World

Trump calls on Pence to subvert election

WASHINGTON: Pledging that he would “fight like hell” to remain in the White House, a desperate US President Donald Trump called on his vice-president Mike Pence to “come through” to illegally award him a second term, even as his supporters began descending on the capital on Tuesday for rallies authorities fear will be provocative and violent.
Contending that “there are people intent on coming to our city armed,” authorities in Washington DC, a Democratic-run city, mobilized the National Guard as Trump supporters, many from white supremacist and racist groups, arrived in the city for the so-called “stop the steal” rallies outside the White House on Tuesday and Wednesday.
But by all accounts except those in the conspiratorial extreme right circles, it is Trump who is trying to steal the election. In a rally in Georgia on Monday, a shrill Trump raised the pitch, asking vice-president Pence, who is tasked at a joint session of Congress on Thursday with formally recognizing Joe Biden as the winner of the Presidential election that has been certified by the states, to defy states’ verdict and declare him winner.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump said at a rally aimed at canvassing support for two Republican senate candidates in Georgia. Losing both seats in the run-off elections on Tuesday will pass control of the Senate (current 50-48 in Republican hands) to Democrats.
In another feverish gathering of mostly unmasked supporters that raised fears of being a Covid superspreader, Trump mocked a more restrained Biden rally in the state (“they had 14 people in three cars,” he sneered) while warning that “America as you know it will be over,” if Democrats gained control of the Senate.
“And it will never, ever – I believe – be able to come back again. It will be too far gone. Your vote tomorrow could … be your last chance to save the America that we love,” told voters in a state that has long been home to many white supremacists who have suppressed black voter turnout to win elections.
Georgia turning blue and Democratic on the strength of black and minority turnout in cities such as Atlanta is considered a turning point in US politics, a precursor to other states such as Texas going the same way because of demographic changes and growing minority assertion as the polls.
Trump’s appeal to Pence was a little more circumspect than his intimidation revealed in leaked phone calls of two Georgia Republican officials. In the call, he first pleaded, then directed the officials to “recalculate” presidential vote tally in the state and “find 11780 votes” — just enough for him win the state.
Georgia officials not only pushed back on Trump’s bogus claim of large-scale fraud but followed it up with a point-by-point rebuttal at a press conference, virtually calling the President a liar. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, who is being hailed for his courage in standing up to Trump’s bullying, said he avoided 18 calls from the White House before he reluctantly spoke to the President. He is the second GOP officials to publicly snub Trump by refusing to take his call.
Trump has called Republicans who have declined to endorse his bogus claims the “surrender caucus” and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) setting the stage for split between establishment Republicans and insurgents who back his extreme tactics. In a withering takedown of Trump-supporting lawmakers, the conservative commentator George Will called them the country’s “most dangerous domestic enemies.”
Trump’s blunt direction to Raffensperger to “find” the exact number of votes needed to win had led to calls from several quarters for a criminal probe by the FBI and prosecution for attempting to tamper with election results. Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, said Trump should be impeached to set a precedent that “a president who tries to cheat his way to re-election will be held accountable.”

In Video:We’ll ‘fight like hell’ to keep White House: Trump

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