(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s attempts to reverse his electoral defeat sink further into incoherence.
On Saturday night, the Trump campaign called for a second count in Georgia, a day after top Republican state officials certified their defeat after a state audit. This time a machine will do it and is even less likely to reverse its fate. Hours before, a federal judge rejection the latest effort by the Trump campaign to disenfranchise millions of voters, this time in Pennsylvania.
Across the country, Trump attorneys and loyalists view his baseless allegations of systemic voter fraud treated with growing contempt by disbelieving judges. Even now, with a wave of certification deadlines On the verge of collapse, the president and his opportunistic facilitators inject doubt – and anxiety – whenever they can. However, returns appear to be declining. This time, it was Judge Matthew Brann, a Republican, who, rejecting a Trump-backed lawsuit, felt compelled to underscore, with a literary flourish, the absurdity of the campaign’s claims.
“This claim, like Frankenstein’s monster, has been joined at random from two different theories in an attempt to avoid the control of precedents”, Brann wrote. His decision prompted another Republican, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who will not run for reelection in 2022, to do the bare minimum to break ranks with party leaders and recognize Joe Biden as president-elect.
But even as Trump’s brazen attempt to subvert American democracy continues to make headlines, it is his appalling handling of the pandemic that appears poised to be etched more durably in the history books.
The United States surpassed 12 million coronavirus cases on Saturday, adding nearly 200,000 more to its staggering tally. Trump did not comment on the terrifying milestone. Rather, he spent part of the day playing golf.
It was just as good.
Trump’s petulance worsens the pain of the pandemic
When the incapable president speaks out about the pandemic, he only further undermines scattered efforts to contain it. That Trump did not attend a session focused on pandemic preparedness with world leaders at the virtual G20 meeting on Saturday came as no surprise. It is unlikely that they missed him. Meanwhile, states and cities in this country reported a record number of infections as hospitalizations rose, sounding alarms for the collapse of an overwhelmed healthcare system. And that’s before millions of Americans start their warned holiday travels before Thanksgiving this week.
More than 255,000 They are already dead, millions out of work, and the administration and its Republican allies in the Senate seem determined to deepen the desperation, while in the process undermining Biden’s efforts to right the ship when he takes control on January 20, next year. By blocking the Biden team’s access to sensitive government information, complicated operations like the distribution of a vaccine are likely to be delayed or made more cumbersome.
Some nine months after the coronavirus first took hold of the country, there is still no unified plan to combat it. And the measures taken by Congress to mitigate the pain are expiring. The expanded federal unemployment benefits that were extended as part of the $ 2 trillion package approved earlier this year will run out just after Christmas and affect some 12 millions of Americans. For now, there is little to suggest a revival of the negotiations on Capitol Hill, where Senate Republicans have refused to accept a new aid package approved by House Democrats and House Speaker Nancy. Pelosi rejected the possible piecemeal deals raised by the Republican Party in the race to election.
The effects of inaction in Washington, DC, are felt most acutely at the state and local levels, where even officials who acknowledge the scope of the crisis hesitate to take bold action and implement the kinds of drastic measures that have been shown to help slow down the spread of the virus.
“You close non-essential workplaces or indoor dining, you’re basically putting a bullet in them,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said Friday of the lack of federal aid, suggesting something just as a “two-week hiatus” is effectively out of the question without a capital increase from Capitol Hill.
Sara Nelson, the international president of the Flight Attendants Association-CWA, criticized Senate Republicans for their hesitancy to act, in contrast to the body’s relatively quick approval of the $ 2 trillion starter package. in March.
«With more than 12 million cases, more than a quarter of a million Americans dead, more than 60 million unemployment claims filed since March, 8 million people have been pushed into poverty and more than 100,000 businesses closed, the same The exact Senate has gone into recess without even the notion of hope for relief for Americans destined to die more likely from homelessness than from a raging pandemic, ”Nelson said. “Anyone who ponders politics makes inaction better explainable, just quit now and let essential patriotic workers take the reins.”
Even within the ranks of Congress, the number of covid cases is constantly increasing. This same week, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rick Scott of Florida tested positive. On Saturday night, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican campaigning ahead of a runoff for her seat, announced that she too tested positive, bringing the total count to more than three dozen lawmakers from both parties.
The twin covid crises and Trump’s undemocratic machinations collided over the past 48 hours, when two top Michigan Republican lawmakers walked out of a meeting at the White House declaring, once again, that they had not seen evidence to suggest that Biden didn’t win his state joust. Instead, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield apparently used at least some of their time with the president to deliver a letter asking for more federal aid to combat the virus.
“Michigan received funding months ago through the federal CARES Act, and we used those funds to quickly support frontline workers, improve testing, ensure proper personal protective equipment, provide additional support to Michigan workers without work and offer assistance to local businesses struggling through no fault of their own, ”Michigan Republicans said in a joint statement. “Once again we are faced with a time in our state where additional support would be of great help to the very residents who need our assistance.”
Trump retweeted the statement Saturday morning, but ignored the request for help and focused on injecting air into his deflated campaign to change the election.
“This is true, but very different from what the media is reporting,” Trump said. “We will show a massive and unprecedented fraud!”
But with a handful of state and local certification deadlines early next week, it has become clear that, as with so many other promises, Trump’s promise to reveal some kind of massive, coordinated fraud will never materialize.
Shortly before news of the shameful defeat of the Pennsylvania case began to spread, Trump retreated to more hospitable territory, the wild west of social media, to participate in a round of coronavirus “whataboutism”. He pointed to the cost of the pandemic in other countries and attacked the media for not reporting on the efficacy of emerging therapies.
“Fake news does not speak to the fact that ‘Covid’ is rampant around the world, not just in the United States,” he wrote, before presumably referring to part of the morning’s international summit in the who participated ». I was at the virtual meeting of the G-20 this morning and the most important topic was the covid. We will heal fast, especially with our vaccines! “
Those vaccines, while promising, are still months away from being available to millions of desperate Americans, tens of thousands of whom are expected to die before arriving.
Trump supporters rally to undermine Biden
Meanwhile, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury appears to be doing everything he can to deprive the distraught business community of a key lifeline. Thursday, Steve Mnuchin solicitous that the Federal Reserve returned some $ 455 billion in unspent funds so far that the central bank insists remains crucial to preventing further economic problems.
Mnuchin himself, in a letter to the Federal Reserve, acknowledged that the loan programs “clearly achieved their objective.” But it still demanded the return of nearly half a trillion dollars, a move that drew objections from corporate leaders – hardly a hotbed of anti-Trump resistance – and the Fed, which said it preferred “the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continues to play its important role in supporting our still tense and vulnerable economy.
The reasoning for the decision, some experts said, appeared to be an attempt to cripple the incoming administration.
“This appears to be a political move by the Trump team to limit what President-elect Joe Biden can do next year to boost the economy,” wrote Jaret Seiberg, financial services and housing policy analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, in a research note, “especially if Congress fails to pass a big stimulus.”
And with the balance of the next Senate currently at stake, with Democrats needing to sweep the January runoff elections in Georgia to win control, the prospects for a package large enough to meet the country’s needs are, in the uncertain at best.
So is Biden and his transition team, who remain locked out of the agencies he’s about to take on after the inauguration, and with no information that could help plan his way out of the current mess. Emily Murphy, Trump’s appointee who heads the General Services Administration, has given no indication of when, or if she plans to exercise her power to recognize Biden as the “apparent” winner, which would open up crucial lines of communication and leverage the president-elect team to millions of dollars in federal funds.
With Murphy out of concrete actions, Biden’s transition team is now looking for a crowdsourcing of cash for your efforts. On Friday, he sent a fundraising email to his followers as he weighs legal options.
“The nation faces too many challenges not to have a smooth and fully funded transition to prepare the president-elect and vice president-elect to govern on the first day,” a transition official told CNN.
But no amount of money can buy access to classified reports that are normally awarded within days to election winners. Biden, and the country, seem doomed to wait for Trump to put aside his wounded pride and give in to reality.
The waiting continues. The wave of death and despair does too.