Multiple efforts are underway to stop Trump from becoming the next President of the United States. The efforts, coupled with his popular vote loss by the millions, are diminishing the mandate of his presidency before it has even begun. As the efforts swell in strength and potential, so do the efforts of the Trump camp to stop them in recent days. Those efforts include alleged threats against Republican members of the Electoral College according to Salon Magazine.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that at least 20 Republicans meet the definition for faithless electors and have allegedly joined the movement to stop Trump from taking the Oval Office.
One movement underway to stop Donald Trump from becoming president number 45 is the movement of faithless electors. The definition of the faithless electors movement is the movement where members of the Electoral College unbind themselves from their state requirements to vote with the state popular vote when it comes time for the Electoral College to meet on December 19.
When a candidate wins a state on election night, they win some Electoral College votes. Each vote in one state represents one Electoral College member that will vote next week on December 19 for the next president of the United States.
The first candidate that reaches the magical number of 270 is expected to win the Oval Office. Most members of the Electoral College follow suit with their state results from election day. But this year, there is a bit of an Electoral College revolt in progress that is working to stop Trump from taking the oath of the Oval Office on January 20, from both sides of the aisle.
Many states require that their electors vote according to the state’s popular vote. Failure to do so is the definition of becoming a faithless elector.
Some states have penalties for becoming a faithless elector, and some do not. Most penalties are reportedly not more severe than a fine. But Salon Magazine reports a new “political penalty” has arisen as the Trump camp has allegedly been issuing threats to members of the Electoral College if they don’t vote for Donald Trump next week.
The notion of faithless electors stopping Trump from taking the oath of office on January 20 was originally considered a pie in the sky idea, and a long shot. It still is considered a long shot, but the efforts have gone from a notion to a movement, and a large one at that, in a matter of weeks.
The CIA recently revealing that they believe the nation-state of Russia interfered with Elections 2016 has added fuel to this movement, with many members of the Electoral College asking the intelligence community to provide more information on that before they vote on December 19.
Additionally, a Change.org petition has amassed almost 5 million signatures, asking the Electoral College to stop Trump, and install Hillary Clinton, the popular vote winner. As well, a bipartisan group of Americans, including some members of the Electoral College, have written a “Letter to Electors” asking the Electoral College to stop Trump for some reasons.
Some of the reasons they cite are the allegations that Trump has threatened freedom of speech and freedom of the press, that he allegedly condones torture, that he has allegedly entangled himself in foreign business, and, he is “uncomfortably close to the regime in Russia.”
The letter is signed by some members of the Electoral College, as well as esteemed academics, lawyers, Columbia Law School graduates, Harvard graduates, and editors of respected publications, among many others. That list of signatures is also growing daily. These are just some of the many prongs of the movement in place to stop Trump from taking the Oval Office.
And now, Salon Magazine reports that the Trump camp is taking the movement seriously, by threatening members of the Electoral College that if they don’t vote for him come December 19, they will face “political reprisal.” It is unclear what political reprisal the Trump camp has in mind. But it is alleged there will be retaliation against those that follow their Constitutional duty of voting with their conscience.
A Republican member of the Electoral College has spoken with Salon Magazine, on the condition of anonymity.
“We have gotten reports from multiple people that the Donald Trump campaign is putting pressure on Republican electors to vote for him based on future political outcomes based on whether they vote for Donald Trump or not.”
The source told Salon that it was the Republican electors who stated this themselves, saying the threats were not violent in nature but were more of the “career pressure” variety. The impetus behind the actions of the Trump campaign is reportedly believed to be sourced to the movement of the group known as Hamilton Electors, who are working to convince at least 37 members of the Electoral College that are currently pledged to vote for Donald Trump to vote for a different Republican.
If they can convince some Republicans to do so, the Democratic electors would then also vote for a different Republican, rather than casting their vote onto Hillary Clinton, who they are pledged and bound to vote for. If that happens, then the vote for the presidency goes to Congress, who would select the president based on the top three names that got the most Electoral College votes.
That has only happened twice in American history, in 1800, and in 1824. The Hamilton Electors base their beliefs on the Federalist Papers No. 68 written by founding father Alexander Hamilton who wrote that the Electoral College was to correct the mistakes of the people if someone got in that was not qualified for office, or if that person served as a “vessel for the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”
Politico notes in a separate December 13 report that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has been keeping close tabs on the Republican members of the Electoral College, to make sure that they vote for Donald Trump. The RNC reportedly feels they will have the Republican votes come Electoral College day on December 19.
However, it was a Republican Electoral College member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that told Salon those Republican electors are still being threatened with political reprisal if they don’t vote Trump. Additional signs that Trump feels his bid for the presidency is threatened come from the lawsuits Trump has filed himself, against the Democratic electors, according to a separate report by Politico.
Politico reports Trump has already filed motions to intervene in the lawsuits of those electors that are asking their states to remove the binding laws that require them to vote with the state’s popular vote. In California, Vinz Koller, a member of the Electoral College, has brought forth a lawsuit seeking the state to invalidate the law that forces him to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Trump has been permitted to join that lawsuit as a party reports Politico. Although Koller is expected to cast his vote for Hillary Clinton, his hope is that having the state unbind him from doing so would set a legal precedent for the other 28 states that bind electors to the state popular vote. If states liberated their electors, it would make it easier for Republican electors to feel more freedom in meeting the definition of faithless electors and deciding for themselves who to vote for come December 19.
At present, in Oklahoma for example, it is considered a misdemeanor to become a faithless elector. The Oklahoma electors have said they don’t want that crime on their record. If states removed the binding of electors before the Electoral College met, some Republicans might feel more comfortable about not voting for Donald Trump.
At least this was reportedly the intention of Koller’s lawsuit to begin with. Trump was concerned enough about this lawsuit to intervene.
There are similar lawsuits in both Washington state and Colorado. In the end, the judge in the California suit ruled against the unbinding of electors to the state popular vote. But a lawyer for the plaintiff on the suit says, he plans to continue “forging ahead” with his own intentions when the Electoral College votes next week.
As it stands now, the Republican National Committee believes they have the Electoral College votes necessary to lock Donald Trump in as president next week. But, a new report by Politico out yesterday indicated that a Harvard University constitutional law professor, Larry Lessig, says that may not be the case and that as many as 20 Republican electors meet the definition for faithless electors.
Lessig is a former presidential candidate himself and told Politico on Tuesday that as many as 20 Republican members of the Electoral College are considering not voting for Donald Trump. Only 37 members of the Electoral College are needed as “faithless electors” in order for the vote to go to the House of Representatives, meaning if Lessig is right, the movement is more than halfway there.
Lessig’s group is known as “Electors Trust” and he is offering free legal counsel to any member of the Electoral College that wants to become a faithless elector. He told Politico the following.
“Obviously, whether an elector ultimately votes his or her conscience will depend in part upon whether there are enough doing the same. We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote.”
Not many of those Republican Electors that Lessig is in touch with are willing to come forward and identify themselves, for obvious reasons. It does throw the RNC’s whip operation to lock in Trump’s Electoral College vote into question if the multiple branches of the faithless elector movement are past the halfway point to their goal of attaining enough faithless electors to stop Trump.
Those numbers just don’t match up with what the RNC reportedly believes they have in place for Trump December 19. No matter what happens, as more and more members of the Electoral College appear to meet the definition of faithless electors every day, whatever happens at the Electoral College vote next week is definitely going down in the history books.
[Featured Image by Elaine Thompson/AP Images]