Today on “The Fall of the American Republic” … Donald Trump is still planning to hold a wild rumpus in Washington D.C. on January 6 to bring pressure on the Senate as it completes the certification of the Electoral College vote. And most-Trumpian Rep. Louie Gohmert has filed a suit against Mike Pence telling him to refuse to read out the votes from “disputed” states, and instead just go on and insert the names of Trump electors.
With Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and the other members of Trump’s cracked legal team largely back at sea to fish for fresh krakens, this effort from Gohmert appears to be all that remains of Trump’s coup attempt. Well … all that remains except for the plan put forward by Michael Flynn where Trump just declares martial law, throws out the election, and announces there will be another vote one of these days. That one will remain on the table right up until Joe Biden raises his hand.
But the problem with the Gohmert-flavored coup plot appears to be that Pence isn’t playing along.
Trump’s legal team isn’t completely out of business. After all, the filing of pointless suits has been a major money maker for Trump. So on Tuesday his team appealed to the Supreme Court to have them throw out the vote in Wisconsin. The key to this latest appeal: Trump’s team says voters were allowed to vote from home because of reported illness, but no one followed up to see if they were actually sick, so 50,000 votes should be thrown out. And because it would be a pain checking all the votes again to see how that would affect the election, the best thing to do is just pitch all the electors and let the state’s Republican legislature select a Trump slate to send to Washington. Which seems to assume that this would make a difference at this point, when in fact the Electoral College has already voted, and it’s only the outcome of that vote that will be counted in Washington on January 6. Trump could seat Don Jr. and the whole Giuliani family at this point, because they don’t get to vote again.
Honestly, there appears to be no reason to continue any of the current lawsuits at this point. No reason other than the obvious one—they’re used as justification for Trump keeping open what has proven to be a lucrative pipeline to remove money from his supporters and siphon it directly into Trump’s own pockets. At this point, exactly none of the money being raised by Trump is committed to anything other than … Trump.
If Trump is going to actually do anything at this point to affect what happens on January 21, it’s going to have to involve the official counting of the electoral vote that happens on January 6. In addition to filling the streets outside with the very finest of his boogaloo-ready supporters at an event where Trump seems to be promising violence, the heat is on for Pence to do something genuinely ignorant.
Under the theory put forward by Gohmert, and supported by a number of Republicans, Pence can open the box of electoral votes, then simply decide not to count those from states Trump doesn’t like. Throw out enough votes, and Trump can “win” the election without bothering to have anything more than the 232 electoral votes he actually racked up. In other words, the entire Republican scheme involves just disenfranchising however many tens of millions of voters are required to make their minority look like a majority. Which, to give Gohmert credit, looks exactly like how Republicans have been winning elections for decades.
Of course, the actual 12th Amendment doesn’t give Pence these powers. His job on January 6 is to open the box of votes. That’s it. There is absolutely nothing in the law that indicates Pence gets to select which states to read, or has any authority to throw anything out. It’s really not even Pence’s job to read the votes or do the counting. He just … opens the box. That’s it. As The Washington Post points out, there are likely to be Republicans who rise to dispute the outcomes in some states (see Gohmert, Louie as well as incoming most-ridiculous-Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville). However, both the Constitution and later laws don’t really give Pence any authority to do than nod. Clerks will tally up the vote. Pence will get the joy of announcing the totals.
Pence apparently realizes that his role in certifying that Trump has been flushed is a bit problematic for his future in a party that only exists to smooch Trump’s posterior. Since the election, Pence has done a lot of traveling. Even though surging pandemic might seem to require the presence of the man supposedly in charge of the pandemic team, Pence has pointedly not been present for meetings, or press events, or anything else.
As Politico reports, the whole reason that Trump henchman Gohmert ended up suing Trump henchman Pence is that the later couldn’t figure out a way to do what the former wanted. Pence apparently refused to sign on to a promise that he would toss the votes of state after state until Trump got his minority-majority, because Pence realizes that’s not within his powers.