Here's a breakdown of the 3 possible ways Trump could try to steal the election
Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville has been warning that unless former Vice President Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump by more than 5%, Trump will use the courts to "steal the election." And Carville is hardly alone in warning that Trump and his GOP allies have a variety of possible dirty tricks in mind. Journalist Barton Gellman, in a listicle published in The Atlantic on Monday, November 2 — the day before Election Day — outlines three ways in which Trump could attempt to steal the election.
The three possible scenarios that Gellman describes are: (1) "sending the troops," (2) "intercepting the mail," and (3) "the law enforcement option." Biden, Gellman stresses, knows how unscrupulous Trump is, which is why his campaign has an army of Democratic lawyers on hand.
"A wretched presidential campaign has played out at last, but Election Day is not how this story ends," Gellman argues. "Unable to overtake his opponent in the polls, Donald Trump decided months ago to run against the election itself. That race does not conclude when the ballots are counted. Trump has raged against fictional plots to steal his victory, maligning routine procedures such as voting by mail and counting ballots until there are no more to count. His rage will not diminish if he is defeated."
Gellman continues, "Our electoral system was not built to withstand a sustained assault on its legitimacy. We are capable of defending it, but that is a collective enterprise. A healthy start would be to recognize that the assault has yet to begin in earnest. Election Day and the period to follow will be moments of maximum temptation for Trump. Can he find a way to interfere with the tabulation of votes? Impound ballots in the mail? Dispatch armed personnel to quell alleged disturbances in Democratic neighborhoods?"
The journalist stresses that Trump "will not concede defeat" and "will use every means at his disposal to maintain a grip on power." In Scenario #1: Gellman notes, Trump would try using the military to stay in power.
Gellman writes, "Command of U.S. armed forces is among the most potent powers of any president. Could Trump dispatch active-duty forces to Democratic strongholds in swing states — say, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee — with intent to suppress the vote or interfere with the count?.... Could it happen? Not easily, and not likely, but it is not impossible either. If Trump cared at all about conforming to law, he would need a reason under the Insurrection Act of 1807 for the use of troops in domestic law enforcement."
Gellman adds that "Trump, in theory, could seize upon any violence around polling places — even violence touched off by his own supporters — to justify the deployment" and "might even cast his intervention as a bid to protect voters' civil rights."
"Those justifications would be slender reeds, and they would run into a major legal obstacle," Gellman explains. "Trump's power as commander in chief is exclusive, but not unbounded: it is subject to statutory limits."
Trump has repeatedly made the false claim that mail-in voting encourages voter fraud. Describing Scenario #2: Intercepting the Mail, Gellman notes that Trump has gone out of his way to undermine the U.S. Postal Service.
"Trump and his political advisers have good reason to assume that ballots sent by mail are likely to be Biden votes," Gellman observes. "Trump himself is the principal driver of that skew, because he has equated absentee voting with fraud — and many of his supporters believe him. It might be in Trump's interest, then, to interfere with the delivery of those ballots. Could he?"
Gellman continues, "Experts considered one scenario that the Biden team has gamed out. John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, passes word that top-secret information suggests an effort by China to forge absentee ballots — a risk that Attorney General Bill Barr has publicly raised as a matter of 'common sense.' The report reaches Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major campaign contributor to Trump. DeJoy instructs the chief of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to halt the delivery of ballots sent by mail. Here, even a temporary delay is strategically valuable to a sufficiently ruthless president. Twenty-eight states require that absentee ballots arrive by Election Day; the other 22 have deadlines within a few days."
Describing #3: The Law Enforcement Option, Gellman notes, "In this scenario, federal authorities would purport to be investigating voter fraud and take steps to stop the counting. There is not much plausible authority to do that under federal law, but the law would not really be the point. If the FBI or U.S. Marshals showed up at a county election board with orders to seize the ballots, local officials would probably comply.
Biden's vast legal team, Gellman stresses, has been going over a wide range of dirty tricks that Team Trump might pull.
"Behind the scenes, they are preparing for the worst," Gellman explains. "A special working group of high-powered lawyers led by three former solicitors general — Walter Dellinger; Donald B. Verrilli Jr.; and a recent addition, Seth Waxman — has overseen a massive planning exercise for rapid responses to dozens of scenarios in which Trump tries to interfere with the normal functioning of the election. Thousands of pages of legal analysis, according to an authoritative campaign source, have been boiled down into 'template pleadings' for at least 49 pre-drafted emergency motions in state or federal court."