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.
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.
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.
As this election blurred forward I was taking notes for more editions of our “Brittle Grip” Series, the phenomenon of the super powerful and super rich feeling increasingly insecure in their power and wealth even as both wax. One of the key features of this new Gilded Age is the ultra-wealthy and ultra-powerful arguing that their ultra-wealth and ultra-power opens them up to criticism and animosity which entitles them to unique and greater rights and powers to protect themselves. I was forced ahead of schedule this morning by news out of St. Louis from the McCloskeys, the husband and wife sixty-something lawyers who entered the campaign drama when they came out of their house brandishing firearms and threatening to murder protestors who happened to be walking by their house. The couple has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the photographer who took those iconic pictures of them with their guns.