We Are Not Out of the Woods Yet–Trump Could Still Foment a Coup

Donald Trump and his “elite strike force” have failed at overturning the Electoral College-certified election.

Every federal court to which Trump’s lawyers have brought legal challenges intended to steal Joe Biden’s victory has backfired.

So that’s it, right?

Joe Biden is going to be president in 24 days, and Donald Trump is best just wiling away his remaining time playing golf.

Before we breathe that collective sigh of relief, however, we must remember Donald Trump still refuses to concede.

While he isn’t required to do so, there is cause for concern.

Remember with whom we are dealing here.

Donald Trump is no statesman.

He does nothing without benefiting himself.

He is facing prison time for a slew of state and federal crimes, including tax, business, insurance, and election fraud.

Still president, he possesses the enormous power we entrusted him with four years ago.

He is capable of fomenting the coup d’etat he has been plotting.

His enablers are well aware of this, particularly the language in 12th Amendment, an arcane yet vital provision provision in the Constitution, that states:

“If no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”

Although cementing the Electoral College certification, Joe Biden awaits the final step in his ascendancy: the January 6 joint session of Congress when lawmakers on Capitol Hill accept the Electoral College outcome.

If they choose to.

It is there obsequious Trump-publicans can upend the whole election and constitutionally grant Trump another term.

There is already precedent for this.

It happened back in 1876.

It could happen again.

Probably more relevant is the 1887 Electoral Count Act (ECA), which reserves individual House and Senate members the right to submit challenges to any state’s electoral votes.

If this happens, the joint session must recess to allow each chamber time to meet separately for debate on the the objections’ merits, and the majority of each chamber’s member is required for objections to be sustained.

As Bill Blum reported in Alternet:

“It’s all but certain that when the joint session convenes on January 6, objections to the electoral votes cast in the swing states of Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania indeed will be lodged. Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, one of the zaniest of the GOP’s bloated stable of right-wing fanatics, has announced that he will file an objection. Alabama Republican Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, the thick-headed former college football coach, has suggested he will join Brooks.

Although a longshot since Democrats control the House and several Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have recognized Biden as president-elect, Trump has been reportedly entertaining suggestions to declare a national emergency under the Insurrection Act in order to invoke martial law, which would force a new election in swing states favorable to Trump.

Still a longshot, but not inconceivable, especially for someone so craven for power, he is willing to put his own personal aggrandisement over centuries of norms, policies, laws, and ethics.

We aren’t out of the woods yet.

The next month is going to be very interesting.

Image credit: Fabius Maximus

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.