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(THREAD) Today Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo unveiled the real nightmare scenario for the 2020 election—and the question of what Trump has legal authority to do has nothing to do with it. I hope you'll read on and retweet—as what I'm describing here is what America is heading for.
1/ Autocracies aren't born in rule of law. They're not even primarily born in violence. Rather they arise *despite* rule of law—often on the strength of a benighted populism, in fact just the sort of populist movement Trump is building now over false fears of a "rigged" election.
2/ The question isn't whether Trump has legal authority to move Election Day and thereby extend his presidency—he doesn't—but a different question: what happens if he just declares that he *does* have this power? And what if he can do so with a false *veneer* of legal legitimacy?
3/ By October 31, Trump's decision not to combat COVID-19 (indeed to worsen the pandemic with every one of his words, actions, and decisions not to act), coupled with an incipient flu season, is likely to send America's COVID-19 data—infections, deaths—into its horrifying nadir.
4/ Meanwhile, Trump has put a crony who's likely a witness in an ongoing federal criminal probe—a man who's a peer of perjurers (and worse) Michael Cohen, Elliott Broidy and Gordon Sondland—in charge of the United States Postal Service. Already, this crony is destroying the USPS.
5/ If, on October 30, COVID-19 is cresting—as it likely will be—and the USPS is less able to deliver mail properly than at any point in recent history, as seems likely (and on Trump's end intentional), Trump's self-manufactured "case" for a national emergency will be at its apex.
6/ Today, Mike Pompeo told us Trump lackey Barr—who has never refused the president anything, who appears to be a Trump co-conspirator in the Ukraine scandal, and who has already shown a penchant for violating the law—gets to decide if Trump can announce a change in Election Day.
7/ Note that each time I use the anodyne euphemism "change in Election Day," what I'm describing is in fact apocalyptic—an artificial extension of the Trump presidency corresponding with the end of American democracy and the beginning of Trump's reign as America's first autocrat.
8/ Barr has already instructed OLC (the Office of Legal Counsel) to produce opinions that violate all existing law (for that matter, we saw that during the prior GOP administration, Bush's, as to torture). Barr can get the OLC to crush a CIA whistleblower—or change Election Day.
9/ I ask anyone reading this to simply play out the following hypothetical—the one I offer in the next tweet—which is "hypothetical" only inasmuch as it takes everything we know about Trump, Pompeo, Barr, COVID-19, and the USPS *right now* and projects it 90 days into the future:
10/ On October 30, Trump announces, with an OLC opinion "granting" him this power in hand, that he is moving the 2020 presidential election 120 days, after which time he will review the nation's ability to safely and securely conduct an election. He announces it via tweet and TV.
11/ Understand that this would be illegal—and wouldn't change election day. But that wouldn't be the point. The point would be to *convince Trump voters not to vote*.

You may have to read the preceding sentence multiple times—it's counterintuitive unless you're a metamodernist.
12/ This thread isn't on metamodernism. All you need to know is that on the day in June 2015 Trump announced his candidacy, I published a HuffPost essay declaring that what made Trump dangerous was his ability to manipulate reality (in a way theorists connect to "metamodernism").
13/ The way to win an unwinnable election, using the sort of powerful reframing of events a certain way of thinking Trump instinctively (not intelligently or responsibly) employs, is not to turn out your voters... but *declare the election invalid once your voters don't show up*.
14/ The purpose of the pre-election Trump announcement I am hypothesizing here would not be to help Trump *win* the 2020 election, but to convince so many Trump voters *not to vote* that the results of the election favor Biden by *so much* the election looks wholly illegitimate.
15/ Imagine a scenario in which, with 3 branches of government—executive, judicial, legislative—you have the executive branch declaring the election was moved, the judicial branch (as yet) silent, and the legislative branch in chaos because no one in the GOP knows what to say/do.
16/ By convincing his voters to stay home—because he's "moved the election"—Trump will have caused every GOP member of Congress to *lose their reelection*, *forcing* them to back his play and say that the election was delayed and therefore Biden didn't actually win on November 3.
17/ The result: an executive branch that says the election was invalid; half the legislative branch (the GOP half) saying the election was invalid; election results that *look* invalid (as Biden has won by 50+ points); and a judicial branch that hasn't—and can't—say anything yet.
18/ In that circumstance, what does "rule of law" even mean? You have a separation of powers issue—a conflict between branches of government—that the Supreme Court *must* hear, and because it's the most complex case ever heard by SCOTUS in US history, it's impossible to expedite.
19/ The mere fact that Trump would have enacted this constitutional crisis just 96 hours pre-election means SCOTUS *can't* speak on it pre-election, and the complexity of the case would throw into chaos *all* state election deadlines. Which is basically the point of Trump's plot.
20/ All Trump needs in this scenario is (a) SCOTUS to move at its usual glacial pace, and (b) GOP-run states (states with GOP secretaries of state running their elections) to *refuse to certify election results* or *choose electors* until the Supreme Court has acted on the issue.
21/ I'm not even sure *Trump* would be the plaintiff in this case—as he and his GOP allies in Congress (and GOP secretaries of state) would so adamantly declare the election results invalid they might wait to make the *Democrats* sue in federal court, making them look desperate.
22/ And how magnanimous Trump will be! He and his GOP allies will offer to *negotiate* with Democrats in lieu of them filing a federal suit. Trump will say, "We have to wait until this invisible plague is under control. That's *all* anyone is asking here." It'll sound persuasive!
23/ Know what'll make it *more* persuasive? Election results so insane-looking—Biden 82%, Trump 15%—they'll make Egypt's el-Sisi blush. Biden will be half-inclined to *agree* with Trump on a do-over—knowing his term as an "illegitimate monarch" may be marked by historic violence.
24/ Right now I need everyone in media; everyone on "legal Twitter"; everyone who's a professional political analyst to comment on this thread—or on your own feeds, it doesn't matter—explaining why this Trump plan wouldn't work. Why it isn't *exactly* what he's setting us up for.
25/ Understand that I didn't develop this thread out of some fever dream. All I did was take statements and actions by Trump, Barr, and Pompeo; the current status of COVID-19 and the USPS (and who controls each); and the way of thinking Trump has exhibited *since June 2015*. /end
PS/ I understand—and empathize with, as a lawyer—those who reply, "Nah, he ceases to be POTUS on January 20th at noon."

Again, that's the view that *law* determines if a coup is successful, not the brute force of populism and logistics—the logic undergirding Trump's actions now.
PS2/ In the scenario I've described, yes, the law would suggest Biden—having won the election 82% to 15%; with less than 270 electoral votes; and with all GOP politicians and all GOP secretaries of state and most GOP voters saying he won a fake election—is the president. So what?
PS3/ What would in mean—in that scenario—for someone to be "president"? And that's the question the five ultra-conservative justices of the Supreme Court would have to decide, probably on a timeline so glacial it couldn't be concluded effectively until early January 2021 at best.
PS4/ More importantly, that's the question *Democrats* would have to decide—and would probably be deciding in the midst of historic Republican protests and threats of violence all across the country. Would *Democrats* consider it their best move to accept that election "victory"?
PS5/ We learned in January '20 that impeachments are about politics, not law—though they're supposed to adhere to rule of law. In January '21 we may learn *elections* are *also* about politics, not law. What happens if Dems must allow a do-over to preserve the peace of our Union?
NOTE/ This scenario works for Trump even if early voting depresses Biden's win to (say) 62% to 36%. It may even work without Barr aboard. It may work if the "don't vote" effort is homegrown, inspired and supported by Trump but not demanded by him. The premise itself is the thing.
NOTE2/ The solution here is for America to publicly discuss this scenario *now*—and invalidate it. GOP politicians must agree to abide by the election results even if Trump convinces his voters not to show up. Barr must state clearly that Trump cannot legally "move" election day.
NOTE3/ Constitutional law experts must play out how SCOTUS would act. Election law experts must do scenario-planning on how misconduct by GOP secretaries of state could be thwarted. Dems must educate Republicans on who's POTUS on January 20 if SCOTUS is still working on a ruling.
NOTE4/ Democrats must announce now that there'll be no "do-over" election—and anyone who opts not to vote is making a decision they must *live by*. Emergency assistance must be provided to USPS. Social media should deem Trump tweets on moving election day "election interference."
NOTE5/ It's amazing to see responses saying "the military wouldn't allow it" or "Pelosi would be POTUS." Again, this sort of coup happens through *politics, rhetoric, and the reframing of reality with GOP pol/voter support*—it has nothing to do with law, violence or the military.
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