Sunday, January 24, 2021

Trump wreaks post-election chaos, reaping fundraising rewards

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A month after losing the presidential election, Donald Trump and his allies continue to promote electoral fraud conspiracy theories that include allegations about late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and invocations of the Kraken, the Scandinavian version of the Loch Monster Ness.

In addition to undermining American democracy in the eyes of critics, Mr. Trump’s strategy seems unfortunate because he doesn’t stand a chance change the result of the election. But he used it to raise huge sums of money and fuel a movement of grievances ahead of the possible announcement of his White House candidacy again in 2024.

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have raised $ 207 million since the November 3 election. As Mr. Trump solicits donations to challenge the result, much of that money is funneled into a fund he can use to support Republicans in the next election.

The War Chest will help him amplify his powerful voice on social media and give him even more power to influence the Republican primary races. His strategy also complicates the situation for Republicans who would want to run for president in four years, including Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, and Mike Pompeo, its secretary of state.

As most states have certified their election results, Mr. Trump has consistently refused to give in. His ragged legal team, led by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, has been repeatedly turned down in court. Even William Barr, the attorney general who has been fiercely loyal to the president, this week recognized there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

When asked if he trusted Mr Barr, Mr Trump replied: “Ask me that in a few weeks” – a disturbing response given that he fired Chris Krebs, his top election security official, for saying the vote was fine.

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People who refused to comply with the plots were threatened. Joe DiGenova, a member of Trump’s legal team, said this week that Mr. Krebs should be “brought out at dawn and shot.”

In another example of the controversies, Michael Flynn – Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation but recently received a presidential pardon – supported a call to impose martial law and restart the vote.

As national media pay less attention to Mr. Trump, the president this week gave a speech broadcast on social media in which he repeated the kind of baseless claims Mr. Barr rejected.

Many Republicans believe Mr. Trump’s threat to run for president again will allow him to remain a GOP kingmaker given his considerable influence on the Conservative base, who are the party’s most committed members in what concerns the Republican primary races.

But there are also fears that Mr. Trump’s electoral fraud theories are hurting the GOP as it tries to win. two senatorial elections in the second round in Georgia in January, that will determine whether the party can retain its majority in the chamber.

At a “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia this week, Sidney Powell, a lawyer who worked with the Trump campaign before it disowned it, and Lin Wood, another lawyer pursuing election challenges, urged the Republicans not to vote in Senate races because they couldn’t be sure their ballots would be protected from fraud.

Their comments drew a rebuke from Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, who lambasted the couple for being “utterly destructive” and urged Republicans to ignore them.

“Every conservative in Georgia who cares about America MUST vote in the second round,” he wrote on Twitter. “Their ‘don’t vote’ strategy will cripple America.”

Mr Trump will hold a rally in Georgia on Saturday in support of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the Holders of the Republican Senate who refused to admit that he lost the election, in order to reduce the chances that he would turn against them.

Highlighting their conundrum – that supporting the fraud allegations could reduce Republican participation – Mr Perdue said on a leaked Zoom call that it was essential that he and Ms Loeffler win so that the Senate could counter Mr Biden – an implicit acceptance of the election result.

While still on Trump’s legal team, Ms Powell said the campaign found hundreds of thousands of examples of electoral fraud fueled by tech companies trying to kick Mr Trump out of the House. White.

“I’m going to free the Kraken,” she said, echoing a phrase from Clash of the Titans It has become a Twitter meme among people who believe Mr. Trump can still overturn the election result.

Yet without any sign of the “Kraken,” the number of Republicans urging Mr. Trump to concede is slowly increasing. More are expected once the electoral college officially meets to vote on December 14.

In the meantime, Mr Biden said many Republican senators who had not congratulated him in public weren’t really in denial. “There have been more than several Republican senators in office who called me privately and congratulated me,” Biden told CNN.

Additional reporting by Kadhim Shubber

To follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter



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