Has Trump Finally Crossed the Line With Congressional Republicans?

Even his biggest enablers aren’t willing to support his scheme to delay the election.

When it comes to the November election, Donald Trump is losing and he knows it. That’s why he’s swinging for the rafters—trying to find something that will change or delay the inevitable. As Tony Schwartz said, Trump treats “every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.” To avoid obliteration, the president will do or say anything.

That was made evident when he tweeted this on Thursday morning.

The president has already spread lies about how using mail-in ballots are an attempt to rig the election and refused to say that he will abide by the outcome. But this is the first time he’s publicly broached the idea of delaying the election.

Trump sent that tweet on the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department budget. Senator Kaine used some of his time to question Pompeo about the fact that the president just floated the idea of delaying the election.

The guy who graduated from Harvard Law School suggested that the Department of Justice would make a legal determination on the question of whether the president can delay the election. Surely he knows what the Constitution says about that.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to determine the timing of the election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections, and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the president’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chair of the Administration Committee, which oversees elections.

Some Republicans responded to Trump’s tweet by saying it was a joke.

Others made it clear that a delay is not going to happen.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader…

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr. McConnell said…

“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”

Whether or not the president got the message from his own party’s leaders remains to be seen. He seemed to double down on the idea of delaying the election by pinning his tweet to the top of his Twitter page. So keep an eye on this one. Either Trump and his minions back down, or we might have finally reached the point where the president’s enablers are willing to draw the line.

One additional note: the pushback is not just coming from the president’s congressional enablers. Take a look at what the founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabrisi, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times.

I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate…

President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again.

Better late than never, I guess.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.