(CNN) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday used the power of his office to tarnish America’s free and fair elections, firing the official who declared the vote had been the safest in the country’s history, even as more of his false claims of massive fraud were exposed as unfounded in the courts.
The vindictive firing, the president’s latest assault on the infrastructure of American democracy, comes as he refuses to accept his defeat and begin the process of transitioning from power to President-elect Joe Biden, a dead end that is especially dangerous in middle of the pandemic.
Trump wrote that he fired Chris Krebs, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security, for contradicting his own unfounded allegations of wrongdoing. The president, his campaign, and his political allies have made multiple efforts, beginning long before the elections, to falsely argue that a second term was stolen from him. His effort seems motivated by a desire to explain his clear defeat to the former vice president, but it is also part of a pattern of behavior designed to discredit the Biden presidency and enshrine national divisions that he consciously expanded as a tool of power.
In other apparent attempts to question the integrity of the election – unprecedented in modern history – Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, became embroiled in controversy after he called election officials in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia – three key states won by Biden – for questioning about mail ballot procedures, which generally favored Biden. And two Republicans broke with tradition in Michigan, another state where the Democratic candidate triumphed, by temporarily blocking the certification of elections in Wayne County, where Biden beat the president. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, later told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that officials relented and agreed to certify the vote.
The latest maneuvers by Trump and his allies came as more of the president’s risky legal challenges and unconvincing cases of alleged voter fraud were exposed in court.
The president’s most recent last-minute attempt to overturn the election result in one of the multiple states Biden won was resolved, this time in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Keystone’s top state court ruled that there was nothing in state law that required observers to stand 1.5 meters from where the vote was counted, as the Trump campaign had argued. The decision undermines the president’s claim that his supporters were unfairly discriminated against and that therefore the results in Pennsylvania, where Biden won by tens of thousands of votes, should be declared invalid.
In another separate case in Pennsylvania, Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, stepped in to lead a chaotic legal effort to try to prove that Democrats committed voter fraud on absentee ballots. Other judges have previously rejected such claims.
Another of Trump’s almost non-existent opportunities to change the electoral result defended by the conservative media also seemed to be closing.
An election audit in Georgia was expected to end on Wednesday prior to the official certification of the ballot on Friday. Officials said the results were largely following the original accounts that gave Biden the victory, further tarnishing Trump’s claims of widespread fraud.
Trump cancels Thanksgiving trip
As more and more states begin to certify their election results in the coming days, the already tiny basis for Trump and the White House to perpetuate the fiction that he won a second term will diminish further.
So far there is no indication that Republican state lawmakers in some key states are ready to fulfill the hopes of some conservative pundits that they will ignore the will of the voters and select pro-Trump delegations to the Electoral College.
Trump’s setbacks in his battle to reverse the results come as he has almost withdrawn from public view.
CNN’s White House team reported Tuesday that the increasingly lonely commander-in-chief, who once couldn’t bear to give up the limelight, is locked into a “bunker mentality.”
In no mood for the festivities, Trump has decided to forgo his regular Thanksgiving trip to his Mar-a-Lago hotel, administration officials told CNN, and has had no public engagements for days.
But even an outgoing and invisible president retains the power to change the world his successor will face. So Trump’s acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced Tuesday that thousands of soldiers will withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, as CNN’s Barbara Starr first reported the day before. The move drew a mixed reaction from the Capitol, but notably drew criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Another senior Republican senator, John Cornyn of Texas, issued a scathing statement on the move, saying it came without any real consultation with US allies, NATO or Congress and that it would reduce troops to “a potentially unstable and dangerous.
The decision served one of the president’s political goals, but will raise fears of a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also went against the advice of US commanders concerned about the strength of the democratic government in Kabul.
The redistribution announcement was just one of what is expected to be a series of aggressive measures by the president, possibly with moves in policy on Iran and China, and attempts to tie Biden’s hands when he is president. Trump’s use of his power to make such significant moves while refusing to explain them to the American people as he remains out of sight, and the impression that he is exacting revenge for a defeat he will not accept, will possibly further undermine his position. .
New fears about vaccine delays
The potential cost at home of the president’s stubbornness and the lack of approval of millions of dollars in transition funding, access to government agencies and briefings for Biden’s team is becoming increasingly clear.
The hugely encouraging news about the efficacy of covid-19 vaccines expected to be available to all Americans next year cannot hide the growing anxiety among medical experts over the failure to include the next administration in the program. .
The vaccination effort will be one of the most complicated logistics and public health endeavors in history. Any delay in the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine could result in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Growing desperation over the rising number of human victims from COVID-19 prompted several large US medical groups on Tuesday to call for cooperation between the outgoing and incoming administrations.
“All information on the capacity of the Strategic National Reserve, the assets of Operation Warp Speed and the plans for the dissemination of therapies and vaccines must be shared as quickly as possible to ensure that there is continuity in strategic planning so that there is no failure in our ability to care for patients, “said the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association in a joint letter to Trump.
In a sign of the complexity of the task ahead, a Government Accountability Office review of the Trump administration’s vaccine effort found several bottlenecks that could delay vaccine approval and distribution.
And the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been sidelined by the president, stressed that presidential transitions are vital.
“If there is not a smooth transition, the efforts that are being made at this time will not be optimized,” Fauci told CNN’s Jim Sciutto.
Trump’s negligence is having a devastating impact as COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record levels and the virus spreads through the Midwestern states and the Western Mountains, where Republican governors and voters accepted Trump’s downplay of the pandemic and contempt for masks and social distancing.
Biden, who has called Trump’s inability to relent and open a formal transition of power a “shame”, is continuing his efforts to prepare his administration. In Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, the former vice president consulted with US national security experts and former senior military officials. The group included retired General Stanley McChrystal, who resigned during the Obama administration after Rolling Stone magazine published comments criticizing the former vice president.
Biden said it would be preferable to have access to the intelligence reports that presidents-elect routinely enjoy. But you’re promoting an image of a commander-in-chief ready to get to work.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are still unwilling to confront the president for his refusal to allow a graceful transition. But there are increasing signs that the natural transfer of power, if not formally taking place, is underway.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio referred to Biden as president-elect this week. McConnell also graciously acknowledged the inevitability of what is to come.
“We are going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next,” McConnell said. “What we all say about it is, frankly, irrelevant.”
Even noticing such small rhetorical changes highlights the president’s flamboyant behavior and his own party’s willingness to confront him. But it is a sign that reality is also coming into focus.