Today is November 23, 2020. It's twenty days after Election Day, and sixteen days after the Associated Press called the election for Joe Biden. And Trump still refuses to concede.
This is super weird. Usually, when it is clear that a presidential candidate has lost the election, they deliver a concession speech. The speech, though not a legal requirement, is a long standing tradition in America. It tells the losing candidate's supporters to stop fighting, and formally acknowledges the winner's legitimate win. The person giving the speech generally says things like, "Well, it's a bummer that we lost, but we need to get behind the new president and come together as a nation to face our challenges together. God bless America."
Trump, as we know, is not a guy who likes to honor tradition. (We still haven't seen the guy's taxes. And audits don't take four years, people.) So he has not given a concession speech. He still claims that the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. He's filed 35 lawsuits, and lost all but two. And the two he won only challenge only a very small number of votes in states where Biden has a huge lead. So it won't help Trump get enough votes to win that state's electoral college representatives.
So why does he keep filing lawsuits? One idea has been floated from multiple sources, but I heard it first from Neal Katyal, a Constitutional lawyer and partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. Katyal also has a series of short updates that he shows on instagram called, "Court Side". In this show, he discusses the litigation that Trump has filed since Election Day.
In one of these updates, he said that he had somehow gotten on an email list of Trump supporters (Katyal is not a Trump supporter). He has been receiving emails from Trump's campaign in recent weeks begging him for money to help fight the legal battles that Trump has been fighting since the election. But when Katyal read the fine print of the email, he saw that 60% of any money donated by Trump supporters would not be going to finance the legal fights at all - it would be going to pay for past campaign debts, to Trump's super PAC, or to the Republican National Committee.
And maybe Trump's also trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of his supporters to help pay for the lawsuits that will be coming once he is out of office. There seems to be enough evidence for the state of New York and for Manhattan to prosecute him for tax evasion. It also looks as though the state of New York is planning to prosecute Trump for campaign finance fraud for his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. And frankly, that could be another reason that Trump is so desperate to stay in office. So long as he is our president, he is protected from being prosecuted for crimes he has committed. But as soon as he is no longer our president, and reverts back to Donald Trump, private citizen, he is no longer protected from prosecution, and the state of New York and Manhattan can go ahead and prosecute him.
But whatever his reasons are for not conceding, the fact that he hasn't conceded is having real consequences for Biden's transition team. Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, is a Trump appointee who is in charge of this thing called ascertainment. This is a fancy way of saying that she is in charge of officially certifying that Biden won the election. Once she does this, Biden's team would get money for their transition, be able to hire people, and get daily briefings from the people in the Trump administration who handle foreign intelligence, which is information about other countries that we keep an eye on.
Worst of all, as long as Murphy refuses to confirm that Biden won the election, Biden's corona virus team is not allowed to meet with Trump's corona virus team. And they really need to meet. According to Anthony Fauci, it's crucial that there is a seamless transition between the two administrations. They need to share information about the virus, the vaccines, and the plan to vaccinate Americans. Lives are at stake. We're still in the middle of a pandemic, people!
So far, Murphy has refused to ascertain that Biden won. She seems to be waiting, to see how all of Trump's lawsuits play out. Which is ridiculous. But she probably feels like she needs to do this to show her support to Trump. And Republican leaders in the Senate aren't making her job any easier. Very few Republican senators have told the press that they think the election is over and Biden won. Most of them seem willing to pretend that Trump has a shot at winning the election, even when it's clear that he does not.
If you'd like to call Emily Murphy and pressure her to ascertain that Biden won, her phone number is (844) GSA-4111. Or better yet, send her a post card. Here is her mailing address:
General Services Administration
1800 F. Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20270-0016
Okay, lastly, I want to answer two questions my readers have been asking me lately about the fact that Trump refuses to concede. 1. What happens if Trump never concedes? 2. What happens if Trump refuses to leave the White House on January 20th, the day that Biden will be sworn in as our next president?
To answer question number 1, I reached out to Professor Lawrence Tribe, a Constitutional Law professor at Harvard Law School. Here's what he told me, "It doesn't make the slightest bit of difference legally whether he ever concedes or not. He could spend the rest of his life not conceding, and it doesn't matter. The next president will be sworn in on January 2oth at high noon. His concession or lack of it is constitutionally irrelevant."
Thanks, Professor Tribe!
So what happens if Trump refuses to leave the White House after Biden is inaugurated? This is where things get a little dark. On August 11th of this year, John Nagl and Paul Yingling, two retired United States Army officers, wrote an open letter to General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military. According to this open letter, "If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and [General Milley] must give that order. "
Also, according to the letter, Trump has created a private army for himself, and he might try to use that private army to fight the United States military if Trump refuses to leave the White House when his term is over. Who is this private army, you ask? It is the group of militarized Homeland Security Agents Trump created and sent to cities that were experiencing civil unrest during the Black Lives Matters protests over the summer. Do you remember hearing about guys wearing no uniform, driving unmarked vans, grabbing protesters and shoving them into their unmarked vans to take them to God knows where? That is the private army that they are talking about.
So, if Trump refuses to leave the White House, and locks himself in with his private army to defend his attempted coup, then it will be up to the United States military to remove Trump by force, and possibly shoot back at the private army that Trump might try to assemble around him.
I really hope it doesn't come to this. But 2020 has been a super weird year, and Trump has been a super weird president, so I just don't know. I guess we just have to wait and see.
But there are things we can do in the meantime. We can call Emily Murphy's office and tell her to just ascertain Biden as the winner already. Her number again is (844) GSA-4111.
We can also tell Republican senators that they should be telling Trump to concede. There are five Republican senators that have publicly said that Trump should just concede already. They are: Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake, Pat Toomey, and Lamar Alexander. The rest of them have either said nothing, or have said that we should just humor Trump while his lawsuits play out. The ones I would call first are Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, but really, you can call any of the other Republican senators you like. The United State Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. When you call them, you can remind them that we are in the middle of a pandemic, and Biden's team needs to at least meet with Trump's Covid team to talk about the transition. And that can't happen as long as Trump stonewalls the transition process, so they should tell Trump to concede.
Thank you in advance for all of your efforts. And if anything else big happens during this super weird aftermath, I will let you know.