Threats rising as Trump pushes to ‘overturn’ the election

Turley: Trump doesn’t have much runway left after SCOTUS Pa. ruling

Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley offers his legal insight on ‘Special Report’

President Trump is ramping up his rhetoric on the election after a Supreme Court smackdown that required all of one sentence.

For weeks, as his campaign and his allies filed about 50 lawsuits, the president insisted he wanted a fair shot at challenging swing-state losses based on his allegations of massive fraud.

Now he’s posting tweets that say “OVERTURN.”

Trump’s emerging approach has his critics openly worried about a surge in death threats against state officials and whether the tense situation might end in violence. I don’t think it’s fair to blame a politician for what his crazier supporters do, but Trump’s detractors note that he has yet to condemn such threats.

His laser-like focus on the election outcome even overshadowed the one major event he’s staged on the coronavirus.

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Despite its 6-3 conservative majority, with Amy Coney Barrett on board, the high court refused without dissent to hear an appeal of a case seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s 80,000-plus margin in Pennsylvania. The Trump team has suffered one punishing defeat after another in states from Georgia to Wisconsin to Arizona, making it increasingly hard to imagine how he can prevail in the courts. That’s a major reason why the president has approached local GOP lawmakers in three states, most recently Pennsylvania, with the long-shot goal of having them toss out millions of votes and send a pro-Trump slate to the Electoral College. No traction there, either.

Here was Trump’s new tack yesterday: “We will soon be learning about the word ‘courage’, and saving our Country. I received hundreds of thousands of legal votes more, in all of the Swing States, than did my opponent. ALL Data taken after the vote says that it was impossible for me to lose, unless FIXED!” 

Also: “If somebody cheated in the Election, which the Democrats did, why wouldn’t the Election be immediately overturned? How can a Country be run like this?”

Now the president is openly suggesting it is cowardly for judges and legislators not to award him a second term.

I happen to think the argument that Biden couldn’t have won more than 81 million votes is the weakest one Trump is making. A stunning 150 million people voted, and his own total soared from 62 million last time to more than 74 million. Trump is now putting his hopes on a Texas suit to block the results in battleground states–though the Supreme Court could refuse to hear that one as well.

When the president staged a vaccine summit Tuesday at the White House, CNN and MSNBC, whose journalists often complain that he spends almost no time talking about Covid-19, declined to carry it. Operation Warp Speed is one program for which Trump deserves credit, now that the Pfizer vaccine has been greenlighted and the Moderna version is close to approval.

But when NBC’s Peter Alexander asked why no Biden staffers were invited, Trump said “we won in those swing states,” by “hundreds of thousands of votes,” and “terrible things” went on. That answer obliterated headlines about the vaccines.

Against this backdrop, the threats are emerging as a national story. As rounded up by the New York Times, they range from the Arizona Republican Party urging supporters to be willing to “die for something” to a Democratic state rep in Michigan, Darrin Camilleri, getting emails that say “Be prepared to take your last meal,” and “We’re looking forward to bring back firing squads.”

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The chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, Ann Jacobs, said some people on Twitter have posted photos of her house.

Michigan’s Democratic secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, said she had put up Christmas decorations with her 4-year-old son when dozens of protestors, some of them armed, began chanting outside her house.

And Democrats aren’t the only targets. Gabriel Sterling, a top Republican election official in Georgia, addressed Trump by name last week in response to online threats in saying “someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed.” 

We all hope that’s not the case. We all hope that the election battles will be fought in the courts and not on the streets. But this has become a nerve-wracking time of the sort that none of us has seen before.

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