How They Do It– ‘Donald Trump may stun America with shocking November surprise’

By former US Congressman Steve Israel

Only two months away from the midterm elections, is it farfetched to consider whether President Trump would try to invalidate the results if Democrats win the House?

Brace yourselves. Armed with the gavel in one hand and subpoenas in the other, a House Democratic majority represents an existential threat to Trump’s presidency. House Democrats will be able to look at his business dealings, his still secret tax returns, his financial relationships around the world and whether he’s using the White House to generate windfall profits for his private enterprises.

So far, Trump has browbeaten members of his own administration for seeming to uphold the rule of law. He can threaten to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but he can’t fire a House Democratic majority. Or can he? Remember the third presidential debate of 2016, when Trump was asked about “absolutely accepting” the results of the election? His answer: “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

A day later, with the story of this potential rebuke of the democratic process spreading, Trump clarified his remarks at a rally: “I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.”

Trump won, and we never learned if his words were mere bluster or a foreshadowing of how he would have reacted to an electoral loss. Even in victory, the president baselessly asserted that he would have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Despite zero evidence to substantiate this, and a since disbanded council that found nothing to support his claim, the president’s base likely considers this accusation to be gospel.

Already, Trump is setting the stage for a sweeping delegitimization of a House Democratic majority. In July he tweeted, “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!” This despite the likelihood that a House Democratic majority with the ability to pass tougher sanctions against Russian meddling in our elections is Putin’s nightmare.

Last week, Trump told evangelical leaders that if Democrats win the midterm elections, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently.” Apply his rhetoric to the very real possibility that, with so many closely competitive races, election night may be long and uncertain. Remember the special election in Ohio’s 12th District on Aug. 13? In what was assumed to be a comfortable Republican district, the outcome was too close to call for nearly three weeks.

Or how about the race last November that decided control of the Virginia House of Delegates? The Democratic candidate initially won by a single vote. Following a recount, the race was determined to be a tie. A court determined that the election would be determined by a drawing, specifically of the candidates’ names out of a bowl. Finally, in January, the Republican candidate’s name was drawn, and the Republicans now maintain a very narrow majority in Virginia’s lower house.

Even if a blue wave occurs, Republican redistricting advantages have fortified many seats, making them more competitive than they should be in a toxic environment for their party. Imagine if this unimaginable president seeks to muddle the results of close counts in the midterms. He could claim that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin cooked the outcome; encourage defeated Republicans not to accept defeat; demand that friendly state chief election officials take their time in determining a winner based on whatever baseless, unsubstantiated theories the president advances.

What happens on Jan. 3, 2019, when in the throes of disorganization, the House attempts to organize itself? What if Trump refuses to recognize the election of a House Democratic majority or the selection of a Democratic Speaker? A lot of “what happens” and “what ifs.” But in this administration, what else is new?

Trump is a president badly in need of a foil in his presumed campaign for reelection. He could respond to every investigation, subpoena and act of Congress as the acts of an illegitimate, unelected Congress. Just as he refused to accept the number of votes he received in 2016, and just as he refused to accept the number of people who attended his inauguration in 2017, he can refuse to recognize the number of Democratic seats in 2019.

Prepare yourselves for two years of tweets about the “Fake Congress.”

  1. #1 by tonyfromindiana on 09/14/2018 - 9:34

    The Dems will gain seats in the House. Look at history. The Presidents party always loses seats in the House in the first Midterm election.

    History shows that the party in power losses seats…..

    Performances By A President’s Party In His First Midterm election

    2010 — Obama 45% approval – Lost 63 House, Lost 6 Senate
    1946 — Truman 33% approval — Lost 55 House, Lost 12 Senate
    1994 — Clinton 46% approval – Lost 54 House, Lost 8 Senate
    1974 — Ford 54% approval – Lost 48 House, Lost 4 Senate
    1966 — Johnson 44% approval – Lost 48 House, Lost 4 Senate
    1982 — Reagan 42% approval – Lost 26 House, Gained 1 Senate
    1954 — Eisenhower 61% approval – Lost 18 House, Lost 1 Senate
    1978 – Carter 49% approval – Lost 15 House, Lost 3 Senate
    1970 — Nixon 58% approval – Lost 12 House, Gained 1 Senate
    1990 — HW Bush 58% approval – Lost 8 House, Lost 1 Senate
    1962 — Kennedy 61% approval – Lost 4 House, Gained 2 Senate
    2002 — Bush 63% approval – Gained 8 House, Gained 1 Senate

    The GOP will use the pretext of the “Russia Hacking” argument and claim that votes were hacked when Dems gain seats in the House (which is possible by looking at history) and try to de-legitimatize those wins. Then, many of them will not concede (Roy Moore as an example).

    Politics, plain and simple

  2. #2 by Bill cANNBY on 09/14/2018 - 9:34

    But it was fine and dandy when Trump moved to make Jerusalem Israel’s capital?

    Some folks speak out of both sides of their mouth.

    ed note–than perhaps this is where we need to be focusing–WHY it is that someone who seemingly bends over backwards for them nevertheless is in their crosshairs.

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