Alan Zendell, April 27, 2022
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the events of January 6th, 2021 was Vice President Mike Pence’s courage and integrity in standing up to the barrage of attacks from Donald Trump’s election team. Pence’s stance, that he had no power to reject electors designated by the states, was legal and correct, and a critical defense of our Constitution and our democracy. Pence got it right, in part, because he was being advised by a retired federal appellate judge, J. Michael Luttig. Luttig is a Republican who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush.
Judge Luttig published an OpEd on the CNN website this morning that addressed the wider issue of what the Trump-dominated Republicans were really after. While he did not say anything many of us didn’t either already know or suspect, he put it all together in a succinct package that ought to send a chill through anyone who believes in our Constitution, say, those three “originalist” justices appointed to the Supreme Court by Trump.
Luttig explained that “January 6 was never about a stolen election or even about actual voting fraud.” It was all about state legislatures that passed or changed voting rules to expand the ways people could cast votes in response to the COVID lockdown and subsequent concerns about averting super-spreader events. He describes Trumpers’ claims that Trump lost due to election fraud as false and disingenuous. In fact, everything that occurred between Election Day, November 3, 2020, and January 6th, 2021 was part of a conspiracy to circumvent the Constitution that began long before the election. More ominous was Luttig’s warning that it was all a dry run of a process they intend to refine and use again in 2024.
The intent is to rewrite election rules based on their contention that the swing states that gave the election to Biden violated the Independent State Legislature Doctrine. They believe that will ultimately allow them to control the outcome of all future presidential elections in favor of Republican candidates. That’s an important reason that traditional Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have not completely broken with Trump. The conspiracy would benefit the party, independent of the internal struggle over who controls it. The fact that it would blatantly undermine the intent of the voting clauses in the Constitution isn’t even a consideration.
The Doctrine grants exclusive power to state legislatures over how to conduct elections and select electors, which Trump’s people favor because Republicans control a majority of state legislatures. They contend that it is therefore illegal for state courts or election officials to interfere with that process, even in emergency situations like the COVID pandemic. Thus, by expanding early and absentee voting rules, which Trump contends favored Democrats, the election was thrown to Biden. It’s a position that even the Supreme Court including Trump’s three appointees seemed to have rejected, last month, when they refused to block state courts’ actions in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that changed grossly gerrymandered district boundaries set by the states’ legislatures.
The conspiracy to undermine the 2020 election began months before Election Day when it was becoming clear that Trump’s refusal to accept the advice of his COVID policy task force, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths, would likely cause him to lose. It was perhaps ironic that every case brought before the Supreme Court challenging the election result was rejected based on the same Doctrine. Trump’s justices ruled that federal intervention in state-run elections would not be constitutional.
Judge Luttig’s warning not only casts a spotlight on what we can expect from a Trump-dominated Republican Party in future presidential elections. It also provides a meaningful context for the work of the House January 6th Committee, which is now in possession of thousands of text messages, emails, and telephone records describing the actions of Trump’s team and family members during the transition period prior to January 6th. All of the attempts by Trump’s people claiming lack of knowledge, poor memories, or innocent intent fly out the window when viewed against the judge’s rendering of events.
It couldn’t be clearer that Mark Meadows, at the direction of President Trump, was the focal point of the conspiracy, and that all the usual suspects, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Donald Trump, Jr, as well as all the House members who beat the drum falsely over election fraud were part of the cynical attempt to undermine the Constitution.
It’s time for all Americans to wake up to the very real threat to our democracy. Stop believing what you read on Facebook and look at the facts, or your children may not have one.