How the Trump campaign is already planning to keep power after the election

The Atlantic has a long, detailed, and harrowing new piece by Barton Gellman that goes in-depth into election security and the GOP's established history of voter suppression tactics. But Gellman also speaks with a few members of the Trump campaign team, who — as long as their names are protected — are very open about acknowledging the legal strongarm tactics that they're already planning to use to retain power. Think Jeb Bush assigning his own electors in Florida during the 2000 election. Think Pat McCrory in North Carolina using his lameduck period to legally strip powers from the incoming Democrats in 2016. Now think worse.

The Trump-campaign legal adviser I spoke with told me the push to appoint electors would be framed in terms of protecting the people's will. Once committed to the position that the overtime count has been rigged, the adviser said, state lawmakers will want to judge for themselves what the voters intended.

"The state legislatures will say, 'All right, we've been given this constitutional power. We don't think the results of our own state are accurate, so here's our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state,' " the adviser said. Democrats, he added, have exposed themselves to this stratagem by creating the conditions for a lengthy overtime.

"If you have this notion," the adviser said, "that ballots can come in for I don't know how many days—in some states a week, 10 days—then that onslaught of ballots just gets pushed back and pushed back and pushed back. So pick your poison. Is it worse to have electors named by legislators or to have votes received by Election Day?"

When The Atlantic asked the Trump campaign about plans to circumvent the vote and appoint loyal electors, and about other strategies discussed in the article, the deputy national press secretary did not directly address the questions. "It's outrageous that President Trump and his team are being villainized for upholding the rule of law and transparently fighting for a free and fair election," Thea McDonald said in an email. "The mainstream media are giving the Democrats a free pass for their attempts to completely uproot the system and throw our election into chaos." Trump is fighting for a trustworthy election, she wrote, "and any argument otherwise is a conspiracy theory intended to muddy the waters."

In Pennsylvania, three Republican leaders told me they had already discussed the direct appointment of electors among themselves, and one said he had discussed it with Trump's national campaign.

It's a long, but important read beyond this section, too. (You can also listen to it via Audm.)

The Election That Could Break America [Barton Gellman / The Atlantic]

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