In the weeks remaining before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Donald Trump is taking actions — including aiding and abetting murder — to prevent his successor from pursuing diplomacy with Iran.
On November 27, Israel assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist. International law expert Richard Falk called it “an outrageous act of state terrorism.” Although the Israeli government has not claimed credit for the illegal killing, there is little doubt of its culpability. Trump implicitly praised the assassination, retweeting a comment by Israeli journalist and intelligence expert Yossi Melman that the killing was a “major psychological and professional blow” to Iran. This was an “implicit approval if there ever was one,” according to Sina Toossi, a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council.
Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump is monumental. After four years of nonstop cruelty against workers, the poor, people of color, women, LBGTQ folks, immigrants, Muslims, the environment, the climate, and the foreign victims of Trump’s bombs, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
But no sooner did Biden win the election, then centrists in the Democratic Party began blaming the left for the loss of seats in the House of Representatives and the failure to decisively regain control of the Senate.
In fact, progressives played a pivotal role in delivering the presidency to Biden and several congressional races to Democrats as well as turning Georgia and Arizona blue. Now progressives must hold Biden’s feet to the fire and demand that he govern for the 99 percent and not the 1 percent.
Joe Biden has won states worth 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than the 270 needed to win, and received in excess of 5 million more popular votes than Donald Trump. Yet Trump insists the election was stolen from him and he is the victor.
Trump started attacking the election months before it happened. He leveled unsupported charges of massive voter fraud from mail-in ballots to create doubt about the integrity of the election. Knowing that Democrats would cast mail ballots in the midst of the pandemic, Trump told his supporters to vote in person on Election Day to prematurely inflate his vote totals.
When he had an apparent lead on election night, Trump claimed victory and demanded that the vote-counting stop. Sure enough, as the tabulations continued, the mail ballots counted after Election Day put Biden over the top.
As masses of people poured into the streets to celebrate the end of Donald Trump’s fascist rule, the lame duck president’s lawyers were filing frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to nullify Joe Biden’s victory. But none of these suits, even if successful, would change the results of the election.
Shortly after CNN called the election for Biden, Trump said in a statement, “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
First of all, only prosecutors prosecute cases — in criminal court. Private litigants in civil cases are called plaintiffs. And second, anyone who has the money to hire a lawyer can bring a lawsuit about anything. Thousands of legal actions are filed every day, but very few are taken seriously by judges. It’s unclear whether Trump is even paying his hired guns; Rudy Giuliani once said he works for Trump without pay.
Desperate to distract the national discourse from his criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump is promising that a vaccine will be available before Election Day. His vaccine campaign is named “Operation Warp Speed” and there is a real danger that its speed will warp the results. Ironically, the Trump administration is comparing this effort to the Manhattan Project, the highly secret government program to develop the first atomic bomb. “This isn’t a secret government weapon we’re trying to keep from an enemy,” said David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs. “The enemy is the virus. This is actually a rescue mission to save Americans and humanity from the virus.”
Vaccines generally take 10 years to develop, test and distribute. The shortest time it has taken to develop a vaccine is four years. Yet four pharmaceutical companies are in late stages of clinical trials. Pfizer, apparently the front-runner in the vaccine race, says it won’t have results before mid-November. Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson say they hope to have results by the end of the year.
During her Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Amy Coney Barrett refused to say that voter intimidation is illegal, that armed poll watchers are intimidating, that voter discrimination exists, whether the president could deny someone the right to vote based on race or that Congress has a constitutional duty to protect the right to vote.
She refused to affirm that Medicare is constitutional; that married couples should not lose their right to contraceptives; that a Black worker repeatedly called the N-word was subjected to a hostile work environment; that it’s wrong to separate children from their parents at the border; or that marriage equality, the right to consensual gay sex and LGBTQ workers’ rights should be protected. Barrett would not say that human beings are responsible for climate change or that the Constitution requires a peaceful transfer of power.
Three weeks of testimony in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London underscored WikiLeaks’s extraordinary revelation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. But the Trump administration is seeking to extradite Assange to the United States to stand trial for charges under the Espionage Act that could cause him to spend 175 years in prison.
Assange founded WikiLeaks during the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” which was used as a pretext to start two illegal wars and carry out a widespread program of torture and abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo and the CIA black sites. On October 8, 2011, Assange told a Stop the War Coalition rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”
For months, Donald Trump has been mounting a preemptive strike against the democratic election process. He signals his intent to manipulate — indeed, steal — the presidential election in the event that Joe Biden wins. With no evidence to support him, Trump repeats the mantra “voter fraud” to lay the groundwork for political, legal and extra-legal challenges to a Biden victory. In an unprecedented move, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power as he orders right-wing militias armed with assault weapons to “stand back and stand by.”
Now that Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19, all bets are off. After months of recklessly discouraging social distancing and mask wearing, the chickens have come home to roost. Trump has tried mightily to change the subject away from the coronavirus and his criminal responsibility for more than 207,000 deaths and over 7 million people in the United States who have the virus. But with Trump’s infection, that strategy is now dead.
Amy Coney Barrett and Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not be more different when it comes to their respective notions of justice. Ginsburg, a pioneer in the protection of gender equality, spent her entire career, including 27 years on the Supreme Court, fighting for the rights of women, immigrants, people of color, criminal defendants, LGBTQ people, workers, people with mental disabilities and the poor. Barrett seeks to strip health insurance from tens of millions of people and crush reproductive rights.
Donald Trump rushed to nominate Barrett and enlisted his consigliere, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), to ram her nomination through the Senate so she can support Trump’s legal challenges to any election results that favor Joe Biden. Trump, who refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, has been conducting a misinformation campaign about (non-existent) voter fraud and signaling that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” against him with expanded mail-in voting.
When I was sworn in to practice before the Supreme Court in 2007, I sat near the front of the gallery. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the five-foot-tall justice, was barely visible over the bench behind which she sat. On two occasions, Ginsburg visited the law school where I taught for many years. She graciously created the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture Series at our annual Women and the Law Conference, which featured leading feminist scholars.
In all three instances, I was struck by the stark contrast between her diminutive stature and her commanding presence. Now, in death, Ginsburg commands the national discourse. How, when and who will fill her vacant seat promises to have a powerful, even determinative, effect on the election and the future of the Supreme Court itself.