Bombshell revelations about former President Donald Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 presidential election inspired conservative Washington Examiner columnist Quin Hillyer to examine why the American system was so vulnerable to what he described as a "ludicrous scheme" by the former president.
In Hillyer's opinion, the major reason Trump believed he could get Vice President Mike Pence to throw out certified electoral college votes from seven different states is because of ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act, which was first enacted in 1887.
In particular, he said that the ECA creates a "Rube Goldberg-like" legal mechanism that can be widely abused by opportunistic lawyers such as John Eastman, who encouraged Pence to reject the certified votes and then send the election back to state legislatures.
"The reason those remote possibilities existed even in Eastman's convoluted, theoretical form is that the ECA is so cumbersome and poorly written," argued Hillyer. "It is the ECA whose so-called "safe harbor" terms determined the disputed 2000 Bush-Gore presidential election, and it is the ECA that sets up a highly elaborate procedure describing how Congress should react if a dispute exists about the validity of each state's electoral slate. The Rube Goldberg-like interplay between the ECA and the 12th Amendment, and questions about the ECA's own constitutionality, are what create the muddle Eastman wanted to exploit."
Hillyer also elaborated the dire consequences that would occur if Pence had actually gone through with Trump and Eastman's plans.
"If Pence had acted upon the advice in the Eastman memo, the whole U.S. body politic might have come apart at the seams, creating weeks of Jan. 6-like riots instead of just one day," he wrote. "A single day was bad enough. The best way to avoid another like it is to write a law whose meaning we can count on."