Perhaps it’s easier to speak out against President Trump and the flailing, chaotic, dwindling days of his presidency when you’re no longer in an official position.
At TPM, we have certain terms we use over and over. Dignity wraiths. The brittle grip. A new one in recent months: Schrodinger’s DHS secretary. You can find a (very) partial list of these terms — Josh Marshallisms, largely — here.
For our 20th anniversary celebration next month, we’re putting together a master list. It’s quite an undertaking: Twenty years of proprietary terms. But we think it will serve as a useful guide to some of the key themes of the last two decades. Also, we think it will be funny.
However: 20 years is a long time, and we need the help of our dedicated readers to remember some of these terms.
So, if you remember one that we’re missing, shoot us an email.
There’s an important and clarifying subtext to Team Trump’s decision to jettison Sidney Powell from the zombie campaign’s legal team. Yes, her theories and accusations are terrifyingly demented. But, c’mon … do we think that’s really supposed to be a problem? The issue is the Georgia senate races.
I’m not sure quite what to make of this. Those two Michigan House and Senate leaders who went to visit President Trump at the White House appear to have given Trump an unqualified ‘no’. Indeed, not only do they appear to have given him an unqualified ‘no’ in the joint statement they released after the meeting. But they coupled this with an ask for more COVID relief.
At least three members of the Trump family inner orbit are looking to a future that might not necessarily involve the chief patriarch being president of the United States.
While the family publicly continues to hype Trump’s dangerous and ridiculous election delegitimization crusade, privately a few have their sights set on their own political futures.
Two weeks ago, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow announced that she had been exposed to COVID-19 and would be stepping away from the network’s post-election coverage to quarantine. Last night, Maddow revealed that her partner of more than two decades, Susan Mikula, has been battling a severe case of the coronavirus.
“At one point, we really thought there was a possibility that it might kill her,” Maddow said, adding that Mikula is thankfully now on the road to recovery.
It was a powerful and authentic moment, and a reminder of the human toll of the virus. Give it a watch after the jump.
To soften the blow of defeat Fox's Geraldo proposes naming the vaccine after Trump. "It would be a nice gesture to him and years from now it would become kind of a generic name. Have you got your trump yet, I got my trump, I'm fine. I wished we could honor him in that way." pic.twitter.com/fM8qwFhxF6
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 20, 2020
Through this corrupt era one of the common refrains has been, “that’s why or how we got Trump.” Usually it is whatever it is the person didn’t like before Trump rebranded as the bad thing that got us Trump. But on display today is one of the real reasons ‘we got Trump.’ It’s not the deepest reason but it is a critical, critical part of the equation. It’s also why Donald Trump was able to careen through the leading candidates of the Republican party so easily in 2016.
We’re watching the press conference of the President’s legal team. It’s an all star team of rejects and degenerates from the Fox Cinematic Universe: Jenna Ellis, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Joe DiGenova. It’s both comical in its slapdash level of nonsense but also deeply corrupt and an attack on the very foundations of the American republic. In the course of this event Giuliani has claimed that most of the votes in Wayne County (Detroit) are invalid and should be discarded. Needless to say, this disenfranchises most of the African-American population in Michigan. As Giuliani succinctly put it, “It changes the results of the election in Michigan if you take out Wayne County.”
We have a new, exclusive story up right now.
TPM’s Tierney Sneed has learned that the Census Bureau identified routine issues in data from the 2020 decennial census, and will need time to fix them. This seemingly small wrinkle could have significant implications for how political power is distributed through apportionment.
In a narrow sense, this is a very New York City-centric issue. But if it comes to fruition, life as we know it in this city will not only collapse further into the unlivable realm than it already has in the wake of COVID-19, but we might see another outbreak spike in the city.
We should take a moment this morning to give a big thanks to the Biden campaign team and all the tens of millions of Biden voters. Because under extremely difficult circumstances they made sure it wasn’t close. Biden will win by at least 4 percentage points and likely more like 5. He will win by a 74 vote margin in the electoral college. Under normal, legitimate circumstances a win is a win is a win. Margins are just about bragging and feeling good. But this year it was critical and you can see that from the events of the last 24 hours.
I seldom or maybe never just reprint a tweet in a post. But this one is worth your reading all the way through.
Forget Russia’s interference in '16. Or Trump’s impeachment for asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden.
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) November 18, 2020
Stunning turn of events tonight in Michigan. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked and was unable to certify the county’s vote. Wayne County includes Detroit. The Board has two Republicans and two Democrats. The Republicans refused to certify. But tellingly the GOP Chair said they’d agree as long as Detroit was left out. Basically, they were trying to pull a power play in which they used their power to toss out the votes of the city of Detroit.
The state GOP jumped in and lauded the decision. Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis excitedly predicted it was the first step toward the GOP state legislature tossing out the results of the election and appointing Trump electors to the electoral college. Finally President Trump himself tweeted excitedly that it was a turning point.
But then it all changed.
Just to keep you up to date, this Lindsey Graham story continues to grow. As we noted last night, Graham approached the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia with a plan to throw out what appears to have been a huge number of legally cast mail-in ballots. Since mail-in ballots overwhelmingly favored Joe Biden, there’s every reason to think that would have made Trump the winner and quite possibly avoided a run-off for David Purdue.
NBC is out this morning with an article which seem to signal President-Elect Biden’s “wary” of having the Justice Department scrutinize and possibly indict his predecessor, Donald Trump. It’s a bit of a hard article to decipher. On its face, it simply says that Biden is going to leave prosecutorial decisions to the Justice Department, which is exactly what should happen. A President who makes the DOJ and its prosecutorial power a tool of his personal will is the problem we’re trying to solve not the solution it. But you can also read it as Biden doesn’t want his presidency consumed by the drama and pyrotechnics of investigations and prosecutions of Trump and his family, which sounds a lot like ‘turning the page’ and ‘looking forward not back.’
According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Sen. Lindsey Graham approached him about throwing out all mail-in ballots in counties that had higher than average ballot signature mismatches. This is a request (almost certainly at President Trump’s behest) to violate the law by throwing out huge numbers of legally cast votes on an absurd premise. He might as well have asked Raffensperger to falsify the numbers. And in fact, I think that is what it amounts to. This comes out in a new interview with Raffensperger from The Washington Post.
That’s a headline that could encompass the societal feeling of just about any stage of 2020. But it feels particularly pointed right now.
You may have heard that the Trump campaign has now dropped most of its case against the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania. But they’re expanding their case in other directions. Specifically, counsel for the President’s campaign is asking the court to sanction counsel for the State of Pennsylvania (technically, the Secretary of State) because an unnamed associate at Kirkland Ellis left a mean voicemail in her voicemail box.
Last night I was heartened to hear that The Washington Post had called for the abolition of the electoral college in an editorial. This is hardly a controversial view, certainly among Democrats. But I was glad to see it because I’ve been thinking in recent months of the critical importance of building in this country what for lack of a better phrase I’ll call a democracy agenda. This is critical first because what we’ve long considered the most basic assumptions of civic democracy are so clearly under threat but also because longstanding features of the apparatus of the American state, which had the potential to thwart the democratic will, have now begun actively to do so.
I don’t know if you watched the President’s comments yesterday at his vaccine event. But one of our number, TPM Reader EB, said after it ended that that was the concession. He was right. I didn’t quite get it as it was happening. But after EB said it I realized he was right.
Of course he didn’t literally concede anything. Trump was petulant, lashing out at perceived enemies. But he was low energy and notably did not take questions. There was one moment even when he had to catch himself because he almost inadvertently admitted that he lost and that his presidency is ending.
So here we are: 20 years. I remember our 10 year anniversary. That feels not long ago at all. The beginning in many ways feels like a lifetime ago, a very different time in my life, a very different time in our politics and in the media and publishing world certainly.
Today I don’t want to say too much more than thank you. Thank you to all of our readers and especially our almost 35,000 subscribers who literally make it possible for us to do all of this and have made it possible for me to experiment and drive this forward since 2000. My ask for today is this. Share your TPM memories with us. Maybe it’s a special moment in your relationship with the site. Maybe it’s how you found TPM. Anything and everything. Our real history and existence is your experience of our collective work over these many years. So pop open your email and let us know what yours is. Use the subject line TPM20.
If you’d also like to share some part or version of it publicly on social media please use the hashtag #TPM20. Our existence as an organization has always been about leveraging and sharing your individual and collective insights. So send those in. It will mean the world to me and the whole team. We will of course be sharing many of them as part of our celebration of the team’s milestone.
At least, that’s all according to a growing list of anonymous White House and campaign aides.
1) According to this article by Ron Kampeas from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were asked to withdraw their children from the Jewish day school they attend in Washington, DC because parents became concerned the couple was flouting basic COVID mitigation protocols the school requires of parents. The Kusher/Trumps deny it but the reporting speaks for itself. It sounds like the school raised their behavior with the couple. They refused to change it. And then they were asked to leave.
Over the last 48 hours I’ve had a number of people ask me, ‘What’s going on here? Is this a fundraising stunt? A coup? A protracted effort to protect Trump’s feelings? Just an effort to delegitimize Biden’s presidency?’ I think it mistakes Trump to think that he’s even decided or ever will, that it’s one and not another as opposed to all of the above. Donald Trump doesn’t do strategy. He does impulse. The most defining pattern of his life is to respond to reverses by seeking to throw his adversaries off balance with an audaciously aggressive play and then work it for all its worth.
As we look out onto the terrain of the future everyone is trying to make sense of the post-Trump landscape. This is particularly so since the race was not a blow out and Democrats actually had reverses in the House and down ballot. But I think everyone is giving too little place to the uncertainty and instability of the electoral future.
The story of the Trump presidency is that the suburbs and the college educated trended hard to the Democrats while non-college educated, more rural voters went toward the President. Notably, in 2020 these patterns began to bleed outside of white America. The President made gains with some Hispanic Americans and to a degree with black men.