I suppose by this point I’m not blogging about the “election” per se, but about the potential for “regime change” in a more generalized sense… But it still seems connected enough to the election to continue with the “Election 2020” moniker.
A few minutes ago Senator Schumer, who I suppose we could call the Majority Leader-in-waiting after yesterday, said “this President should not hold office one day longer,” saying that Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment and, failing that, Congress should re-convene to impeach Trump.
At least one Republican Congressmen, Adam Kinzinger from the Illinois 16th (a ‘downstate’ district but whose scope includes Rockford and DeKalb), has also openly called this morning for invocation of the 25th Amendment.
Shortly before 4am Eastern time, Congress officially completed the counting of the electoral votes, confirming Biden’s 306-232 victory over Trump. While no Senators signed on to House Republicans’ attempts to contest states like Georgia and Michigan, Senator Hawley did go through with contesting Pennsylvania, which is what led to such a late night. There were 7 senators who voted to contest the Pennsylvania results, with Senator Scott of Florida and newly-elected Senator Lummis of Wyoming joining the “sedition caucus” while Senator Kennedy of Louisiana sat the second protest out.
Minutes later, Trump released a statement that, to coin a phrase, was a “non-concession concession”:
Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.
Early this morning former Republican congressman turned MSNBC talk show host, Joe Scarborough, called for the immediate arrest of Trump, Guiliani, and Trump Jr. for their roles in yesterday’s D.C. rally to incite the insurrection on Capitol Hill.
Security forces regained control of the Capitol around the time that the 6pm curfew in D.C. was going into effect… Boy, that sounds like a line of dialogue from a dystopian movie, doesn’t it?
About three hours ago Congress resumed where it had left off several hours earlier, in the middle of a debate on whether to object to Arizona’s electoral college votes. In the end only 6 Senators voted in favor of the objection, with several apparently changing their mind in light of today’s insurrection. For the record, the six remaining members of the Senate’s “sedition caucus” are: three relatively prominent members in Cruz, Hawley, and Louisiana’s John Kennedy; two who just joined the Senate this week, namely Tuberville from Alabama and Marshall from Kansas; and Mississippi’s Hyde-Smith. The House is voting on the objection as I write this.
It is unclear whether or not there will be any further objections. The original gameplan for the day supposedly involved objections to as many as six states. I’ve heard suggestions that either Arizona will be it, or there will be an objection to Pennsylvania but then no more. Either way, it would appear that before Congress heads home for the night the electoral college votes will be formally counted.
The open question on everybody’s minds is, what happens tomorrow? There have been a wide variety of people arguing today that Pence and the Cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment, and/or Congress should impeach and remove Trump, as soon as possible. David Frum’s piece today in The Atlantic was entitled “Remove Trump Tonight;” there’s a piece in The Bulwark today by Rob Tracinski entitled “Impeach. Convict. Indict;” and Bill Kristol and George Conway have been on Twitter advocating for immediate impeachment. And these four individuals are, or more properly were, Republican thought leaders.
And, about half an hour after I wrote the last update, all hell started to break loose on Capitol Hill. Current headlines:
- CNN.com: “Mob invades US Capitol”
- Washington Post: “Pro-Trump mob storms Capitol building”
- New York Times: “Mob storms Capitol, inflamed by angry Trump speech”
- Wall Street Journal: “Pro-Trump mob forces way into Capitol; session halted”
- Fox News: “Guns drawn on House floor, McCarthy says he heard report of shots fired as lawmakers are evacuated”
- Newsmax: “Protestors storm US Capitol, reports of wounded as multiple shots fired”
Quoting New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt: “This has gone well beyond a political story. We don’t know where the vice president and speaker of the House have taken refuge. It’s unclear who controls the Capitol and there’s no clear plan for how the government will be able to wrest back control of it.”
We’re in for a long night…
Sometime this morning Ossoff declared victory over Perdue, although I don’t believe any major media organizations have yet called the race for Ossoff. His lead has not appreciably changed in the last several hours, and still sits a little below the 0.5% recount threshold, but there is still some vote to be counted and I’ve seen speculation that his margin will eventually exceed that threshold.
As we speak Congress is debating an objection raised to the electoral college votes of Arizona (alphabetically the first of the ‘swing states’). Current headlines from the New York Times include:
- “Pence rejects Trump’s pressure to block certification saying he ‘loves the Constitution.'”
- “Parts of Capitol Hill are evacuated as protesters flood the grounds.”
- “McConnell speaks out forcefully against push to overturn election.”
Trump addressed supporters in front of the White House, saying “we will never give up, we will never concede,” and referring to Biden as an “illegitimate” president.
There is new reporting today that Biden will name Merrick Garland as his Attorney General, which is a fascinating choice. Garland, of course, was famously nominated by Obama in 2016 to fill Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, and was supposed to be an easily-confirmable nominee, but the McConnell-controlled Senate never gave him a hearing and after Trump’s victory the seat went to Gorsuch. Now that Biden believes the Democrats will control the Senate, he can pluck the 68-year-old Garland off of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, install him in his Cabinet, and then get somebody younger and/or less moderate nominated to the D.C. Circuit in Garland’s place — somebody like 50-year-old Ketanji Jackson Brown, who might eventually be Biden’s first Supreme Court nominee. Whereas, if McConnell still controlled the Senate, he might have sought to block Biden from filling Garland’s seat, making a Garland Cabinet appointment less appealing.
In the wee hours of the morning, the major news organizations have called the Warnock-Loeffler race in favor of the Democrats. While I was sleeping Warnock’s margin has increased from 35K votes to 53K votes, putting him ahead by 1.2% (50.6 – 49.4).
The other race remains uncalled, but the lead has changed overnight: Ossoff is now ahead of Perdue by 16K votes, or 0.4% (50.2 – 49.8) — within the 0.5% margin at which the losing candidate can request a recount, but slightly ahead of Biden’s margin over Trump in November. Per the New York Times: “The remaining uncounted vote in Georgia appeared largely to be in Democratic-leaning counties in the Atlanta area, such as DeKalb and Fulton counties, as well as ballots from voters in the military and overseas.”
As such, things are looking rather good for the Democrats at this moment. Achieving a 50-50 tie in the Senate would allow Schumer to become Majority Leader in lieu of McConnell, and would give the Biden Administration a shot at actually being able to govern, without a solidly obstructionist Senate. I still wouldn’t expect to see transformative legislation passed in the 117th Congress, given the tenuous nature of the Democratic legislative majorities; as I saw one wag put it last night, Senator Manchin (D?-WV) is now the real Majority Leader, and I imagine as the most conservative Democratic Senator he will indeed have an outsized degree of influence on the legislative agenda. But, there’s a lot to be gained simply from Schumer’s ability to ensure that Biden’s Cabinet nominees, Biden’s judicial nominees, and any legislation adopted by the House can actually get a shot at moving forward in the Senate.
Later today attention will shift back to Capitol Hill for the joint meeting of Congress to open the Electoral College votes. There is reporting that Pence told Trump yesterday that “he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of [Biden]’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did.”
It has been an exciting night of result-watching in the Georgia Senate runoffs. At this point in time, with approximately 98% of the vote having been counted, Warnock has a 35K vote lead (50.6-49.4) over Loeffler, while Perdue has a 2K vote lead (50.0-50.0) over Ossoff. However the remaining vote outstanding is believed to largely be early vote from metropolitan Atlanta counties. The New York Times’ election forecast model believes strongly that both races will go Democratic. Right now Warnock’s lead is outside the recount threshold. Heading to bed for now, but there’s certainly cause for Democrats to be optimistic.
By now the polls have been closed in Georgia for an hour-and-a-half, so vote is coming in swiftly. Steve Kornacki on MSNBC has been focusing on looking at counties whose vote is reasonably complete, and comparing the Democratic Senate candidates’ margin against Biden’s margin in the general. Based on that metric, it feels to me like things are going well for both Democrats. But there is obviously still a long ways to go.
Interestingly to me, Warnock’s vote share relative to Ossoff’s has been pretty consistent over the past hour at +0.3%. That is rather less than I was expecting, but is consistent with the candidates’ relative performance in the final 538 polling averages. This suggests there is much less ticket-splitting (and/or Black voters not bothering to vote in the all-white race) than I might have expected.
The Senate runoff elections in Georgia are today, although over 3.0 million early votes have already been cast, down about 25% from the number of early votes cast in the Georgia general two months ago. Polling strikes me as being of even more limited value than usual when it comes to a special election, but for what it’s worth 538’s polling averages have Ossoff ahead of Perdue by 1.8% and Warnock ahead of Loeffler by 2.1%; in both cases this is a shift of about 1.5% to the Democrats since Christmas.
Yesterday’s news cycle continued to be dominated by the fallout from Saturday’s call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger. There were pockets of criticism towards Raffensperger for recording the call in the first place (although that appears to have perfectly legal under Georgia law) and then for arranging/condoning the recording’s leak to the press (which happened only after Trump’s Sunday morning tweet mischaracterizing the call, in response to which Raffensperger tweeted “the truth will come out”). However that has been dwarfed by criticism of Trump, including multiple suggestions that the call is grounds for impeachment, and calls for federal and/or state criminal investigations. What would be the point of impeaching a President whose term ends in 15 days? Because Article I of the Constitution allows the Senate to determine whether an impeached individual should be disqualified from holding any further federal “office of public trust”.
And then in addition to the Georgia election, we have the build-up towards tomorrow’s political theatre in Congress regarding the formal counting of the electoral votes. I believe that, since the original twelve members of what some have called the “sedition caucus” were announced over the weekend, the only other Senator to go on record as joining their ranks is Loeffler (and also Perdue, who doesn’t get to vote since his seat is now technically vacant). Signs of sanity in the Republican party were exhibited yesterday by ambitious Senator Tom Cotton, former speaker Paul Ryan, and pundit George Will, whose latest column‘s title is “Hawley, Cruz and their Senate cohort are the Constitution’s most dangerous domestic enemies”.