Tue. May 17th, 2022

Republican senators say it’s too early to worry that Trump would seize another election conspiracy to try to overthrow a 2024 result that does not go his way: he is not even a candidate yet, and even though he is running up, Trump won ‘t have the power of the federal government available as he did in 2020.

“Until there is an application date in 2024, I do not necessarily know if there is anyone in or out of the race,” said Senator Richard Burr, a retired Republican in North Carolina who said he focused on election safety and the 2022 midterm. “So it’s kind of irrelevant to talk about someone who can run in ’24 and what they might be saying.”

CNN spoke with six of the seven Republicans who voted to judge Trump on the concerns raised by Democracy experts. The seventh, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, declined to answer questions when CNN approached, and a spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s a little too early,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican in Utah. “He was obviously trying to misrepresent what was already happening.”

“I have no idea what President Trump’s plans are,” said Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican in Maine. “I’m really not focused on that. I’m focused on all the issues we have to deal with.”

The response from Senate Republicans who voted that Trump’s behavior was accusatory after the 2020 election is quite different from the urgent warnings coming from researchers studying democracies and election legislation. They have held conferences on electoral discrimination, written several opinion pieces claiming that a constitutional crisis is already here, and argued that Congress has an urgent need to act to get new crash barriers in place.

Democracy experts say Trump and his allies are already posing a serious threat to a close election in 2024 – and American democracy. He is convinced of significant chunks of the Republican Party’s base to buy into his lies about the 2020 election being stolen, he has a stranglehold on the GOP to launch a presidential bid, and he has approved candidates reflecting his election conspiracies , seeking to hold elections in key battlefield states.

“What the Republicans discovered in 2020, perhaps to their surprise, was that it is possible to overthrow the election and that the base will not only tolerate it but also support it,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard University politician and co-author of “How democracies die.”

“And now, much more than 2020, there will be Republicans on earth ready to take advantage of opportunities to either throw ballots out of rival fortresses or topple the results,” he added.

Democrats say they also have deep concerns about Trump’s actions, the consequences of new restrictive voting laws and the prospect of a run-off, and a new Senate Democratic report released Thursday revealed new details about how Trump tried to use the Justice Department to overthrow him elections in 2020.

“I think what we have learned from the Trump presidency, and the behavior of his allies, should not ever reject what they seek to do,” the rep said. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who has authored voting rights legislation in the House. “Too often when people said, ‘Well, they’ll never try,’ or ‘He’ll never do this,’ or ‘It would be beyond the pale’ – they do.”

‘It is up to us all again to ensure that our systems are healthy’

After Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, he began spreading false conspiracy theories about fraud in the states he lost. Trump took increasingly desperate steps to try to hold on to power, pressuring state election officials, state legislators, top Justice Department officials, congressional Republicans and even his vice president to embrace his election lies and try to overthrow the election result.

His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful – but not until thousands of his supporters fell on the Capitol to try to stop the certification of the 2020 election in a deadly uprising on 6 January. Ten Republicans in the House voted to charge Trump a week later, and seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him of the charge of incitement. But in the following months, Republicans have coalesced around Trump and his stronghold at the party’s base. He seeks revenge on everyone who crossed him: Rep.Liz Cheney of Wyoming was thrown out of the GOP House leadership for defying Trump and fighting for his political life in Wyoming, while Ohio GOP rep. Anthony Gonzalez chose to withdraw from Congress, referring in part to the “toxic” atmosphere of the Republican Party.
A CNN poll last month found that nearly 60% of Republicans and Republican hanging independents said that “believing Donald Trump won the 2020 election” was “very” or “something” important to their definition of what it is. means to be a Republican.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only Republican out of the seven who supported deployment for re-election in 2022, though she has not yet said whether she will run. Trump approved her upcoming challenger in June.

Asked if she is concerned that Trump may try to overthrow a future election, Murkowski told CNN this week that she has concerns about efforts to undermine elections through actions such as intimidation of polls and foreign election interference. She said she “does not speculate on what may and will not come in 2022 or 2024,” but argued that there are systems in place in states to stop rogue actors who could overthrow an election result.

The housing problems of pro-Trump challengers catch Murkowski's eye

“You can have one election official, but that does not necessarily mean it will ruin the whole process of your state,” Murkowski said. “You still have governors who are accountable to the people. You still have legislators who are accountable to the states they serve, the districts they serve. It is up to us all again to ensure that our systems are sound and they the people who oversee these systems are good, honest, fair and principled people. “

Asked if he was worried about whether Trump could try to undermine the election, Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy told CNN, “I’m worried if anyone would.”

But he said the situation “is very different” now that Trump was out of power because many of the actions Trump took in the run-up to January 6, such as lobbying in the Justice Department to investigate fraud and urging the vice president to intervene in Congress, could only happen as president.

“I think it was 2020 when he had the handles of power, which will not be the case then (if he runs in 2024),” Cassidy said.

Election law scholars, however, claim that Trump is taking steps that would allow him to try to overthrow the election in the states themselves, including his approval of candidates in the typically low-key Secretary of State, who have erroneously claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. despite the fact that there is no evidence of widespread fraud. If elected, the Trump-backed candidates will stand for election certification in states like Georgia and Arizona the key to winning the White House.

The warnings from academics became increasingly dire last month following the revelation of a memo drafted by Conservative lawyer John Eastman advising Trump ahead of Jan. 6. The memo suggested a step-by-step plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overthrow the election by throwing voters out and declaring Trump the winner as he chaired a congressional session that counts the vote of the Electoral College.

“It’s chilling. It’s literally a document full of lies that would have provided a way to put an end to American democracy,” said Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science and co-director of the Fair Elections and Fritale Center at the University. of California, Irvine.

The struggle for the right to vote

Part of the disruption around voting and elections is explained by the struggle for the right to vote, where Republicans have opposed the legislation proposed by the Congress Democrats.

Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who is retiring and voting to convict Trump, said he had made plenty of statements on Jan. 6 and stood by them when asked if he was concerned that Trump could try to overthrow another election.

Toomey rejected efforts to change voting laws at the federal level.

“I think there’s a fundamental disagreement,” Toomey said. “States are responsible for conducting elections. I think it works, I think it’s the right way to do it, and I think the legislation to nationalize is misunderstood. It is someone’s idea of ​​a solution, but it’s looking for a problem, so I’m not interested. “

Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has so far rejected a call by suffrage activists to blow up the filibuster to pass legislation on voting, last month introduced a compromise proposal, the suffrage law, in an attempt to win over Republicans with more tailored legislation. So far, he’s had some success, though he’s talked to some Republicans, like Murkowski. She noted that she has also worked with Vermont Democratic Senator Pat Leahy on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a bill to restore part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was repealed by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
But so far, she is the only Republican in the Senate who has expressed support.

Collins said she seems to be some areas of bipartisan compromise on electoral laws, e.g. Publication of campaign contributions from groups protecting their donors. But she said she is opposed to federalizing state-run electoral laws.

“Maine has a lot of voters, and I don’t see why its laws should be replaced by federal mandates when we do a good job,” Collins said.

‘Too many potentially realistic scenarios not addressed’

The bills that have been proposed in Congress this year are largely about voting rights, but a group of Democrats and democracy researchers say an opaque 19th-century law that dictates congressional rules to confirm the presidential election is long overdue. delayed for a fix – and could be exploited by bad actors.

“There are too many potentially realistic scenarios that are not addressed in the statutes …

On Thursday, Senate Attorney General Dick Durbin released a staff report revealing that Trump asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election result and was considering replacing the acting state attorney with a DOJ attorney who supported his election fraud conspiracies.

The goal, according to the report, was to convince state legislators not to certify the results or to nominate alternative voters, which could have led to Congress ultimately voting on who won the presidential election. Under the rules, each state delegation gets one vote – and Republicans controlled 26 of the 50 delegations.

Sources close to Parliament’s committee, which is examining January 6, say the panel is likely to look at ways to secure the presidential election certification system as the panel examines the circumstances surrounding Trump’s efforts to overthrow the election ahead of the Capitol attack.

“I have felt ever since the trial that there was a political coup shrouded in a violent uprising,” the rep said. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democrat on the select committee. “And we need to step up to the fact that both of these nightmare prospects will ever happen again.”

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