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Trump Signals for Pence to Hand Him the Presidency and Overrule Electoral College
President Donald Trump has sent strong signals that he expects Vice President Mike Pence to hand him re-election when Congress meets Jan. 6 to count Electoral College votes.
The vice president will preside over that joint session, and Trump and some of his Republican congressional allies are leaning heavily on Pence to change the outcome of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden, but legal experts Neal Katyal and John Monsky wrote a New York Times column explaining that his authority in that process is fairly limited.
“Nothing in either the text of the Constitution or the Electoral Count Act gives the vice president any substantive powers,” the pair wrote. “His powers are ministerial, and that circumscribed role makes general sense: The whole point of an election is to let the people decide who will rule them. If an incumbent could simply maneuver to keep himself in office — after all, a maneuver to protect Mr. Trump also protects Mr. Pence — the most foundational precept of our government would be gravely undermined. In America, ‘we the people,’ not ‘we, the vice president,’ control our destiny.”
Both Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment say that the votes of the Electoral College are to be opened by the “president of the Senate,” meaning the vice president. The Electoral Count Act, passed in 1887 to avoid chaotic counts like the one that followed the 1876 election, adds important details. It provides a detailed timeline to tabulate electoral votes, culminating with the final count to take place on Jan. 6, and it delineates the powers of the vice president.
“They guarded against any pretense he might have to throw out a particular state’s votes, saying that the vice president must open ‘all certificates and papers purporting to be‘ electoral votes,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “They further said, in the event of a dispute, both chambers of Congress would have to disagree with a particular state’s slate of electoral votes to reject them. And they made it difficult for Congress to disagree, adding measures such as a ‘safe harbor’ provision and deference to certification by state officials.”
All of the president’s legal challenges have lost, and the results have been certified by the states and electors have duly cast their ballots, so there’s nothing Trump or Pence can do to stop their re-election loss under the rules spelled out in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.
“[Pence] now stands on the edge of history as he begins his most consequential act of leadership,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “The question for Vice President Pence, as well as other members of Congress, is which side of history he wants to come down on. Can he show the integrity demonstrated by every previous presidential administration? The American people accept a graceful loser, but a sore loser never goes down well in the history books.”
“Like all those that have come before him, [Pence] should count the votes as they have been certified and do everything he can to oppose those who would do otherwise,” they added. “This is no time for anyone to be a bystander — our Republic is on the line.”
Stone and Manafort Pardons: Trump ‘Could Be Prosecuted for Bribery’
Appearing on CNN Thursday, New York University School of Law professor Ryan Goodman outlined how Trump’s pardons could open him up to criminal prosecution for his obstruction of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
In particular, Goodman outlined how Mueller’s final report outlined an obstruction case based around communications between the president’s lawyers and Manafort indicating that the president would pardon his former campaign chairman if he refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s probe.
“The Mueller report specifically says that Manafort told his deputy, Rick Gates, that Manafort had spoken with Trump’s personal attorney, and it would be stupid to plea and they should sit tight, because, quote, ‘We’ll be taken care of,'” Goodman explained. “The Mueller team concludes that this met all of the elements and did succeed in Manafort failing to cooperate and maintaining his silence.”
Goodman also explained that while the Constitution gives the president broad powers to pardon people, he could still be prosecuted for it if that pardon was used as a reward for obstructing justice.
“If a pardon is part of a crime, then most experts would agree that, in fact, the president could be criminally prosecuted for it,” he said. “Just imagine a president exchanged a pardon for a bribe. Well, most experts agree that the president could then be prosecuted for bribery.”
Watch the video below.
Exposed: The 7 Most Shocking Things In the 5,593 Page Stimulus Bill
On Monday, congressional leaders finally unveiled the text of the coronavirus stimulus package.
The bill is 5,593 pages, meaning it is basically impossible for any member of Congress to read the legislation prior to voting on it this evening.
“Let’s say the vote is at 8 pm in the House, lawmakers could technically read the Covid relief/omnibus bill at a rough rate of about 4 seconds per page,” HuffPost correspondent Tara Golshan reported. “Basically read Infinite Jest five times over and then some in six hours.”
Here are seven shocking facts about the legislation that have been discovered so far.
Five pages on reincarnation
Beginning on page 5099 of the bill PDF file, the bill spends five pages laying out the process for determining who will be recognized as the next reincarnation of the Dalia Lama.
The language on reincarnation was spotted by Lisa Desjardins of PBS news.
Filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will be more difficult.
Unemployed workers seeking PUA will have to provide documentation within 21 days.
David Dayen, the executive editor of The Prospect, says the new rule is “an effective tax on people’s time.
This is what I was afraid of. Like much of the year, the relief comes with unnecessary administrative burdens, an effective tax on people's time. https://t.co/QImPv75NMD
— David Dayen (@ddayen) December 21, 2020
Owners of race horses got a tax break
While Americans will only get up-to $600 in direct financial aid in the bill, racehorse owners will receive a tax break.
The tax break was noticed by Lee Fang of The Intercept.
The so-called 'three martini lunch' tax deduction, used by business to deduct food and beverage expenses, is in there. pic.twitter.com/lOFLc6iYv8
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 21, 2020
If you own a multifamily rental property, ie an apartment building, the coronavirus stimulus legislation has a retroactive tax break for you pic.twitter.com/ATllvyM2cU
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) December 21, 2020
Two new museums will be established
One of the little-notices aspects of the bill is that it will authorize two new museums.
CNN reporter Lauren Fox noticed the bill will establish a new American Women’s History Museum and National Museum of the American Latino.
Fun fact: This omni-stimulus includes the creation of TWO new Smithsonian Museums. American Women's History Museum and National Museum of the American Latino.
— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) December 21, 2020
The new eviction moratorium only lasts for five weeks
Despite the looming eviction crisis, the new bill only extends protections until the end of January.
The length of the eviction moratorium was noted by Elizabeth Landers of Vice News.
as expected, the federal eviction moratorium is extended in this latest relief bill – but only through Jan 31 pic.twitter.com/GZibP9oJ2E
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) December 21, 2020
Stimulus bill decriminalizes unauthorized use of Smokey the Bear
Department of Agriculture propaganda icon Smokey the Bear was also included in the legislation addressing the coronavirus economic crisis.
The legislative language was reported by Erik Wasson of Bloomberg news.
Bill decriminalizes unauthorized use of the Swiss Coat of Arms or Smokey the Bear
— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) December 21, 2020
Stimulus includes “three martini” lunch deductions for corporations
While Americans wait in bread lines, big corporations got the “three martini” tax cut that was pushed by Donald Trump, as reported by Jeff Stein of The Washington Post.
And there it is — as we reported last night, the tax deduction business meals is in the covid relief package for both 2021 and 2022
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) December 21, 2020
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