Viewpoint: Three votes away from Trump victory

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Karen Rubin, Columnist

After every presidential election there is typically a post mortem. This time it is literally a post mortem, with two Capitol police officers dead plus four others who died in the course of an attempted coup at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

The predicate to the insurrection was the Big Lie – espoused by Trump before he set the marauders on their way to the Capitol – that he won the presidency in a “landslide” but the election was stolen from him (not just rigged).

Why was Trump in such disbelief he could lose that he mounted this horrendous campaign to spread the Big Lie of voter fraud – that is, despite being a narcissist sociopath? Because he assumed the fix was in.

Trump never cared about losing the popular vote – not by 3 million as in 2016 or by 6 million (as I predicted) or by 7 million in 2020, when he lost by 81 million to 74 million votes. All along, the plan was simply to edge out enough votes in three battleground states to win the Electoral College, just as he did in 2016. And he didn’t care how he did it.

As Trump told the Georgia secretary of state in that totally illegal phone call: Just find me 11,780 votes – one more than Biden.

According to Trump, then he only needed one extra vote in three battleground states – say Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia to give him 279 electoral votes– to counter 7 million votes for Biden. And he did his damnedest – including calling Republican legislators to seat Trump electors over Biden’s.

Think of it: three votes would have had more power than 7 million.

Russia, are you listening? The Trump campaign manager, Bill Stepien, even held up charts to show the precise precincts where he needed to squeeze out a few extra votes in order to win the state, hoping Vladimir Putin would reprise his highly successful 2016 disinformation campaign (when Paul Manafort handed Russian agents the map).

The insurrection on the Capitol Building by extremists instigated by Trump was the culmination of an escalating years-long effort to subvert the 2020 election and democracy by a wannabe dictator.

Let’s review all the ways Trump attempted to steal the election, which would have succeeded but for the extraordinary outpouring of opposition that gave Biden-Harris the win:

Extorting Ukraine (“But do me a favor, though”), to announce an investigation of Biden in order for Ukraine to get crucial military aid.

Enlisting the Department of Justice to prosecute the Bidens.

Turning COVID-19 into the ultimate weapon for voter suppression.

Promoting violent reprisal of peaceful protesters for equal justice, police reform by federal forces in Democratic-controlled cities, testing the waters to impose martial law.

Provoking war with Iran (because war has proved such an effective ticket to re-election).

Sabotaging the US Postal Service, then promoting the myth of fraudulent, counterfeit mail-in-ballots as people were forced to wait on long lines to vote in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enlisting Republican governors, secretaries of state in voter suppression (Texas shutting ballot boxes so there was only one per county; North Carolina changing rules for mail-in-ballots mid-stream). Trump expected absentee ballots from Democratic neighborhoods to be rejected based on signature-matching or postmark deficiencies.

Mounting dozens of lawsuits to stop counting or reject mail-in ballots after Election Night.

Calling out supporters to intimidate voters at the polls.

Mounting more than 60 lawsuits charging voter fraud without a shred of evidence.

Egging on Stop the Steal protests by elevating, promulgating fantastical conspiracies.

Expediting and installing Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court, to secure a 6-3 “friendly” majority, where Trump expected he would be declared the president, just as in 2000.

When that didn’t work, he persisted after the election:

Bribing, extorting Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania lawmakers to seat Trump electors instead of Biden; attempting to extort the GA secretary of state to “recalibrate” vote in order to get just one extra to win Georgia from Biden.

Advocating martial law to take over state houses to nullify the election.

But even after that failed and all 50 states certified the vote and Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, Trump only accelerated efforts to overturn the election: He called the Georgia secretary of state to demand his cooperation to “find” 11,780 votes and “recalibrate” the total so he would win by one vote.

At the same time, he replaced the U.S. attorney in Georgia with a loyalist to initiate an investigation into voter fraud to challenge the results.

Now desperate, Trump incited insurrection to stop Congress’ constitutionally mandated certification of Biden as president, Kamala Harris as vice president.  The assault is expected to be just the opening salvo in a civil war unleashed in capital cities in all 50 states which was promised if Trump did not win the election.

Trump’s base – most certainly deserving the label “deplorables” – has from the beginning consisted not of those poor, neglected white working-class people, but militia, White Supremacists, Christo-Fascists, the Proud Boys and Boogaloo, who thrive on violence and look for an excuse to commit mayhem. It was a symbiotic relationship – Trump could count on their violent support and they could count on Trump giving them a veneer of “legitimacy,” taking them out of the shadows into the mainstream.

Trump is still unapologetic, now issuing a veiled threat that if the Democrats don’t cease renewed efforts to impeach and remove him, it will fuel more violence. At the same time, complicit Republicans, emulating the technique of PLO Chairman Arafat in calling for peace to prevent Israel’s reprisal for terrorism, are now appealing for “healing” and “unity,” when they have spent decades nurturing and widening partisan divides.

If this isn’t sedition and treason, which fall under the category of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” what is? Why bother with administering an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”?

This cannot stand. Trump is the greatest threat to national security, to democracy this country has ever faced.

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