It seems like mere days ago that Democrats wanted to eliminate the Electoral College, which in their view is organized to unjustly thwart the popular vote outcome and disenfranchise – in 2016 – at least 1.3 million voters.
But now that the CIA has “assessed” that Russia tried to get Trump elected by hacking Democratic email accounts and releasing the files to WikiLeaks, Democratic electors have decided that their role as guardians of the Republic is a supremely important one.
Senior intelligence officials, as well as the FBI, may be declining to endorse the very dicey CIA assessment about the Russian motive.
But a small group of electors has jumped on it with alacrity, requesting that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, make sure they have a full briefing on it before they cast their votes on 19 December.
They’ve signed a letter to Clapper making this request. And this is one group of electors that puts a very, shall we say, heroic construction on the electors’ role. They open by sounding very much as if they don’t feel bound to vote for anyone in particular:
We intend to discharge our duties as Electors by ensuring that we select a candidate for president who, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, would be “endowed with the requisite qualifications.” As Electors, we also believe that deliberation is at the heart of democracy itself, not an empty or formalistic task. We do not understand our sole function to be to convene in mid-December, several weeks after Election Day, and summarily cast our votes. To the contrary, the Constitution envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government — ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve. Accordingly, to fulfill our role as Electors, we seek an informed and unrestrained opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role leading up to December 19th — that is, the ability to investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College.
They invoke the Federalist Papers in rejecting foreign influence in a U.S. election:
We further emphasize Alexander Hamilton’s assertion in Federalist Paper #68 that a core purpose of the Electoral College was to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”
They state conclusively that Trump was thought to be receiving foreign assistance “months before Election Day,” and then piously cite the widely disputed CIA “assessment” as if it’s holy writ:
According to reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other outlets, the United States intelligence community has now concluded definitively that the Russian interference was performed to help Donald Trump get elected, yet even today Mr. Trump is refusing to accept that finding.
(In fact, as I pointed out in my post on Saturday, the “intelligence community” has not concluded any such thing. CIA is out on a limb, but other agencies, including officials from the DNI office and the FBI, have declined to endorse the CIA conclusion. See the Reuters link above for the latest on that.)
It’s not just the sudden CIA assessment that interests the small group of electors, however. They want to put Trump on the hook to give them “evidence” that he hasn’t engaged in any skulduggery with the Russians.
Here’s their stated “requirement” for intelligence:
The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.
And their demand for “conclusive evidence” from Trump:
Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.
This last demand is, of course, particularly unrealistic. No “conclusive evidence” can be provided of a negative. The demand is phrased to set an impossible standard for satisfaction.
The whole thing is probably an exercise in futile nonsense. At most, the electors themselves may have to be replaced, if they refuse to move forward with the vote on schedule. If their states allow them to refuse participation, that will simply reduce commensurately the number of votes Trump requires to win the Electoral College.
The lengthy and talking-point-packed letter comes off like something written by John Podesta’s elves at the Center for American Progress. It’s light on anything meaningfully actionable, and heavy on the freighted allusions and buzz-phrases, piling on reductionist statements and innuendo to make it sound like there’s a “history of repeated injuries and usurpations” by the Evil Trump.
Pumping the letter out the first working day after CIA’s “assessment” was disclosed to the public certainly looks fully orchestrated – as does the Clinton campaign’s prompt endorsement of the letter and its request. As Breitbart outlined last week, George Soros has extensive links to at least one activist (Lawrence Lessig) connected with the push against Trump in the Electoral College, as well as the recount efforts for which Jill Stein has been the figurehead.
Speaking of the Clinton campaign, incidentally, the electors’ letter and its sanctimonious allusion to Federalist #68 are downright hilarious in light of all the foreign money the Clinton Foundation was receiving during the presidential campaign. Ben Bowles noted that in his post earlier today. Ben’s post also mentions a Change.org petition to hold a new election – reminding us that the unhappy electors’ letter to the DNI isn’t even necessarily the silliest thing going on this week.