Welcome to our weekly “Trumptastrophe” series, that will serve to remind us all of the destructive policies, decisions, and actions we encountered during the Trump presidency and the threats that he and others in the MAGA movement still pose – and to keep those moments clear in our memory as we fight to defeat Republican extremists during the upcoming elections.
This week’s recap brings into focus Trump’s attempts to promote the Big Lie – at any cost – including by risking the safety of everyday private citizens, putting his most loyal supporters in legal jeopardy, AND the danger many former Trump administration officials still pose to our democracy:
In late November of 2020, Donald Trump was scrambling to figure out ways to stay in power after Americans voted to send him packing. Courts had rejected dozens of Trump lawsuits, sometimes with scathing commentary from judges about the utter lack of evidence that was being offered to justify the campaign lawyers’ extraordinary requests that courts toss out election results and disenfranchise millions of voters.
But that didn’t deter Trump. He might not have been able to convince judges to overturn the election, but he was intent on convincing Americans—or at least his base—that the election was stolen. And he set out to convince Republican election officials and state legislators to do the disenfranchising.
First, the public. On Nov. 17, Trump fired Department of Homeland Security official Chris Krebs, who had contradicted Trump’s false election fraud narrative by saying there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changes votes, or was in any way compromised.” Krebs headed the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency at DHS, which had enraged Trump days earlier by releasing a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” In classic Trump fashion, Krebs was fired by Tweet, in which Trump insisted that “there were massive improprieties and fraud.”
A few days after firing Krebs, Trump met with Michigan Republican leaders he had summoned to the White House “as he continued his unprecedented efforts to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election,” NPR reported. The meeting was just days before the Michigan canvassing board was scheduled to meet to certify the election results.
As NPR noted, “There are two Republicans and two Democrats on the Michigan canvassing board. If they deadlock, Trump apparently hopes the GOP-controlled Legislature will appoint their own electors and overturn the popular vote, a scenario election experts said is unlikely and possibly illegal.” Trump didn’t get the results he wanted; the canvassing board certified Biden’s victory, with one of the White House visitors abstaining.
Here’s what Trump’s firing of Krebs and Michigan machinations tell us about the danger he poses to our democracy:
- Trump is not interested in truth and he doesn’t care about democracy. His demand for personal loyalty requires that people who work for him be willing to accept and promote his lies. Krebs’s comments threatened to undermine Trump’s Big Lie by assuring Americans that they could trust the election results. So, he was fired. CNN noted at the time of Krebs’s firing that his dismissal “underscores the lengths to which Trump is willing to go to punish those who don’t adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.”
- Trump’s lies ruin people’s lives, and not just those of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. In Michigan and other states, Trump’s team convinced MAGA loyalists to create fake sets of electors in the hope that would give Congress a reason to reject the real electors earned by Biden’s victories in those states. Michigan’s fake electors, who signed papers falsely claiming that they were “the duly elected and qualified electors,” were charged earlier this year with multiple felony counts including forgery and conspiracy.
- Trump’s ability to pull off the coup that he and parts of his team tried to engineer was ultimately stopped by people who worked for Trump but who upheld their oath to the Constitution. Trump has made it clear that he has learned his lesson; in a future Trump administration, he will be sure that lawyers in the White House and Justice Department would be willing to carry out his orders, the Constitution and laws be damned. Unfortunately, in today’s MAGA Republican Party, he won’t have a hard time finding these people.
- Consider Jeffrey Clark. He was the MAGA loyalist who tried in the last weeks of the administration to get the Justice Department to side with Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. When Clark was stymied by his superiors, Trump wanted to make him acting attorney general, a scheme that was only stopped by more principled leaders threatening Trump with mass resignations and a public relations disaster. Clark, who has been indicted with Trump in the Georgia case, has not been disgraced by his efforts to overturn the election. Far from it. He’s considered a “rising legal star” in the GOP. He’s a fellow at a MAGA-movement think tank that’s serving as a holding pen for former Trump officials. And he’s part of the far-right Project 2025 scheme to impose total domination of the federal government if Trump gets back to the White House. Clark, who had suggested in 2020 that Trump could use the military to put down protests that would break out if he refused to abide by the election results, is drafting plans for Trump to “invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations,” the Washington Post reported this month.
These are just some of the reasons we need YOU in this fight. So, find your favorite way to unwind after reading through this week’s recap, and then make a plan for how you will fight back THIS week, this MONTH, this election cycle.