He saved his worst for last. It’s stunning that an American president’s actions could draw comparisons to a Mafia don. But in blatantly strong-arming Georgia’s top election official in a bid to change the vote count, Donald Trump has done just that, plunging to a new nadir.
His being caught on tape trying to overthrow democracy could have far-reaching consequences for his legacy, his legal standing, his Republican Party and, most immediately, for two runoff elections in Georgia Tuesday that will determine which party controls the Senate. The revelation of the President’s thuggery tips the scales clearly in favour of the Democrats.
Egomaniacs can’t accept defeat. Mr. Trump couldn’t go out with dignity, an alien concept for him. Burdened by his narcissism, ensconced in his delusional world, he could only continue to wreak havoc on the republic in a hopeless quest to reverse the election result.
As revealed by the Washington Post, he told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a call Saturday to “find” enough votes to overturn the verdict. By “find” it sounded like he was telling him to use any means possible. At another point he told him to “re-examine” the result “with people that want to find answers.” He went further, actually threatening Mr. Raffensperger by telling him he wasn’t reporting accurate election results and “that’s a criminal offence, and you can’t let that happen.”
Richard Nixon’s Waterloo came with the release of audio recordings. David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents including Mr. Nixon, says what Mr. Trump has done is “worse in many ways” than Mr. Nixon’s criminality.
While it may be a watershed moment, as Mr. Gergen called it, caveats are always in order with Mr. Trump given his remarkable record of getting out of jams. For any other president, news of such a phone call would be absolutely shocking. For him, not so much. So steeped in ignominy is his record that his supporters might shrug it off as they have so much else.
We’ll soon find out. The Democrats appeared to have some momentum heading into the two Georgia runoff elections. The phone call can only add to it. Surely, more undecided voters will now come the Democrats’ way. Surely, many moderate Republicans, disgusted by the latest evidence of corruption, will not turn up to vote. Surely, it would seem the Democrats can win the two races, thereby gaining control of the Senate chamber, which is critical to the viability of president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda.
If not, if the Trump Republicans don’t go down like a shot dog in Georgia after this, what a pathetic statement it will be on how American standards have fallen.
The Raffensperger call in combination with a defeat Tuesday could damage the Trump brand to the extent that he will no longer control the Republican Party. Although they won’t say it out loud, for many Republicans this would be a salubrious outcome.
Legal scholars were divided on whether the call was serious enough to merit charges of election tampering, which could be brought by the Peach State or federally by Mr. Biden’s incoming attorney-general. Mr. Trump already faces legal jeopardy in the state of New York, where he is being investigated for fraud.
The phone call was further evidence Mr. Trump is incapable of changing his ways. He obviously didn’t learn anything from what happened in 2019 when he got caught pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to undertake an investigation to dig up dirt on Mr. Biden. He threatened to withhold military aid if he didn’t. The call led to his impeachment in the House of Representatives.
Fearing there is no telling what Mr. Trump will do, fearing he may even use the armed forces to stay in power, all 10 of the living former defence secretaries went to the extreme of placing an article in the Post on Sunday saying the election results are valid and should not be challenged.
Mr. Trump’s latest dereliction is so serious even his wind-up apologists in the media were have difficulty defending him.
His leaving office on such a disreputable note will be viewed by many as a blessing, a worthy comeuppance that clears the path for a cleansing. It will set the stage for new president Biden in his Inauguration Day address to invoke a line similar to that of Gerald Ford’s when he took over from Mr. Nixon in 1974.
“My fellow Americans. Our long national nightmare is over.”
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