Trump Coup Plotters Suggested Mike Pence Help Steal Election Like A Common Thomas Jefferson
No one with any knowledge of history or how human spines work would believe Mike Pence has anything in common with Thomas Jefferson. But Donald Trump's coup plotters openly compared the two when pressuring Pence to help steal the election for Trump.
According to journalist Jonathan Karl's upcoming book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, Jenna Ellis — one of Trump's “elite strike force" of lousy lawyers — sent a memo outlining a "multi-step strategy" for overturning the presidential election. On January 6, when Congress met to certify the electoral votes, Pence was supposed to reject the votes from six states Trump insisted he won, despite having lost those states repeatedly in recounts and lawsuits.
This would've exceeded Pence's authority as the guy who just opens the votes and announces the results. It would've been like an Oscars presenter not accepting the Best Actress winner and demanding the Academy make a better choice that involves Glenn Close.
Ellis's memo stated that Pence would give the states Trump lost a deadline of “7 p.m. eastern standard time on January 15" to send back new votes. This sounds more like a ransom note than any reasonable legal guidance, but Ellis didn't really expect the states to meet the arbitrary deadline. No, the states and their millions of American voters would just not count in the selection of their president. This is pocket dictator crap.
And yes, the Republican members of Congress who were elected on the same ballot, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, would keep their seats, because authoritarian power grabbers aren't known for their intellectual consistency.
Such a scenario would leave neither Biden nor Trump with a majority of votes, Ellis wrote, which would mean "Congress shall vote by state delegation" -- which, Ellis said, would in turn lead to Trump being declared the winner due to Republicans controlling the majority of state delegations with 26.
The day after Meadows sent Ellis' memo to Pence's aide, on Jan. 1, Trump aide John McEntee sent another memo to Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, titled, "Jefferson used his position as VP to win."
Now, that's some bullshit, so let's quickly discuss the presidential election of 1800. Vice President Thomas Jefferson was running against incumbent President John Adams, whose administration was eventually cancelled after one season. Aaron Burr was Jefferson's running mate, but there was a weird process where electors could vote for either one of the party's nominees. Burr and Jefferson wound up tied with 73 electoral votes.
This resulted in a "contingent election" in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation casting one vote. Neither Burr nor Jefferson could win a majority of the state delegations on the first 35 ballots. However, Alexander Hamilton threw his support to ideological mortal enemy Jefferson over Burr, who'd become his more literal mortal enemy. This was because Hamilton recognized that Burr was an amoral slimeball who'd do anything for power. He was Ted Cruz, but with some redeeming qualities. For instance, when Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel, he actually showed up with a gun himself. Cruz once bravely challenged Ron Perlman to a wrestling match with Jim Jordan.
Trump aide John McEntee, whom Karl describes as the "man who made January 6 possible," based his mad scheme on the 1800 election results from Georgia. The state's certificate of election was defective because it wasn't in the form of a "List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each," as the Constitution mandated. However, Jefferson accepted the results anyway, which was in his immediate interest as the state had gone to Jefferson and Burr, but it was clear that the electors had intended to cast their votes for Jefferson and Burr.
This is different from the Trump team's demand that Pence unilaterally dismiss the electoral vote from six states based on apparent "fraud," when the objective reality was that Trump had his ass beat. There's no comparison with Jefferson, who made a good-faith ruling when counting Georgia's votes. Pence wouldn't have rejected Georgia's electoral votes on a legal technicality. It would've been an anti-democratic denial of the people's will because voters had humiliated the mad MAGA king. The ghosts of Hugo Chavez or even Cesar Chavez didn't hack voting machines. Trump lost. Period. Trump's toadies tried to steal the election, and the true crime is that some of the people directly involved are still allowed to practice law.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."