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Anatomy of a sedition

“Don’t give me the babe-in-the-woods routine, Mitch”

This is a very good deep dive into Trump’s plot to steal the election. November 12 was the key inflection point, where people who could still be plausibly called “lawyers” were replaced by Drunk Uncle Rudy:

Mr. Clark warned that the suit Mr. Giuliani had in mind would be dismissed on procedural grounds. And a state audit was barreling toward a conclusion that the Dominion machines had operated without interference or foul play.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Clark a liar, according to people with direct knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Clark called Mr. Giuliani something much worse. And with that, the election-law experts were sidelined in favor of the former New York City mayor, the man who once again was telling the president what he wanted to hear.

Thursday the 12th was the day Mr. Trump’s flimsy, long-shot legal effort to reverse his loss turned into something else entirely — an extralegal campaign to subvert the election, rooted in a lie so convincing to some of his most devoted followers that it made the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol almost inevitable.

One criticial takeaway is how deeply implicated Mitch McConnell is in all of this:

Throughout, he was enabled by influential Republicans motivated by ambition, fear or a misplaced belief that he would not go too far.

In the Senate, he got early room to maneuver from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. As he sought the president’s help in Georgia runoffs that could cost him his own grip on power, Mr. McConnell heeded misplaced assurances from White House aides like Jared Kushner that Mr. Trump would eventually accede to reality, people close to the senator told The Times. Mr. McConnell’s later recognition of Mr. Biden’s victory would not be enough to dissuade 14 Republican senators from joining the president’s last-ditch bid to nullify millions of Americans’ votes.


But Mr. McConnell knew that by doing so, he would endanger his own overriding political goal — winning the two runoffs in Georgia and maintaining Republican control of the Senate, which would allow him to keep his power as majority leader. If he provoked Mr. Trump’s anger, he would almost certainly lose the president’s full support in Georgia.

As Isaac Chotiner observes, the game here seems to be for McConnell to pretend to be a complete moron and for the reporters to pretend to believe him, because he thinks the babe-in-the-woods-routine will play better than his cynical nihilism. Still, they end up twisting the knife in him pretty well by the end:

The day after the Electoral College certified the votes as expected, Mitch McConnell moved to bring the curtain down. He called the president’s chief of staff, Mr. Meadows, to say that he would be acknowledging Mr. Biden as president-elect that afternoon on the Senate floor.

Mr. McConnell had been holding off in part because of the earlier assurances from Mr. Meadows and Mr. Kushner, and he had been inclined to believe them when Mr. Trump finally freed the General Services Administration to begin the transition. [LOL-ed.] Yet even now, the president was refusing to concede. “This fake election can no longer stand,” he wrote on Twitter. “Get moving Republicans.”

Perhaps most important in Mr. McConnell’s evolving calculus, internal polls were showing that the Republicans’ strongest argument in the Georgia runoffs was that a Republican-led Senate would be a necessary check on a new — and inevitable — Democratic administration.

Amazing coincidence that Mitch would suddenly realize that Jared Kushner would not, in fact, have a Moderating Influence on his father-in-law at the exact time that polls suggested that Trump’s ongoing election theft efforts were making winning the Georgia runoffs less rather than more likely!

We also shouldn’t forget the other elite and elitish Republicans who were in on it from the beginning:

On Fox, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, predicted that Mr. Trump’s supporters would erupt in rage “as they watch Joe Biden’s Democratic Party steal the election in Philadelphia, steal the election in Atlanta, steal the election in Milwaukee.”

On Thursday night, Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, told Laura Ingraham on Fox: “Everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”

Anyway, this is a valuable piece that in a rational universe would lead to Trump’s unanimous conviction.

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