Good Friday Morning, and I hope you and your family having a fun and blessed week leading into Thanksgiving. On a programming note, I won’t be writing next week due to Thanksgiving. Back in September, I wrote a column about how 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving in the New World. The first recorded instance of Thanksgiving occurred the following year, so the 400th anniversary of Thanksgiving itself will fall next year.
Abraham Lincoln set the official modern precedent with regards to Thanksgiving. In his famous 1863 proclamation, he ended it by saying:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
It’s hard to beat those words, so I won’t try. In this week’s newsletter, I go through the latest developments around the Trump campaign’s attempts to sue themselves to victory. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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The second COVID-19 wave of threats to public health and liberty – The Conservative Institute.
2020: The Year of the Diverse Republican Coalition – The Conservative Institute.
Where’s the beef on Trump’s allegations?
When I was recording the podcast this past weekend, I spoke something that I knew, in the moment, was likely wrong. I said that episode would probably be the last time I talked about the election simply because nothing new was happening. How dumb was that?
Because here I am, wading into another edition of this “news”-letter, and here we are talking about the legitimacy of Trump’s chances of winning a legal battle to secure the White House. Last week, I told you the most important thing was to distinguish between the signal and the noise on these sorts of topics. If Trump is to have a shot at litigating his way to victory, we need to know what claims are real or noise to discard.
The key to distinguishing the two is the Trump campaign arguing in court versus what is only said in press conferences or cable television. Put another way: what are you willing to say under the threat of perjury versus a press conference where nothing matters?
Let me answer the question I’ve gotten about a half-dozen times over the last 24 hours: Yes, I am well aware of the nearly two-hour-long Rudy Guiliani press conference with big-shot lawyers on Trump’s team like Lin Wood and more. I know all the allegations and the evidence they claim to have on how the election was stolen. I understand that the President has tweeted multiple allegations himself.
Before jumping back into this, let’s revisit some new fact checks, again relying mostly on conservative outlets:
- A roundup of fact-checks from the Dispatch on Dominion Voting software.
- Last week’s newsletter full of fact checks.
- Sean Hannity’s false claims on Dominion software are causing vote errors. – The Dispatch.
- Did a Postal Worker Witness Ballot Tampering in Pennsylvania? A man who appeared in a Project Veritas video has changed his story several times. – The Dispatch.
- Was a Biden Staffer Arrested for Voter Fraud? No. A viral social media post claims to show a photo of a Biden staffer under arrest for voter fraud. – The Dispatch.
- Rage Against the Voting Machine: Trump blames the result on Dominion’s systems. Where’s the evidence? – The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.
Now, if that’s the fake news, what do we know?
- The Georgia hand recount discovered approximately 2,600 new ballots that were not counted in the original tally. Once tallied, those votes narrowed but did not eliminate Joe Biden’s lead. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Georgia also discovered approximately 3,300 votes on a memory card that had not gotten loaded into the vote-counting system. That error was remedied along with the 2,600 ballots above (nearly 6,000 in total)—the AJC.
- The Republicans in charge of the Georgia recount fired the Floyd County elections commission person after these failures. The AJC.
- According to the state Secretary of State, Georgia finished its hand recount of approximately 5 million ballots late Thursday. Joe Biden holds a lead of 12,284 votes. Before the recount, Biden had a margin of a little over 14,000. No discrepancies were found due to any voting software of any company. Certification now goes to the Secretary of State, who is required under law to make that certification decision on Friday, November 19th. – The Wall Street Journal.
- Attorney Lin Wood filed a lawsuit in Georgia trying to delay the certification of the vote. It was thrown out of court. Wood didn’t have the standing to sue, and the Trump campaign was not part of the lawsuit (which was part of the problem, Wood was doing this without any evidence she suffered any harm). WSBTV (Local Atlanta station).
- The Trump campaign withdrew its lawsuit in Michigan (mentioned in last week’s newsletter). Andy McCarthy, a lawyer and writer at National Review has a good rundown on why that happened.
- The Trump campaign narrowed the scope of its lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The removed allegations involving wide-spread fraud and now are only focused on a small set of improperly cured ballots. National Review.
- The Trump campaign has already dropped litigation in Arizona, giving up on changing anything in that state. The WSJ.
- Trump has asked for two counties in Wisconsin to go for a recount, putting down $3 million to pay for the enterprise. The recount will cover approximately 800,000 votes in a deep-blue area of the state. Biden won around 2-1 ballots over Trump. Biden has a little over a 20,000 vote lead over Trump in Wisconsin. No direct allegations of impropriety have been made thus far—the Associated Press.
Here’s the cold, hard, truth on the Trump campaign. At press conferences, they are alleging a lot of things. On right-wing news sites from OANN, Newsmax, Breitbart, and more, they’re talking a big game on how Dominion changed the vote. You’ll hear conspiracy theories galore. The problem is this: neither the Trump campaign nor a single one of the people claiming to be part of his legal team, from Guiliani, Lin Wood, and so on, have made a single one of these claims in a court of law. Not one.
None of the lawsuits currently on tap even alleges broad fraud anymore or tampering, or any impropriety. Every time I’m asked, “well why would this big-name attorney put their name on this if they didn’t have some kind of evidence?” And my answer is: “I don’t know, and I’m not going to speculate as to why.” But I also feel like the people in old Wendy’s commercials, asking a simple question: Where’s the beef?
Sooner or later, if you want me to eat that sandwich, you have to put something on it other than a gigantic bun with gallons of condiments poured over it. Because it doesn’t matter which way you look at where this story is right now: there’s no beef. There’s not even SPAM or potted meat on this story. The most substantive cases the Trump campaign brought in Pennsylvania and Michigan no longer include allegations of fraud. What beef that did exist was removed.
Where things go from here.
The Emporer has no clothes. And you can’t tell me to believe he does have clothes on when the only proof offered is that “there’s no way he’d ever walk outside naked, that makes no sense!” That’s not an argument or evidence; it’s posthoc rationalization.
Could that change? Absolutely. Trump can file a new lawsuit right now, amend any of the current ones, or something else and blow away the world with fresh allegations that prove he won the race. As of the exact moment, I’m writing this, that has not occurred. Instead, all we have is Rudy Guiliani sweating what appears to be hair dye down his face while allegations are thrown around, with no beef provided. You can draw your metaphors about what it means when a lawyer is sweating hair dye during a challenging, lengthy press conference.
The problem for Trump is two-fold: no lawsuits and lousy math. He doesn’t have a strong substantive suit anywhere, and of the ones he does have, they don’t involve enough ballots to change the outcome of the race. Talking about the Pennsylvania case, Andy McCarthy at National Review makes the same point:
To cut to the chase, all that remains of the Trump campaign’s complaint is the claim that voters in pro-Trump counties were denied equal protection of law because mail-in voters in pro-Biden counties — mainly Philadelphia and Allegheny counties (Pittsburgh is in the latter) — were invited by election boards to cure defects in their ballots. Even if there were arguably merit to this claim (doubtful), it may only involve a few hundred votes, and certainly not more than a few thousand. That’s not enough. By current count, presumptive president-elect Biden leads President Trump by 83,000 votes.
If you want to learn some interesting Third Circuit case law on this point, I’d recommend that entire McCarthy piece. Karl Rove makes the exact same point, in a column for the Wall Street Journal:
There are only three statewide contests in the past half-century in which recounts changed the outcome: the 1974 New Hampshire Senate race, the 2004 Washington governor’s contest, and the 2008 Minnesota Senate election. The candidates in these races were separated, respectively, by 355, 261 and 215 votes after Election Day.
These margins aren’t much like today’s. Mr. Biden led Wednesday in Wisconsin by 20,540 votes, Pennsylvania by 49,064, Michigan by 146,123, Arizona by 12,614, Nevada by 36,870 and Georgia by 14,108.
To win, Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands. There is no evidence of that so far. Unless some emerges quickly, the president’s chances in court will decline precipitously when states start certifying results, as Georgia will on Nov. 20, followed by Pennsylvania and Michigan on Nov. 23, Arizona on Nov. 30, and Wisconsin and Nevada on Dec. 1. By seating one candidate’s electors, these certifications will raise the legal bar to overturn state results and make it even more difficult for Mr. Trump to prevail before the Electoral College meets Dec. 14.
And the unique thing about this fraud allegation is that it only appears to have applied in one race. Republicans won everywhere. Nearly every contested race in the Senate, House, and on the state level went Republicans way. If there were systemic fraud in the election, it’d have to be focused only on Donald Trump, and not on any other race in the country. If Democrats did pull that off, it’s a strange kind of election fraud. And the way the Trump campaign is going, they’re alleging everyone and everybody
If that evidence exists, the time to bring it out is ASAP. Elections are not things where you can wait and exercise some strategic timing. Certification is happening now. The electoral college is going to vote in December. And the new President will get sworn into office in January. The timeline here is unkind for losing candidates, but it’s part of the system that’s worked since the founding.
It’s put up or shut up time for the Trump campaign. Either they’ve got the goods, or these are all lies. Those are the only two options here. And like the woman in the commercial, everyone should be asking the same question: where’s the beef? Press conference allegations and cable television hits aren’t good enough. Either you can prove it in court, or you’ve got nothing. Either you can overturn the results of this election, or you can’t. And if you can’t, all these allegations seed needless distrust
I’ll leave you with one parting shot from Tucker Carlson, who said on his Thursday show:
“This may be the most open-minded show on television. We literally do UFO segments here.”
“So we invited [Sydney Powell] on the show. … We would have given her the entire week, actually … But she never sent any evidence. Not a page.”
“When we kept pressing she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.”
Where’s the beef?
Links of the week
Biden deputy chief of staff touted ‘mandatory buybacks’ of assault weapons: Jen O’Malley Dillon previously served as Biden’s campaign manager – but before that, she’d worked for Beto O’Rourke – Fox News
About Those Trump Vaccine Predictions: Do media “fact-checkers” owe the President an apology? – The Wall Street Journal
Senate investigators: New records ‘confirm’ troubling Biden family links to China and Russia – The Washington Examiner
In Minnesota and Beyond, ‘Defund the Police’ Weighed on Democrats: Republicans found success in local and congressional races by turning progressive slogans into political weapons – The Wall Street Journal
Republicans Won Almost Every Election Where Redistricting Was At Stake – FiveThirtyEight
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Bernie Sanders Confused After U.S. Beats Cuba To Producing COVID Vaccine – The Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!