Trump is planning a 'dangerous attack on American democracy' — and the Supreme Court is the last puzzle piece: columnist
President Donald Trump speaking to reporters outside the White House (screengrab)

On Wednesday, writing for The New Yorker, columnist John Cassidy tore into Trump's unconcealed plan to try to overturn the election before it has even taken place.

"Before Trump flew to Pittsburgh for a super-spreader campaign rally, a pool reporter asked the President how he reacted to Democratic claims that going ahead with the appointment of a new Justice would tear the country apart," wrote Cassidy. "'Oh, I don’t think so,' Trump said. 'We need nine Justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else.'"

"The ballots Trump was referring to are mail-in forms that many states, including key battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, are using this year to make it easier and safer for people to vote during the coronavirus pandemic," wrote Cassidy. "The President has clearly been laying the groundwork for a legal challenge if the election goes against him, and he’s now confirmed that he expects the Supreme Court to play a key role."

Moreover, wrote Cassidy, "As Trump has been escalating his verbal assault, Republican lawyers in a number of states have already sought to challenge, or halt, mail-in voting procedures—thereby establishing a legal basis for subsequent challenges after November 3rd." Recent reports have suggested that Trump could appear to lead in states he will not carry thanks to delays in tallying ballots — and that Trump could seize on this to try to have ballots thrown out, or even lean on GOP-controlled state legislatures to override electors.

"Any attempt by Trump and the Republicans to reverse the election results and finagle their way to victory would likely escalate into a constitutional crisis. While any initial rulings would be made at the local level, one or more of the cases could well end up in the Supreme Court," wrote Cassidy. "Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Friday, there is now a 5–3 conservative majority on the Court. Evidently, Trump doesn’t think this margin is sufficient to wait until after the election for a vote on a ninth Justice. Perhaps he is worried that Chief Justice John Roberts, in a last-gasp effort to protect the reputation and independence of the Court, could join the liberal Justices and rule against him. Perhaps he doesn’t want to take the risk."

"In any case, the inner workings of Trump’s mind aren’t of much consequence. As the President, what matters are his words and actions," concluded Cassidy. "Right now, he is launching a dangerous attack on U.S. democracy ... And despite a couple of objections from individual Republican senators, his party, the Party of Lincoln, is overwhelmingly behind him."

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