What If Trump Refuses to Leave Office?
Indivisible & Rebecca Kheel / The Hill
(August 12, 2020) — My name is Sarah and I’m a co-founder and Chief Communications Officer here at Indivisible. I’m also the person who has been leading our work on preparing for a post-election crisis scenario where Trump loses the election but refuses to concede (read: the stuff nightmares are made of).
If you’ve been watching the news over the past few days, you know that while this scenario sounds like something out of a movie, it’s not at all far-fetched.
Not convinced? Here’s a sample of news stories from JUST YESTERDAY:
- On CNN, Chris Cillizza published an article headlined, “Donald Trump just straight-up admitted he is working to meddle in the election.”
- The Washington Post broke a report that Trump and the RNC are already preparing a legal strategy to get election results overturned.
- At a summit honoring the 19th Amendment, Hillary Clinton said, “I don’t want to scare people, but I want you to be prepared. I have every reason to believe that Trump is not going to go, you know, silently into the night if he loses. He’s going to try to confuse us, he’s going to try to bring all kinds of lawsuits.”
- And just today, President Obama said, “the thing I’m most worried about is … how do we protect the integrity of the election process? How do we make sure that people’s votes are counted?”
We won’t go silently into the night and let him win by default. So here at Indivisible we’re developing a plan to fight back, and you’re a big part of it.
Today, I want to give you a super transparent (and admittedly long) update on that work. But if you already know all this and want to skip the explanations, please do two things: 1) click here to sign up as a Protect the Results activist so you’re the first to know as news develops, and then 2) click here to donate to fund our election work, the Protect the Results campaign, and more. Otherwise keep reading.
Building a Coalition
Several weeks ago, with our partners at Stand Up America, we launched Protect the Results, a disaster-planning effort to prepare the people power we’ll need to mobilize in the event of a Trump-manufactured constitutional crisis in November. Since we launched, we’ve been working hard to build the coalition of grassroots organizations we’re going to need to respond.
Today, we’re up to 40 organizations that are ready to do this work with us — folks like MoveOn, United We Dream, Community Change Action, Color of Change, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Public Citizen, Women’s March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Working Families Party, Let America Vote, Supermajority, SEIU, Communication Workers of America, faith-based groups, and more. (And counting! Just this morning I was talking to another potential partner!)
Now, the real work begins. And it’s critical.
Recommendations from Experts
In June, through the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan group of political operatives, former government officials, and academics quietly met to game out what would happen if Trump refused to concede. You can read their full report here.
They found three things:
- The concept of election night is no longer accurate and indeed is dangerous.
- A determined campaign has the opportunity to contest the election into January 2021.
- The administrative transition process itself may be highly disrupted.
But here’s what’s most important for you to know from the report: these risks can be mitigated, and the worst outcomes of the exercises are far from a certainty. Specifically, the exercise found that “a show of numbers in the streets — and actions in the streets — may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome.”
Put another way: what happens in a post-election crisis scenario is largely dependent on the grassroots’ ability to mobilize. (That’s you!)
Protect the Results’ Work Ahead
Together with the Protect the Results coalition, and informed by folks like the Transition Integrity Project, National Task Force on Election Crises, and Protect Democracy, we’re working on three things:
Developing Mobilization Strategies. We’re taking the election crisis scenarios developed by experts and planning for the most likely outcomes and what the grassroots mobilization will need to look like nationwide in order to effectively respond.
Building Awareness and Recruiting for Grassroots Turnout. Through earned and paid media and massive digital organizing work, informed by messaging from our partners, we’re working hard to get the word out there, encouraging folks to sign up at ProtectTheResults.com, and eventually asking grassroots leaders to commit to hosting an event on our (coming soon!) map so that we’re ready the moment that disaster strikes.
Preparing for Mobilizations Across the Country. Finally, through coordination with election security experts, legal scholars, and our coalition, we’ll work to make sure you have the information you need to show up and take informed mass action in the event of a break-glass moment. Click here to sign up to be on the list of activists preparing mobilizations.
Funding the Project
The truth is that all of this work costs money. We’re running digital ads, we’re creating digital assets for groups and activists, we’re briefing reporters, and we’re building out the digital infrastructure and trainings that we’re going to need the moment the polls close on November 3rd. All told, if we need to do this work, we’re budgeting over $1.2 million between the ad buys, digital and data tools, staff time and expertise, event costs, and more that we’ll need for our response. And we need your help to make it possible.
Please make sure that you go to ProtectTheResults.com and sign up to get involved. If you’re interested in anchoring one of the (many) events we’ll need after the election, check the box about hosting an event and we’ll follow-up with you with more guidance.
I know that this is a lot on top of the work that we’re all doing to take back the Senate and win the White House this November. I hope you know that I mean it when I say that I am really proud to be in this fight with you.
In solidarity, Sarah
Indivisible Action, PO Box 43135, Washington, DC 20010
Pentagon Dismisses ‘Unserious’ Debate over Potential Military Involvement in Any Post-election Dispute
(August 13, 2020) — The Pentagon on Thursday dismissed talk of potential military involvement in any post-election dispute, calling the debate “unserious thought.”
“We have a Constitution, and our Constitution, which all members of the military have sworn an oath to, provides no role for the US military as arbiter of political or election disputes,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a press briefing.
“This issue appears to be borne of unserious thought reflecting a fundamental lack of appreciation for the history of our democracy and the civilian-military relationship established under our Constitution,” he added.
Pressed further if the military was prepared to provide support to civilian authorities in the event of post-election unrest, Hoffman called the scenario “hypothetical” and referred back to his previous comment.
Hoffman’s comments come after a debate was sparked this week by two retired Army officers who wrote an open letter to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley saying he must order the military to remove President Trump from office if he loses in November and refuses to leave.
“If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order,” John Nagl and Paul Yingling wrote in the open letter published by Defense One on Tuesday.
That prompted op-eds, tweets and other pushback calling the letter dangerously irresponsible and arguing civilian authorities, including the courts and federal law enforcement, would be responsible in the unprecedented event that Trump does not accept the election results.
Trump has raised the prospect that he won’t accept the results in November, claiming that mail-in voting could lead to widespread voter fraud despite no supporting evidence.
“I have to see,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris Wallace last month when asked if he would accept the Election Day results. “No, I’m not just going to say yes, I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
In June, Trump said he’d peacefully leave the White House if he’s defeated, saying he would “go on, do other things.”
“I promise, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch,” Biden said on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”
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