Trump: The thousands of people gathering in D.C. tomorrow “won’t stand” to see me lose

There was never a question that it would come to this once he started digging in on the idea that he was cheated, only a question of how explicit the threats of violence would become.

We’ll get a sense tomorrow of how far he’s prepared to go at the rally his fans are holding while Congress meets to certify the results. Trump will speak there at some point, although I’d guess it’ll take a few days for him to work himself up after Biden’s win is certified to reach peak intimidation.

I don’t know that I’d bet on him tweeting “time to riot!” at some point, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Pelosi and McConnell should be prepared to act.

Ideally huge poster-sized versions of those three tweets would be the first things you see upon entering the eventual Trump Presidential Library. If you want to sum up the essence of the man, those do it as efficiently as anything he’s ever said.

On the bright side, at least the military was cc’d only on the tweet about Antifa, not the one about Congress.

In this post I wrote about how the divide that’s opened within the GOP over Trump’s election protests is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, threatening a full-blown schism. I wish I’d read this Newsweek piece before I posted it, as we’ve now reached the point where the president’s lawyer and longtime crony is calling for Republicans who won’t abet the coup attempt to leave the party.

I second that motion, by the way:

Giuliani laid out the legal options for Pence to refuse to count at least six states where “confusing” results were contested by Trump. Making several demands for party loyalty on conservative Charlie Kirk’s podcast, Giuliani said the GOP should be taking down the names of anyone “not supporting us.”…

As a testament to his self-proclaimed loyalty to the Republican Party, Giuliani suggested GOP leaders begin tracking who is voting against Trump’s interest.

“We should write down the names of all these senators who aren’t supporting us and have serious consideration as to whether they really belong in the Republican Party,” Giuliani told Kirk. “I believe we’re asking them to save the country, and they’re running off like cowards.”

I second this motion, too:

A Trump Party and a Republican Party: Let’s finalize this divorce. If it has to be messy, so be it.

For my money, the two most interesting players in tomorrow’s session of Congress aren’t Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley but Mike Pence and Tom Cotton. Pence is interesting for obvious reasons. He’s not going to try to block certification — I think — but I can imagine him trying and failing to please both sides by saying something like, “I accept these results under protest.” Some half-hearted gesture at dissent before he rubber-stamps Biden’s victory. The signals about his intentions right now are mixed:

Mr. Trump huddled with Mr. Pence, [advisor Marc] Short and others in the Oval Office late Monday. Mr. Short declined to discuss private conversations between the president and vice president…

Some Trump advisers are promoting the idea that the vice president could have a more expansive role. On Fox News over the weekend, Trump adviser Peter Navarro incorrectly argued that Mr. Pence had the authority to delay the process and grant a 10-day audit of the results.

“Peter Navarro is many things,“ Mr. Short said of that claim. “He is not a constitutional scholar.”

One senior official told the WSJ that Pence “will follow the law and uphold the constitution.” I thought back today to his bizarre endorsement of Ted Cruz before the 2016 primary in Indiana, where Pence was governor at the time. Indiana was Cruz’s last stand; he desperately needed Pence’s support to try to upset Trump there and keep the race between them going. He was counting on Pence as a traditional conservative and an evangelical Christian to choose him over Trump. And Pence did — but in a weaselly lukewarm way that was obviously designed to avoid pissing off Trump, who was en route to winning the state and then the nomination. Tomorrow may be another lukewarm endorsement as a bookend to the Trump/Pence relationship: Pence may do his duty by certifying the win but act somehow to make his (alleged) skepticism of Biden’s victory plain.

Cotton is interesting because he’s the most surprising holdout from the coup caucus. I expected he’d jump in as soon as Hawley and Cruz did, not wanting to cede any MAGA votes to them ahead of a 2024 presidential primary. Instead he put out a statement explaining why he won’t object to the electoral college results and then doubled down with an op-ed published in an Arkansas paper this morning. He may triple down by speaking on the Senate floor tomorrow against the effort led by Hawley and Cruz. I can’t figure out what his angle is, or even whether he has one. Maybe he feels a sincere moral conviction that what’s happening is wrong and can’t bring himself to condone it no matter what that means for his political ambitions.

But maybe he’s cannier than we think. He might be laying a long-term, high-stakes bet that (a) Trump’s influence will diminish somewhat before 2024; (b) non-MAGA Republicans will appreciate his show of independence; (c) the coup stunt by Hawley and Cruz won’t wear well with voters, either on the merits or because it makes them look like stooges for a more dominant alpha-male politician. Cotton might be positioning himself as a figure who can draw votes from both sides of the party in a primary, populist enough to please some Trump voters (although not the MAGA diehards who won’t forgive him for tomorrow’s betrayal) and establishment enough to please some traditional Republicans. If the two sides of the party arrive at the conclusion that they need to nominate someone who’s acceptable to both of them, that list of people will be small. Nikki Haley’s too establishment, Cruz and Hawley are too MAGA — Cotton is jusssst right. In theory.

By the way, since the moment Hawley announced that he would object tomorrow and then a group of 11 senators led by Ted Cruz followed suit, the coup caucus has gained … just one new member. That’s Kelly Loeffler, who basically had to join in order to pander to MAGA voters in Georgia ahead of tonight’s election. Every other Republican who’s declared their intentions, from Tim Scott to Jim Inhofe to Jerry Moran (who’s up for reelection in two years), has said, “No thanks.” There are still some big names who have yet to show their cards, like Marco Rubio, but the momentum is entirely with the Romney/Toomey/Sasse side of the caucus. That’s unusual in a spotlight this big with Trump so heavily invested in the outcome. I’m curious to know if Hawley and Cruz expected there’d be a dam break once they defied McConnell by announcing they’d object or whether they expected that they’d end up isolated. They’ve bet all of their political chips on Trump’s continuing relevance. I hope it works out for them. (Well, not really.)

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