Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University, recently wrote a lengthy opinion piece on the Trump presidency, its many failed attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and what exactly has “saved the republic” from Trump.
In the piece Wu asserts that it is not the constitutional checks and balances that have saved the republic, but a set of limits on Trump’s executive power:
…an informal and unofficial set of institutional norms upheld by federal prosecutors, military officers and state elections officials. You might call these values our “unwritten constitution.” Whatever you call them, they were the decisive factor.
It’s true that the courts at times provided a check on Mr. Trump’s tyrannical tendencies, as with their dismissal of his frivolous attacks on the election and their striking down of his effort to overturn the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without appropriate process. But in other cases, such as his anti-Muslim travel ban, the courts have been too unwilling to look beyond form to ferret out unconstitutional motive. More generally, Mr. Trump has tended to move fast, while the courts are slow, and to operate by threat, which the courts cannot adjudicate.
Wu continues by saying that there are many reasons that Trump’s coup “almost” worked, and chief among them is that a Republican Senate let him do whatever he wanted.
Wu claims that:
the president’s worst impulses were neutralized by three pillars of the unwritten constitution. The first is the customary separation between the president and federal criminal prosecution (even though the Department of Justice is part of the executive branch). The second is the traditional political neutrality of the military (even though the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces). The third is the personal integrity of state elections officials.
Wu continues by saying that “If any of these informal “firewalls” had failed, President Trump might be on his way to a second and more autocratic term. But they held firm, for which the Republic should be grateful.”
The Supreme Court ruling in the alleged election fraud case in Pennsylvania is yet another example of how the president’s executive power is limited.
Donald Trump is now facing grim prospects in overturning the election, as Ex-U.S. prosecutor Laura Coates points out while speaking with CNN this week and dismissed the president’s chances in court.
Which follows news the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a key Republican challenge of Pennsylvania election results.
“The jig is up, The president has no more viable paths to even anticipate some legal basis for why he thinks that President-elect Joe Biden should not be sworn in this coming January,” she told. A hard pill to swallow.
And Coates argued, “You see what he tried to do — a lot of different efforts here. First, remember, he began trying to use an assertion he hoped he could work backwards and somehow the evidence would appear. He was unable at the lower courts, for a variety of reasons, across this country, to ever have any evidence to support his claim.”
She went on to say, “Then he tried to work his way to the Supreme Court to say, hey, can you please be the last-ditch effort in this Hail Mary? The Court is refusing to do so primarily because, one, no evidence to support any substantive reason whatsoever to overturn the election.”
Plus expressed, “Also, there has not been anything at the lower court level that would even allow it to be prudent before the court today.” An alarming accusation here given what is at stake.
She pointed to today’s safe harbor deadline of December 8th as a devastating blow for Trump and co. As the states now have submitted official election totals to be certified by Congress. Along with a decision to decline hearing the Pennsylvania suit.
CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta countered the president’s most recent claims. “President Trump is still trying to pull a fast one with his supporters, insisting he has won a second term. Mr. Trump said he was 2-0 today when it’s actually one win and one loss.”
Acosta added, “But that’s not true, and neither are his false cries of a rigged election, no matter how many times he looks at the numbers.” Then disclosed, “Privately, the president and his team understand he is running out of legal challenges. The question is whether the president will ever acknowledge that himself.”
Not to be deterred, on more than one occasion Donald Trump personally called the Speaker of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives and spoke with him about helping him change the election results in the state.
The Washington Post reported that Trump had called Speaker Bryan Cutler and urged him to take some action to “fix” state law that prevents lawmakers from intervening and replacing electors that were selected by voters to cast electoral votes in the state.
Trump’s calls to the Speaker were confirmed by Cutler’s spokesperson.
“The president said, ‘I’m hearing about all these issues in Philadelphia, and these issues with your law,’” Michael Straub, Cutler spokesman told the Post. Cutler then stated that Trump went on to ask, “What can we do to fix it?”
Straub then went on to state that Cutler informed Trump that the state Legislature did not have the power to overturn the state’s electors.
Cutler was one of more than 70 legislators who signed a letter to Pennsylvania’s congressional representatives to object to the state’s electoral slate when Congress is set to formally accept the results next year.
On Monday several state representatives sought a new emergency court order to void the final certification for the vote count that they state was “severely flawed.” Cutler was involved in that request.
Trump’s efforts came in the form of two phone calls over the past week. Trump also made this type of overture to lawmakers in both Georgia and Michigan.
Trump’s latest efforts come amid his legal team filing several lawsuits to try and block the certification of election results in Pennsylvania. Those lawsuits were dismissed by the Supreme Court.