What's Going On with the Electoral College Right Now?
I don’t really like reporting on the possibilities that the Electoral College might courageously save the republic next week by choosing not to rubber stamp Donald Trump into office. I think the odds of it happening are minuscule. However, there have been a few things that have made it ever-so-slightly more likely (though, still nothing to get one’s hopes up about, because the political parties still control the Electoral College).
First off, now that Donald Trump has stated that he will continue to maintain an ownership stake in his company, it’s obvious now that he’ll never be able to unravel his business conflicts, which theoretically would make him unqualified for the position (beyond his existing disqualifications).
Moreover, the CIA has weighed in to suggest that Russia tampered with the election to tilt it toward Donald Trump. We don’t know if Donald Trump conspired with the Russians, but there’s enough here that the Electoral College at least needs to know the facts before they make a decision. That’s why a group of at least 10 electors, including one Republican, has demanded an intelligence briefing before they register their votes.
I don’t know if it is helpful or unhelpful (because it lends credibility to Trump’s position that the intelligence community is partisan), but John Podesta — campaign manager for the Clinton campaign — has weighed in to express support for the intelligence briefing, as well.
BREAKING: @johnpodesta says Clinton campaign backs effort to get Electoral College voters intel briefing on Russian interference— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) December 12, 2016
These electors are also separate from another group of “Hamilton Electors,” who are seeking to persuade at least 37 electors pledged to Trump to throw their support behind another candidate in the hopes that Trump doesn’t reach the 270 mark and the decision is left to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. (In that case, Pence, John Kasich, or perhaps even Paul Ryan could be chosen as President). A couple of lawsuits have now been brought in order to free electors in 29 states from requirements that they vote for the candidate who won their state’s popular vote.
For what it’s worth, Robert Reich also said that he took phone calls from several electors over the weekend who have expressed doubts that Trump should be chosen by the Electoral College.
My guess is that most of these electors filing lawsuits, asking for intelligence briefings, or expressing a desire to change their votes are Democrats and that, ultimately, they’ll never amass enough electors to change the outcome.
That said, it’s still a week away, and the way things have been snowballing in recent days, a few more revelations or potential scandals might create some movement, though it is unlikely that Hillary Clinton will ever be granted the Presidency, despite nearly 3 million more popular votes. It is more likely the vote goes to the House, and it would be fascinating to see if House Republicans override the Electoral College’s override and choose Trump anyway, or if they might disregard the will of their party and choose someone more to their liking.
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