Attorney explains why Trump’s coup attempt came dangerously close to succeeding: 'We should be very worried'

Attorney explains why Trump’s coup attempt came dangerously close to succeeding: 'We should be very worried'

For many older immigrants who fled to the United States to escape oppressive regimes in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa, the aftermath of the United States’ 2020 election brought back painful memories of the type of political instability they had experienced in the past. Former President Donald Trump’s attempted coup was ultimately unsuccessful, but attorney Phil Rotner — in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on January 3 — stresses that Trump came much closer to success than many Americans realize. And the next MAGA coup attempt, Rotner warns, may be successful.

“There are two reasonable ways to look at the 2020 presidential election,” Rotner explains. “The first is that despite a ferocious effort by Team Trump to steal a presidential election, the center held. Electoral votes were certified in accordance with the results of the popular vote in every state, the courts rejected a flood of bogus lawsuits seeking to overturn the election, and Joe Biden was inaugurated…. The second way of looking at 2020 is that the attempted coup came much closer to succeeding than many would admit and was just a dress rehearsal for 2024.”

Rotner continues, “Every way in which the coup failed is correctable by Trump and red state legislatures, who are engaged in a relentless national campaign to put the machinery in place to accomplish what they could not the last time around. The danger to our democracy is real. We should be very worried. Put me squarely in the worried camp.”

The United States’ system of checks and balances held up in late 2020 and early 2021. Rotner notes that although Trump “had loyalists like Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr in key offices, their loyalty only went so far.” But he warns that in the future, Trump loyalists may not have such limits.

“Despite Trump’s failure to thoroughly corrupt the federal and state governments, he came frighteningly close to overturning the election or, at the least, throwing the nation into the mother of all constitutional crises,” Rotner argues. “How close? Trump fell five Rudys short.”

The “Rudy” that Rotner is referring to is, of course, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — a Trump lawyer who went to great extremes to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results.

“Substitute Rudy Giuliani — or Sidney Powell or Jim Jordan or any other Trump cultist — for just five people who held state or federal office at the time of the 2020 election, and think about what might have happened,” Rotner writes. “Put a Rudy in the place of Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia who stood his ground in the face of hellish pressure from the president of the United States and certified Joe Biden’s win in the state. Replace Michigan Board of State Canvassers member Aaron Van Langevelde, who bucked GOP pressure to provide the swing vote to certify Biden’s win in Michigan, with a Rudy.”

Rotner continues, “Make a Rudy the secretary of state of Pennsylvania instead of Kathy Boockvar, who certified Biden’s win in that state. That puts 42 electoral votes in play in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania alone. Forget about Arizona and Wisconsin — Trump wouldn’t need them. He only lost by 38.”

Trump’s game plan, according to Rotner, is to install as many unquestioning loyalists as possible in both federal and state positions.

Rotner explains, “If he’s reelected in 2024, (Trump)…. will appoint a Rudy to every federal position that can impact a presidential election, starting with his selection of a vice president and his appointment of an attorney general…. That won’t help him win in 2024. He’s out of office, so he no longer controls the levers of the federal government. If he’s going to pull off a coup in 2024 from outside the federal government, he’ll need a new bag of tricks. He’ll need to corrupt the states, where the real power lies when it comes to overturning presidential elections.”

Rotner concludes his article by arguing that voting rights bills are not enough — the U.S. needs a constitutional amendment to prevent MAGA cultists from stealing elections.

“We need to make overturning a presidential election unquestionably illegal,” Rotner says. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Constitutional amendments often take years, even decades, to go from an idea to a fully ratified fait accompli. But it’s never going to happen at all if we don’t start sometime. Now would be good.”

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