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Competitive authoritarianism in the Trump administration

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The head of the DOJ’s civil division wanted to issue a formal memo urging Georgia Republicans to overthrow the election:

Top members of the Department of Justice last year rebuffed another DOJ official who asked them to urge officials in Georgia to investigate and perhaps overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in the state — long a bitter point of contention for former President Donald Trump and his team — before the results were certified by Congress, emails reviewed by ABC News show.

The emails, dated Dec. 28, 2020, show the former acting head of DOJ’s civil division, Jeffrey Clark, circulating a draft letter — which he wanted then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue to sign off on — urging Georgia’s governor and other top officials to convene the state legislature into a special session so lawmakers could investigate claims of voter fraud.

“The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States,” the draft letter said. “The Department will update you as we are able on investigatory progress, but at this time we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.”

The draft letter states: “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.

The ridiculous concurrence Rehnquist wrote for Bush v. Goreimagine a legal argument so specious two of the justices who were part of the Bush v. Gore majority wouldn’t sign it! — could be the silver bullet that destroys American democracy. “Gerrymandered Republican legislatures should just declare Trump the winner irrespective of the actual votes” is going to becoming an increasingly dominant position in Republican circles, and it might work next time.

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