, all potentially would be mailed a ballot. The probability for widespread fraud is there, whether Democrats want to admit it or not. It’s part of their hope that the election is chaotic. Look for more of this narrative – that Trump will have to be carried out of the Oval Office rather than accept a defeat gracefully – to continue and escalate as the election grows near.
This leads to another story about the potential for Trump to refuse to accept the election results. A “non-partisan” group of 67 Democrats and Republicans came together to wargame the November election in June. On Monday the group released their recommendations should the election be contested. Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan group of political operatives, former government officials, and academics met four times and gamed out possible scenarios of the election. Excuse my skepticism of the bi-partisan makeup of the group. A left-wing partisan, Rosa Brooks, whose resume includes serving as special counsel in George Soros’s foundation, leads the group. She held two positions in the Obama administration and was a frequent critic of George W. Bush during his administration, often using Hitler references. The Republicans in the group are all described as “Never Trump” Republicans.
The group released a report with recommendations on how local officials and others should be moving forward in preparation for the election results. It sure sounds like the expectation that Biden will win is strong.
“We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape,” the group wrote in a 22-page report. “We also assess that President Trump is likely to contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means, in an attempt to hold onto power.”
With Democrats playing Democrats and Republicans playing Republicans, they used the game to play out four Election Day scenarios — a narrow Biden win, a Biden victory with a bigger margin, a Trump victory in which Biden wins the popular vote, and an election that is too close to call for weeks. The scenarios followed chaotic twists and turns that stretched political norms to the breaking point, resulting in massive street protests and, in some cases, constitutional crises.
“The purpose of this report is not to frighten, but to spur all stakeholders to action,” the report said. “Our legal rules and political norms don’t work unless people are prepared to defend them and to speak out when others violate them.”
The report expresses a fear that the bad Orange Man doesn’t respect norms and can use his incumbency to his advantage. They want everyone to prepare for a street fight, not a legal one, you see. Yet, if I remember correctly, it was Democrats – Hillary supporters and Never Trump Republicans – who took to the streets after her defeat and continue to refuse to accept the 2016 election results. Projection, much?
The recommendations are as you might expect – lots of responsibility placed on their cohorts in the media to “prepare the public”.
The group urged the media to prepare the public for the idea that a long period of ballot-counting should not cast doubt on the final election results, given that some states have expanded access to mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus. Mail-in ballots, which Trump has railed against, take longer to count, and results may be delayed past Election Night.
The report and participants in the games have urged officials including governors, secretaries of state, and legislative leaders — especially in swing states with divided government — to consider the choices they might have to make in a contested election.
“They can sit down now, before the election, and agree on how they are going to adjudicate potential contestation,” said Gilman. “I think that can head off a great deal of mischief.”
The report urged congressional leaders to conduct oversight hearings around the election and to set clear expectations and urged military and law enforcement leaders to be “attuned to the possibility that partisan actors will seek to manipulate or misuse their coercive powers for inappropriate political ends.”
It also urged political leaders and the media to push back against unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud by Trump, who has repeatedly and baselessly questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. It also urged civil servants and government officials to anticipate a rocky administrative transition, no matter what happens.
The fact remains that Trump has said he’ll accept the election results either way if he wins or loses. He rightly acknowledges his right to question the results in a close election as all candidates do. That is not a nefarious thought to have. Al Gore and Hillary Clinton both refused to concede as they questioned election results. This is some level one projection coming from Democrats and Never Trumpers who are all working to get Joe Biden into the White House.