Trumpism 🐘 Newsbites
Obama's solicitor general said Trump talked 'like a mafia boss, and not a particularly smart mafia boss' one in his call with Georgia's elections chief
  • Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama's former acting solicitor general, said President Donald Trump talked "like a mafia boss" during his leaked call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
  • On Sunday, The Washington Post published audio of a call in which Trump asked Raffensperger to "find" 11,780 votes so that the state's election result could be overturned.
  • "There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you've recalculated," Trump told Raffensperger, according to the audio.
  • Katyal told MSNBC on Sunday: "This is the way that people in organized crime rings talk."
Appearing on MSNBC on Sunday, Katyal said: "It sounds like Donald Trump is talking like a mafia boss, and not a particularly smart mafia boss at that. This is the way that people in organized crime rings talk."

"You know, maybe that works in the Soviet Union or something. It certainly hasn't been the way that America, the American government has operated."

Katyal went on to say that the president's demands were "truly an impeachable offense," a characterization echoed by a number of other Democratic Party figures.

"I absolutely think it's an impeachable offence," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday, with Rep. Hank Johnson also saying that Trump's conduct was "a violation of state and federal law."

Speaking on Sunday, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called the phone call "a bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States."

Carl Bernstein says Trump's call asking a Georgia official to help him overturn Biden's win is 'worse than Watergate'
  • Carl Bernstein, whose reporting on Watergate led to Richard Nixon's resignation, appeared on CNN Sunday to discuss a call between President Trump and the Georgia secretary of state.
  • Trump asked Brad Raffensperger Georgia to "find" more votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win of the state.
  • Comparing his evidence against Nixon to the new audio, Bernstein said Trump's call was "far worse" and "the ultimate smoking gun."
  • He said that "in any other presidency" it would be enough to bring about impeachment.
Carl Bernstein, who helped expose President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal, says President Donald Trump's attempts to pressure a Georgia official to overturn the presidential election is "far worse."

... During an appearance on CNN on Sunday, Bernstein was asked if the tape gave him dΓ©jΓ  vu from Watergate — in which it was revealed that President Nixon ordered a break-in to steal campaign secrets from the Democratic National Committee's headquarters.

"It's not dΓ©jΓ  vu. This is something far worse than occured in Watergate," Bernstein said.

Bernstein described the tape as "the ultimate smoking gun" that shows what Trump "is willing to do to undermine the electoral system and illegally, improperly, and immorally try to instigate a coup."

"In any other presidency, this tape would be evidence enough to result in the impeachment of the President of the United States, his conviction in the Senate of the United States, and really an immediate call by the members of Congress — including of his own party — that he resign immediately.

"That's really what we ought to be hearing at the moment." ... Bernstein said it was unlikely that Republicans would turn on Trump over the news, and said that was one of the biggest contrasts to Watergate. "The one thing we should recall from Watergate is that the heroes of Watergate were Republicans who would not tolerate Richard Nixon's conduct," Bernstein said.

Democratic lawmakers call for Trump to be impeached for pressuring Georgia's Secretary of State to 'find' enough votes to overturn the election
  • Democratic lawmakers are calling for President Trump to be impeached after he asked Georgia's secretary of state to 'find' extra votes to declare him the election winner in the state.
  • A leaked hour-long recording of the call was published by the Washington Post on Sunday.
  • Neal Katyal, who was an acting solicitor general under President Obama, said he believed Trump's actions on the phone call were "really, truly an impeachable offense."
  • ice President-elect Kamala Harris said Trump's behaviour was "a bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president."
Omar tweeted: "This is clearly an impeachable offense and I believe there is nothing under the law giving Trump immunity from criminal process and indictment for this conduct."

Per Axios, Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Sunday: "I absolutely think it's an impeachable offense, and if it was up to me, there would be articles on the floor quite quickly."

... During the call, President Trump can be heard sharing unsubstantiated theories about election fraud and telling Raffensperger: "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state."

President-elect Joe Biden won the vote in Georgia by nearly 13,000 votes, winning a total of 306 electoral college votes to defeat Trump, who won 232.

Raffensperger can be heard in the phone call telling Trump that his claims that he won Georgia are based on inaccurate data. "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong," he said at one point in the call.

Trump has already been impeached once by the House of Representatives in 2019, when he was subsequently acquitted by the Senate, and no president has ever been impeached twice.

... "So one question is whether or not a high crime and misdemeanor was committed," Katyal told MSNBC on Sunday. "Certainly the tape makes it sound like it has."

He said that Trump also appeared to have committed breached a criminal law that prohibits federal officials from interfering in a state election process, and called for the Department for Justice to launch an investigation.

Other Democrats have also criticised Trump's behaviour. Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the lead investigators in the first impeachment inquiry against President Trump, said of the recording: "Trump's contempt for democracy is laid bare. Once again. On tape. Pressuring an election official to "find" the votes so he can win is potentially criminal, And another flagrant abuse of power by a corrupt man who would be a despot, if we allowed him. We will not."

Rep. Don Beyer tweeted: "Trump is on tape threatening elected officials like a cheap gangster – trying to get them to commit massive, criminal election fraud – and Republicans in Congress want to keep him in power by overturning the vote of the American people. They are absolutely complicit here."

Trump reportedly tried calling Georgia's secretary of state 18 times before finally getting him on the phone to pressure him to 'find' 11,780 votes
  • The White House attempted to call Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 18 times before finally getting him on the phone for President Donald Trump to pressure him to overturn the election, CNN and NBC reported.
  • Trump urged Raffensperger to "find" him 11,780 votes during the roughly one-hour call on Saturday, per the Washington Post.
  • The conversation has sparked calls from congressional Democrats for a criminal probe into Trump.
The White House attempted to call Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 18 times before President Donald Trump's now infamous call with him on Saturday afternoon, according to reporting from CNN and NBC.

... Raffensperger on Monday suggested that Trump could face a criminal inquiry from the Fulton County district attorney over the call, which has sparked bipartisan backlash in Washington, DC. Two House Democrats, Reps. Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice, are also pushing for FBI Director Christopher Wray to "open an immediate criminal investigation" into Trump.

In an interview with ABC News, Raffensperger said the data Trump peppered him with during the phone call, which lasted roughly one hour, is "just plain wrong."

With just 16 days left in office, Trump has still refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden as he continues to push the groundless assertion that he lost due to mass voter fraud.

Trump's sad implosion is a good sign for Biden's agenda
  • As Joe Biden prepares to take office, Democrats are united and Republicans are arguing bitterly with each other.
  • Trump's last desperate ploy to retain power — and the infighting it has caused within the Republican party — has strengthened Biden's governing position as he prepares to take office.
  • Trump's grip on his own political party is waning, and will be even weaker once he leaves office.
  • Mitch McConnell has also shown his own grasp over his caucus to be weaker than understood.
  • When your side is united and the other side is in disarray, that's good for you.
In the last two weeks, the president had his veto overridden for the first time in his presidency. He threatened to block the bipartisan COVID relief and omnibus spending packages — the former negotiated by his own Treasury secretary — and then caved and signed them into law, having received no substantive concessions.

And now, Trump's latest push to reverse the results of the election he lost has led to bitter infighting in his own political party. Some Republicans have heeded his call to object to the counting of electoral votes from swing states, and others have loudly denounced the move as pointless and anti-democratic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell worked desperately, but unsuccessfully, to stop this ploy that would force his members to go on record either rejecting democracy or opposing President Trump. Instead, the party will fight over its commitment to Trump in an extremely public way.

Republican Senators who oppose efforts to interfere with the vote count have not minced words about members of their caucus who plan to object to the Electoral College certification.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said the "egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic." Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said it "directly undermines" the "right of the people to elect their own leaders." Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse called the senators intending to object "institutional arsonists." ... Over the next four years, I'm sure Trump will be shouting from the sidelines, urging Republicans to promote whatever he considers to be his current interests. But what we've seen this week is that, with less power, Trump goes from the unifying force holding the party together to a costly and divisive distraction. That intraparty division will only make it harder to keep Republicans united against Biden's agenda.

Former Sen. John Danforth criticizes Josh Hawley's challenge of the 2020 presidential election as 'radical' and 'the opposite of conservative'
  • Former Republican Sen. John Danforth on Monday slammed Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley's efforts to contest the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential race.
  • "Lending credence to Trump's false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government," Danforth said in a statement. "It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical."
  • Hawley was the first GOP senator to publicly announce his intentions to challenge the Electoral College certification, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and several other Republican lawmakers following his lead.
"Lending credence to Trump's false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government," Danforth said in a statement. "It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical. As one friend asked me, 'What are my grandchildren to think of America if they are told that elections are fraudulent?'"

Danforth, who represented Missouri in the Senate from 1976 to 1995, was a pivotal figure in Hawley's successful 2018 Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, leading an effort to get Hawley to enter the race when he was still a newly-elected Missouri state attorney general.

... Danforth, who decided to speak out after receiving inquiries regarding Hawley's actions, concluded his statement by emphasizing the need for national unity in the wake of rampant election disinformation.

"At a time of extreme polarization the populist strategy is to drive America even farther apart by promoting conspiracy theories and stoking grievances," he said. "We must reject this strategy and reclaim America's historic purpose of holding our diverse nation together as one people."

Georgia election officials receive requests for investigations into Trump’s call, but haven’t started any yet.
Georgia elections officials have received at least two requests for investigations into whether President Trump violated state laws prohibiting election interference in his phone call Saturday with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. But as of early Monday afternoon, it appeared no such investigation had been opened.

On Sunday evening, the lone Democrat on Georgia’s five-member state elections board wrote a letter to Mr. Raffensperger requesting that his office open an investigation to determine whether Mr. Trump had violated state law.

Then, on Monday, the state board of elections received a complaint from John F. Banzhaf III, a law professor at George Washington University. Mr. Banzhaf also requested an investigation, citing three specific state statutes dealing with the commission of election fraud and interference with state officials’ performance of election duties.

Mr. Raffensperger, as secretary of state, serves as chair of the five-person state elections board, and in many cases, investigators in his office would start an investigation based on such complaints.

... Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, has not yet opened an investigation, said Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Ms. Willis and the incoming deputy district attorney. Mr. DiSantis said that his office had not yet received a formal notification from Mr. Raffensperger that he wished to hand off the decision. Mr. DiSantis noted that the office of the state attorney general, Christopher M. Carr, might also have jurisdiction over such a matter.

Mr. Carr’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

In a prepared statement, Ms. Willis said that she found Mr. Trump’s conversation with the secretary of state “disturbing.”

“Once the investigation is complete, this matter, like all matters, will be handled by our office based on the facts and the law,” she said.

An Insurgency From Inside the Oval Office
President Trump’s effort to overturn the election he lost has gone beyond mere venting of grievances at the risk of damaging the very American democracy he is charged with defending.

President Trump’s relentless effort to overturn the result of the election that he lost has become the most serious stress test of American democracy in generations, one led not by outside revolutionaries intent on bringing down the system but by the very leader charged with defending it.

In the 220 years since a defeated John Adams turned over the White House to his rival, firmly establishing the peaceful transfer of authority as a bedrock principle, no sitting president who lost an election has tried to hang onto power by rejecting the Electoral College and subverting the will of the voters — until now. It is a scenario at once utterly unthinkable and yet feared since the beginning of Mr. Trump’s tenure.

The president has gone well beyond simply venting his grievances or creating a face-saving narrative to explain away a loss, as advisers privately suggested he was doing in the days after the Nov. 3 vote. Instead, he has stretched or crossed the boundaries of tradition, propriety and perhaps the law to find any way he can to cling to office beyond his term that expires in two weeks. That he is almost certain to fail and that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be inaugurated on Jan. 20 does not mitigate the damage he is doing to democracy by undermining public faith in the electoral system.

Mr. Trump’s hourlong telephone call over the weekend with Georgia’s chief election official, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” enough votes to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in that state only brought into stark relief what the president has been doing for weeks. He has called the Republican governors of Georgia and Arizona to get them to intervene. He has summoned Michigan’s Republican Legislature leaders to the White House to pressure them to change their state’s results. He called the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House multiple times seeking help to reverse the outcome there.

Mr. Trump and his staff have floated the idea of delaying Mr. Biden’s inauguration, even though it is set in stone by the Constitution, and the president met with a former adviser who has publicly urged him to declare martial law to “rerun” the election in states he lost. Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior has so alarmed military commanders who fear he might try to use troops to stay in the White House that every living former defense secretary — including two he appointed himself — issued a warning against the armed forces becoming involved.

Undaunted, the president has encouraged Vice President Mike Pence and congressional allies to do anything they can to block the final formal declaration of Mr. Biden’s victory when Congress meets on Wednesday, seeking to turn what has historically been a ceremonial moment into a last-ditch showdown over the election. The idea has disturbed even many senior Republicans and it is guaranteed to fall short, much to the president’s frustration.

... But Mr. Trump’s efforts ring familiar to many who have studied authoritarian regimes in countries around the world, like those run by President Vladimir V. Putin in Russia and Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary.

“Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, and his pressure tactics to that end with Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, are an example of how authoritarianism works in the 21st century,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the author of “Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present.” “Today’s leaders come in through elections and then manipulate elections to stay in office — until they get enough power to force the hand of legislative bodies to keep them there indefinitely, as Putin and Orban have done.”

... Mr. Trump’s fidelity to the concept of American democracy has long been debated. From the earliest days of his campaign for the White House, critics suggested that he harbored autocratic tendencies that raised questions about whether he would eventually subvert democracy or seek to stay in power even if he lost, questions that grew loud enough that he felt compelled to respond. “There is nobody less of a fascist than Donald Trump,” he insisted in 2016.

But Mr. Trump did little to disabuse those fears in subsequent years. He expressed admiration for strongmen like Mr. Putin, Mr. Orban, President Xi Jinping of China and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, evincing envy of their ability to act decisively without the checks of a democratic government. He asserted at various points that the Constitution “allows me to do whatever I want” with the special counsel investigating him and that his “authority is total” to order states to follow his wishes.

He sought to turn government agencies into instruments of political power, pressuring the Justice Department to prosecute his enemies and go easy on his friends. He made expansive use of executive orders that courts at times ruled went too far. He was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House in 2019 for abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to help him sully Mr. Biden’s reputation although he was later acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.