Editorials rightfully blast Mark Meadows, call on Tillis to do his duty

Be sure to check out a pair of excellent new editorials that have appeared in Raleigh’s News & Observer this week.

In “As chief of staff, Meadows enables a rogue president,” the N&O properly points out that while President Trump continues to plumb new depths with his serial corruption and criminality, people like former North Carolina congressman (and current White House chief of staff) Mark Meadows bear significant responsibility for the outrageous and unprecedented behavior of this delusional man as he nears the end of his chaotic and destructive term in office.

After noting that one hears Meadows voice at the outset of the recording of Trump’s beyond-the-pale phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger that took place this past weekend, the editorial puts it this way:

“It’s fitting that Meadows opens this attempt to undermine democracy that may have broken the law. As outrageous as the president’s behavior has been on this and so much else, the fault lies also with his enablers, be they supine Republicans in Congress or sycophants in the White House.

Meadows has been both, and he now richly deserves to have his complicity made clear. The chief of staff doesn’t say much in the hour-long call, which included the president, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, two other Georgia officials and lawyers for Trump. But Meadows’ reticence is the point.”

The editorial goes on to note that Meadows active participation in this latest outrage should come as little surprise given his mostly dreadful record in public office:

“As political careers go, Meadows’ hasn’t been long, but it has been deeply damaging.

….The New York Times reported that it was Meadows who persuaded Trump last summer not to issue a national mask mandate. Trump’s pollster said a majority of Trump supporters approved of wearing a mask and, according the Times, Trump’s top adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, urged him to wear a mask and encourage all Americans to do so. Meadows, however, opposed Trump trying to require masks. He warned: “The base will revolt.” Trump agreed. How many lives have been lost as a result?

Meadows also helped block prompt approval of a second wave of coronavirus economic relief. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had success getting bipartisan support for the first package, the CARES Act, but once Meadows joined the negotiating team, negotiations bogged down. How much economic pain could have been avoided had Meadows been more positive and flexible?”

Meanwhile, in “Thom Tillis faces a final Trump test. Will he betray North Carolina?” the authors rightfully demand that North Carolina’s junior senator follow the lead of his colleague Richard Burr, by refusing to go along with Trump’s mad scheme to prevent certification of the Electoral College results when the matter comes before Congress. Here’s the conclusion:

“Now Tillis faces a final test on President Trump. The senator’s slowness to defend the Constitution against Wednesday’s effort is damning in itself. If he joins Republicans who question without proof the results of the presidential race, he will further poison the trust Americans have that their votes are counted fairly. He will set a precedent that such votes may be declared illegitimate in the future — that any party with control of Congress can invent reasons why an election is invalid, then act on those falsehoods. He will be saying — quite simply and not merely symbolically — that he and other members of Congress can take from Americans the power to pick their president.

That’s what more than 100 Republican members of Congress are doing Wednesday. They’re rejecting what voters told them, what election officials certified, and what judges have affirmed. We condemn any North Carolina official, Republican or Democrat, who joins such an effort, and we urge Sen. Tillis to finally and forcefully do what’s right for the people he says he serves.”

Amen.

Today’s the day in Georgia – here’s the latest

Today is Election Day in Georgia, where voters will decide whether Republicans or Democrats will control the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Both President Trump and President-elect Biden campaigned on Monday in the peach state. To raise the stakes even higher and add to the tension, President Trump took the outrageous step over the weekend of pleading with and threatening the state’s secretary of state Brad Raffensberger to “find” more than 11,000 votes to help reverse the already certified results of the state’s presidential contest. The following pair of news stories from the Georgia Recorder do an excellent job of setting the scene:

Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, refutes claims from President Donald Trump that illegal votes and other alleged election misconduct caused him to lose the presidential election. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

Georgia election officials again defend result against presidential do-over

By Stanley Dunlap

The fallout of President Donald Trump’s released recording with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger continued Monday with calls for investigations and tensions flaring heading into today’s intense U.S. Senate election runoffs.

Raffensperger said Monday that the hour-long phone conversation with the president over the weekend shines more light on the persistent false allegations that rampant  fraud caused Trump to lose the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes.

During the recording, Trump pressed Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn the election results or run the risk of damaging future political aspirations and potential criminal charges. 

The call led many Georgia Democrats and political law experts to question whether Trump broke any laws by pressuring the secretary of state to change the certified results. And state election officials said they worry that Trump and his allies’ frequent unfounded fraud accusations continue to cast a shadow over today’s Senate runoffs by discouraging people from voting.

“There are people who fought and died and marched and prayed to get the right to vote,” Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, said during a Monday afternoon press conference at the state Capitol. “Throwing it away because you have some feeling that it may not matter is self-destructive ultimately and a self-fulfilling prophecy at the end. So everyone who cares about the future of the nation should come out and vote. It’s vitally important.”

Raffensperger also called out Trump on Monday for the debunked conspiracy theories. The audio did not become public until after Trump tweeted Sunday morning that Raffensperger did not have the answers to the president’s questions about thousands of alleged illegal votes and other alleged election misconduct.

“We believe that truth matters, and we continue to fight to get our message out, but it’s fighting the rumor mill whack-a-mole daily,” Raffensperger said on ABC’s Good Morning America.  [Read more…]

And this is from a runoff preview that Recorder editor John McCosh posted Monday:

Clockwise from upper left: Loeffler, Warnock, Perdue and Ossoff. (Georgia Recorder staff photos)

Georgia’s costly U.S. Senate showdowns roil ahead of rally finales

By John McCosh

Soon after the Nov. 3 general election it was clear Georgia voters set up two U.S. Senate contests for this week and it seemed unlikely the presidential result would threaten to overshadow the high stakes battle at the ballot for control of the federal government.

But when President Donald Trump campaigns for fellow Republicans and Georgia U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue at a Dalton campaign rally Monday, the GOP’s hopes to keep control of the Senate could hang on the confidence party loyalists maintain in the state’s election apparatus.

Over the weekend the president berated Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a hour-long phone call for not overturning the state’s presidential election results and that could cause lower turnout for the GOP incumbents if voters think the election system is rigged. Trump has campaigned for the senators in recent weeks while claiming without evidence that he won an election certified for President-elect Joe Biden.

For his part, Biden is coming to Atlanta Monday in an eleventh-hour bid to get Democratic challengers John Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock across the finish line.

Polling consistently shows the two contests neck-and-neck, which isn’t surprising since the two races were pushed to a runoff after none of the four candidates got more than 50% of the vote on Election Day in November.

The stakes? Loeffler and Perdue pledge if they both win they will serve as a firewall in the Senate if Democrats fail to secure a majority, preventing a sweeping shift to Biden’s priorities to expand access to health care and increase efforts to control climate change. Ossoff and Warnock say they will back Biden’s agenda with two reliable votes. The runoffs have drawn unprecedented attention to Georgia with the rare prize of two difference-making U.S. Senate seats on the same ballot.

Both sides have teamed up on the campaign trail with messages that echo their party’s teammate. [Read more…]

A presidential election like none other, and now an inauguration like none other

Thousands of pro-Trump protestors march outside the White House

Pro-Trump protestors march along Independence Avenue in Washington Saturday toward the Washington Monument. Photo: Yanqi Xu

Many marchers echo Trump’s false claim of a stolen election

WASHINGTON – Many chanting “four more years” and holding “Stop the steal” signs, battalions of demonstrators rallied around the White House today to show support of President Trump today, a day after the Supreme Court dismissed Texas lawsuit, the last of a series of election disputes.

Most of those marching don’t have their masks on.

Trump touted the turnout of the crowd on Twitter.

Some protestors refused to acknowledge the victory of President-elect Joe Biden ahead of the electoral college votes on Monday.

Earlier today, Trump claimed to have won the election and railed against Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia and Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, both Republicans. “They allowed states that I won easily to be stolen,” Trump tweeted, “Never forget, vote them out of office.”

The two states flipped blue with a narrow advantage for former Vice President Joe Biden, contributing 27 electoral votes to Trump’s loss of 306-232 to Biden.

Photo: Yanqi Xu

Trump also retweeted an article bashing Supreme Court Justices nominated by Trump for failing to rule in favor of the president in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results. In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas has no standing in suing other jurisdictions. Only Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas said they would have heard the Texas claim.

Six Republican members of Congress from North Carolina were among the 128 nationally who showed support for the Texas suit.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appeared on the steps of the Supreme Court, AP reported. It’s the first public appearance of Flynn after pardoning by Trump. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Mueller investigation,

The electoral college votes will take place at noon across the nation on Monday. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall will host the state’s fifteen electors — who will cast their votes for Trump —  at the State Capitol Building.

Voting rights advocates respond to latest voter ID ruling

A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit may have voided a District Court ruling that put a preliminary hold on the General Assembly’s latest effort to require North Carolinians to produce a photo ID in order to vote yesterday, but it’s far from the end of the story according to voting rights advocates.

As both the North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina pointed out in statements released after the ruling was handed down, the groups had always anticipated that the matter would proceed to a full trial (which is the next step in the case) and remain confident that they will prevail in the end. The advocates also noted that a separate state court lawsuit on the matter continues to move forward as well.

This is from the NAACP statement:

“…this preliminary ruling does not mean that the state of North Carolina is now authorized to implement its proposed strict photo voter ID requirement. The injunction from a state case challenging S.B. 824 (Holmes v. Moore) remains in place. Both the Holmes matter and NAACP v. Cooper are set to go to trial in 2021 for a final resolution on the merits.

Attorney Irv Joyner, counsel representing the NC NAACP plaintiffs, made the following statement today: ‘NC NAACP is reviewing this decision and we are considering all appellate options. We steadfastly believe that the Honorable Judge Biggs’s findings and determinations were correct at the preliminary injunction phase.  Nonetheless, under the reasoning of the decision today, NC NAACP Plaintiffs’ evidence will also prevail at trial on the full merits and we look forward to the fight for justice ahead.’

…SB 824 is being challenged on the grounds that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent and will produce discriminatory results on African-American and Latinx voters. The law is being challenged under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. S.B. 824 requires registered voters to show one of a limited number of photo identification cards in order to cast a ballot and have it counted in a North Carolina election. This requirement will disproportionately injure African American and Latinx voters, who are less likely than other members of the electorate to possess the required forms of identification and who also face disproportionate burdens in obtaining such identification. As a result, African American and Latinx voters are more likely than other North Carolina voters to have their votes denied, diluted, or abridged by S.B. 824.”

And this is from Democracy NC:

“Strict photo voter ID requirements have faced scrutiny in North Carolina since 2013, when legislators passed a similar bill that the Fourth Circuit later held discriminated against Black voters with ‘surgical precision.’ The law at issue in this, S.B. 824 is being challenged on the grounds that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent and will produce discriminatory results on Black and Latinx voters. NAACP v. Raymond challenges S.B. 824 under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the 15th Amendment of the Constitution. The plaintiffs in this case are the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, Greensboro NAACP, High Point NAACP, Moore County NAACP, Stokes County NAACP, and Winston-Salem Forsyth County NAACPs. In their statement earlier today, the plaintiffs anticipated the case proceeding to a full trial. A separate suit remains active in the North Carolina state court system, where an injunction blocking the ID requirement’s implementation remains in place.

Voting rights advocacy group Democracy North Carolina will continue to gather data and stories to showcase the requirement will ultimately disenfranchise thousands of NC Black and Latinx voters by limiting their access to the ballot. This type of legislation deprives eligible voters of their right to vote and reduces overall participation in the democratic process.

Tomas Lopez, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina states, ‘We will continue to fight racially discriminatory voting laws that hinder Black and Latinx voters’ fundamental right to access the ballot. Despite today’s ruling, a state court injunction blocking the photo voter ID requirement remains in place, and both the federal and state cases remain active.'”