American political analyst Don Debar reflects on efforts made by Donald Trump's team to challenge the election results, and Trump's prospects of running for president again in 2024, among other things.
Sputnik: Despite the Electoral College counting 306 votes in favour of Joe Biden, Donald Trump, who received 232, refuses to concede and continues his battle to overturn election results in several battleground states. The Trump campaign now seeks to overturn the Pennsylvania Election Results in the US Supreme Court. What can you say about the President’s strategy with regard to this? Will he eventually concede?
Don Debar: I think that's in 7 states now. First, I won't speculate as to the likelihood of success or not success on Trump's behalf, because it really can't be factored or calculated. The actions that he's brought to date, people have been keeping score as if it were a soccer match or a bowling match. It's not how litigation works or this type of litigation that is suing in a presidential election or a national election. It's very complex.
It involves really suing over fifty-three different elections, the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, etc., and all governed by state law. Different requirements in each state for both an administrative process through the Board of Elections or a Secretary of State's office. Then go to the state courts to litigate the state issues before you have something that's ripe for review at a federal level. You have a very short timeframe to file these, unlike in a lawsuit where if you slip and fall outside the supermarket and break your leg and sue, you have a year or two years to file to recover damages.
Here they have to place somebody in, you know, an office within months or weeks in some cases. And consequently, they can't wait for this extended period. So all of the deadlines and filing are very quick, including starting the lawsuit. Now, when you have a lawsuit with the complexity of monitoring the behaviour of tens of millions of people in 53 different jurisdictions by the government and thousands of government officials, it's a very difficult thing to get accomplished and reduced to a set of pleadings in three days, or two weeks or a month and a half, depending on the deadline you're trying to meet.
And sequencing this properly also - going to the proper administrative process first, before the state process, before the federal process - because a misstep in any one of those places will cause that particular action to be dismissed. That's what we've been seeing. And also, if the wrong party sued, for example, the state of Texas sued and the Supreme Court two weeks ago, that's where we saw that the case was dismissed because they said the state can't sue. Then the lawyers figured - "Oh, the president can sue." The president is the one who's aggrieved here, or the electors in that state who should be seated, but aren't - because of the, you know, illegal activity or whatever is being claimed. They're the ones who are aggrieved, and they have standing to sue. You have all these things to sort out in a very short period of time. So there's very legitimate grievances here; they changed completely the historical process for voting in the country with no forethought, and most of it was done outside of the law - that is, not done in accordance with the state constitution and/or state law in each of the states where this was done. And that is a federal requirement, that the election be conducted according to the procedures established by the state legislature. So they actually have a real grievance. 4-08
And the impact of that on the election could turn it. There are enough votes that were received in the manner that they're complaining about that could change the outcome of the election in these swing states and consequently the presidential election.
What will be the outcome? No one knows. Any one of those talking heads on MSNBC or CNN or for The New York Times or anywhere else that thinks they know what the outcome is going to be is lying because they don't know any more than you or I.
Sputnik: To what extent does this refusal to concede can create a pretext for his political agenda and campaign to run in 2024, as we’ve repeatedly seen reports of Trump’s intention to run for president again?
Don Debar: You know, he practically won the election here. He claims he won the election, whatever - that's going to be determined. He got more votes than any other incumbent president in history and more than any other candidate in history, except perhaps for Biden, depending on whether or not Biden's votes were all legal votes. So I'm guessing that he's poised to run again in 2024 if he's not elected. Now, he has said as much. He seems to be gearing up the machinery for that. And we'll see what happens, because certainly, they're going to try to take him down, as we've seen in Brazil and Argentina, in all these different places where the CIA plays around with the government, that the leading candidate of the left suddenly has legal problems when they're not in office and they try to keep them out of the political process by throwing them in jail.
They'll do the same to Trump. They're threatening to do it to him all the time. You've got the New York state attorney general, for example, who has been a point person on this. One day, she's not going to be in office. And I'm looking forward to the day when she gets served up with some papers, people looking into her past like we're talking about. Yes, but Trump is going to probably run if he's not reelected now. And you know, the thing is, if they're going to worry about him stepping on the Constitution, they should have worried about what he would do in 2024 if he is reelected in 2020. Because if he is so popular, that it is even a question in 2024 and it's not allowed under the Constitution - you know, that might be a place where he would say "You know what? Later for the Constitution, I'm going to run again. And if people want to vote for me, etс." That might be where their "coup" would take place. But in any event, I think that he's a likely candidate in 2024. And we'll see what happens.
Sputnik: How does the President’s rhetoric influence his support base? Can he somehow capitalise on the energy of his supporters in the next presidential bid?
Don Debar: You have to look at his rhetoric in the total context of public relations around Trump's presidency and his candidacy. Basically a massive carpet bombing of Trump in terms of public relations by the entire corporate and foundation media. I would say the entire media space, from Fox to Democracy Now and Pacifica Radio to The New York Post and Murdoch, whatever, all of them hostile to Trump.
And his basic defence has been tweeting. Now, with the kind of hostility he's faced, usually, every figure of any prominence whatsoever runs and hides under a rock within three days because their numbers get tanked all the way below zero and beyond. Trump has been enduring this now since 2015 or 2016, pretty much around the time that he said NATO was obsolete, and his numbers have grown rather than shrunk - and he's maintained the presidency, including in the face of the impeachment vote. So I think that if you consider what his rhetorical influence is on his support base, it's functional - it works. He's kept himself in the game by tweeting against the entire media in the U.S. and Europe and US allies in Asia.
Sputnik: In your view, how could this mobilisation of power affect the Republicans and his supporters, for example, in the mid-term elections? Can the Republicans’ weight in Congress be increased in the midterms?
Don Debar: We saw this in January. We saw in 2018. He is a kingmaker in the Republican Party. Ask Ted Cruz that question. Ted Cruz would not be in the Senate if Trump did not decide to come down and save him. And it was because Cruz was hostile to Trump. And those people that have been voting for Cruz and Republicans like the Bushes for many years in Texas were so enamoured of Trump. And it was so obvious that Cruz was in trouble because of the way he had treated Trump during the 2016 election, so he'll run that across the country. These people right now that are in the Republican legislatures, for example, in Pennsylvania and Georgia and Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, that are not stepping up affirmatively, are going to be facing, you know, hostile Republican voters two years from now when they try to get reelected. And likewise for the members of Congress in the House of Representatives and those Senators that are going to be running for reelection like a third of the Senate in 2022 also.
So it's going to be interesting to watch this with the first test. We're going to get to those two Senate seats in Georgia in a couple of weeks. So we'll see how that goes.
And the same is with respect to what kind of weight they have in Congress and for the midterms. I think that whatever happens with the presidential election is going to impact the midterms. Certainly, if Biden gets in on a claim of legitimacy that everyone accepts - which I think is almost impossible at this point - then perhaps he'll able to make some gains in the midterms. Otherwise, they almost always lose in the midterms. Otherwise, you almost always lose in the midterms. The party that wins the presidential election sees a retreat two years later. In this case, I think the Democrats could lose both houses of Congress, you know, so we'll see what happens with that.
Sputnik: We saw other people projected to be Republican candidates for the president – such as Nikki Haley, for example. To what extent can we indeed see other Republican candidates and post-Trump era?
Don Debar: It's ridiculous, I think, to speculate right now who would take Trump's place in the Republican Party because it's going to depend on the conditions surrounding his exit. You know, if he were to have a heart attack, for example, you know, while embracing, say, Nikki Haley or who knows who they would dig up, you know, people are going to be looking very closely at "Is this really an insurgent like Trump - is this really a rebel like Trump, or is this just another Republican who's wearing a Trump button to get my vote and they're going to take me back to the days of where I don't get anything that they promise me?" We're going to have to see if Trump exits the stage, it's going to be under what terms, under what conditions and what he's saying to his supporters because they'll stay mobilized as long as he asks them to. And they may well stay mobilized even if he asks them to not. So we'll see.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.