Will Trump defraud the Electoral College, face trial or flee the Country?

Ruben Rosenthal, from Rio de Janeiro.     12/12/2020 

As the voting day at the Electoral College approaches, can new surprises still occur on the political scene in the United States? In the last weeks conspiracy theories have found fertile ground to spread with the help of trumpist  social media. 

kraken
The mythical monster Kraken gave its name to the conspiracy theory that aimed to sink the ship of Democrat Joe Biden \ Art: courtesy Getty Images

The United States are in an unprecedented situation due to Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat in the presidential election. Even with Biden already forming of his secretariat, Trump remains accusing Democrats of widespread electoral fraud. As local courts have been rejecting most fraud claims raised by the Trump camp, the battleground now reaches the Supreme Court where conservative Justices holds a 6 to 3 majority. But Trump may not even get support from the three Justices he appointed, as the Court has unanimously denied an argument from Pennsylvania Republicans that universal mail-in voting is unconstitutional by a 2019 state law.  

In another recent attempt to reverse Biden’s victory, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton filed on December 8 a lawsuit at the Supreme Court against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wiscosin, aiming to invalidate election results at those States. Paxton accuses election officials of failing to protect mail-in voting from fraud when states (supposedly) “used the pandemic as an excuse to unlawfully change their election rules”.  

Meanwhile, the majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed on to an amicus curiae brief in support of Texas lawsuit asking the US Supreme Court to effectively overturn the results of the 2020 election. Again the Supreme Court decision has not favored Trump, ruling on December 11 that “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections”.

The main reason for the Republicans siding with Trump in challenging the elections results is probably related to the two seats for the Senate that are at stake in Georgia. In case the Democratic Party takes control of both Houses, pressure would amount form the progressive side to reverse conservative rule in the Supreme Court. Such control was achieved during Trump Administration, as a result of immense lobbying from billionaires and large corporations.

As the voting day at the Electoral College approaches, can new surprises still occur on the political scene in the United States? In the last weeks conspiracy theories have found fertile ground to spread with the help of trumpist  social media.

Dominion voting machines. On November 12, Trump quoted a report from conservative One American News (OAN) when he tweeted that Dominion’s voting equipment software deleted 2.7 million of his votes and transferred 435,000 votes from him to Joe Biden. However, a joint committee of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Department of Homeland stated that “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised”. A few days later, CISA director Christopher Krebs was fired by Trump. 

On November 17, the BBC published the article “USA Elections 2020: Is Trump right about Dominion machines?”, presenting a detailed analysis of accusations raised against Democrats that ranged from vote exclusion to inadequate influence over the Dominion company by political opponents of Trump, including the radical left. The BBC found no evidence that the allegations were true.

dominium machines
Voting and counting machines with Dominion software \ Photo: courtesy Getty Images

However, unlike previous reports of fraud which were met with widespread skepticism at home and abroad, the conspiracy theory involving Dominion has gained some support in the independent media. Some political analysts believe that there could have been electoral fraud favoring Biden on Dominion’s voting machines. Several articles on the subject were published on the Global Research website, with positions both for and against the involvement of Democrats in massive electoral fraud.

Among those who support the view that pro-Biden electronic fraud has occurred is independent journalist Brett Redmaine-Titley. He wrote on November 19 that the integrity of the electronic voting system should be a matter of concern, as it would be unlikely (though not impossible) that Democrats could lose seats in the US House and legislatures and, at the same time, Biden defeat Trump in the Presidential elections. The author considers that possibly “3% of the total votes have been altered in the digitally collected pre-election ballots”, mainly in the machines provided by Dominion.

The voting machines conspiracy theory has taken on new, even more surprising, outlines to the delight of QAnon supporters: the Dominion fraud would have involved support from the CIA and DoJ, with a military confrontation taking place in Germany. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who until recently was part of Donald Trump’s official legal team, has helped to bring attention to the so-called “Kraken conspiracy”.

Kraken conspiracy theoryKraken is the name of a gigantic sea monster from Scandinavian folklore, which rises from the ocean to devour its enemies. In March 2017, Wikileaks revealed documents that they dubbed “Vault 7”, exposing the CIA’s hacking tools, including the infrastructure used to develop the “Kraken” program. Still in 2017, based on thousands of documents exposed by Wikileaks, Deutsche Welle reported that the US consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, was used as a remote base for the CIA to start hacking attacks in Europe, China and the Middle East.

Back to 2020, on November 13, the right-wing website The Gateway Pundit quoted Texan Republican MP Louie Gohmert, to spread the word that “US army forces seized servers in a Frankfurt office of software company Scytl, based in Barcelona”. The article attempts to link Scytl to Dominion, Soros and Bill Gates. Trump supporters were quick to propagate the new conspiracy theory that the CIA used the Kraken hacking program to defraud the 2020 presidential election.

Correlating information from the documents revealed by Wikileaks in 2017 with the recent US elections, Trump supporters wrote: “It seems that the CIA was using the same foreign data center to hack the United States elections… and it was caught. This may be why, as The Gateway Pundit reports, the CIA was kept completely out of the server attack operation, according to rumors in Germany.” And added: “The army’s action was probably directed against the location of the servers controlled by the CIA itself, from where the remote hacking operation by Dominion-Scytl was carried out on election night!” The Associated Press news agency denied the veracity of the information, saying that the army refuted such operation occurred. The Spanish company classified the information as fake news, denying that it had offices or servers in Frankfurt.

Dominium voting machines in orange
Jurisdictional distribution of voting machines by supplier. Dominion appears in orange. \ Source: The Business of Voting / University of Pennsylvania, Penn Wharton

As reported by the BBC, the word “Kraken” was used by lawyer Sidney Powell when describing the arguments she was putting together to prove that the frauds committed by Democrats are like “a Kraken, that when released would destroy the case of Democrat Joe Biden having won the presidency of the United States”. Pro-Trump groups, including supporters of QAnon  conspiracy theory, broadened the idea with the hashtag #ReleaseTheKraken. The BBC also stated that the documents presented by Powell enclosing almost 200 pages consisted predominantly of conspiracy theories and baseless allegations that had already been rejected.

To add one more ingredient to the cauldron of conspiracies fostered on Trump’s social media, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney in an interview for WVW-TV presented a version that American soldiers died in the attack on the CIA facilities in Frankfurt, when US Special Forces would have captured Dominion’s servers. Despite disavowal of the Army Special Operations Command, McInerney maintained his version. 

McInerney also stated that the mission had been unveiled by the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, known as the Kraken. For the Lieutenant General the Kraken battalion worked together with lawyer Sidney Powell and Trump: “The President employed the Kraken because he did not trust the DOJ, FBI nor CIA, as they are on the Deep State’s side.”

The video of McInerney‘s interview for WVW-TV also includes an interview of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, recently pardoned by Trump. Flynn, who had admitted to lying to the FBI about previous contacts with the Russian ambassador, now asks Trump to suspend the US Constitution and declare martial law to re-run the election.

On December 1, William Barr, United States Attorney General and Trump’s faithful ally, declared that the Justice Department did not see any evidence of widespread electoral fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 presidential race. The allies appear to abandon the Trumpist camp, despite the new conspiracy theories about the alleged frauds committed by Democrats. 

Trump’s motivations to challenge the election results. For some political analysts Trump wants to stir up confusion in order to interfere in the selection of voters for the Electoral College. The definition of the slates will take place on December 14, while the final result will only be known on January 6. In case Trump succeeds to reverse the popular vote that would amount to a coup. 

For some, the president actions would have the intent to preserve his influence in the Republican party as well as to weaken the future Biden administration. Even though Trump was also defeated in the total vote count, he managed to surpass the impressive 74 million vote mark, the second largest in the history of the country’s elections. Giving his supporters the message that he was only defeated because the elections were rigged by the other candidate’s party could help Trump maintain his political power in the Great Old Party (GOP).

Investigative journalist Jane Mayer, of The New Yorker, wrote in her article “Why Trump can’t afford to lose”, that Trump fierce attempts to stay in the presidency could be much more than just a matter of attachment to power. When the President steps down he will lose his present immunity. He currently faces more than 12 criminal investigations and civil suits which could lead to his arrest. Most charges relate to various types of offenses committed before his term, such as bank fraud, insurance fraud, tax evasion, among others.

While using his presidential powers to pardon himself would be quite controversial, it is otherwise most unlikely that Trump would be at all pleased to get the presidential pardon from Biden. According to Mayer, Donald Trump could do like Richard Nixon who obtained the presidential pardon of Gerald Fordthe vice-president who replaced Nixon in 1974 after his resignation. Trump would only need to leave power temporarily, just for Vice Mike Pence to take over and pardon him. However, State charges are not covered by presidential pardon, as Mayer detailed at her article.

Trump'a airplane
Trump’s luxurious Boeing 757: is the flight plan to flee the country ready? \ Photo: AP

Escape from the country would be an alternative as Trump could well run his business outside the United States. For Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University, Trump is very likely to abscond to some country without an extradition treaty with the United States. “Unless you are an idiot, you will already have a flight plan ready”, added the professor.

In case Trump still have an ace up his sleeve and succeeds to reverse Biden’s victory, protests will certainly spread all over the country. That possibly explains why Trump sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who opposed the use of federal troops against civilians, and nominated for his place Christopher Miller, former head of National Counterterrorism Center. Quo vadis, America?

The author is a Brazilian independent blogger and political analyst, and holds a PhD from London University. 

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