Trump’s Phone Call

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Trump’s Phone Call
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Top story from the Wall Street Journal: “President Trump in a Saturday telephone call urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the November election results that delivered the state to President-elect Joe Biden. At one point in the roughly hour-long call, Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger that he could face legal action and said he wanted him to find nearly 12,000 votes so he could reverse Mr. Biden’s victory.” Here’s what both sides are saying about the phone call:

On the Left: Democrats and left-leaning outlets believe the call is what “coup fever looks like,” as Timothy L. O’Brien writes for Bloomberg Opinion. In a news piece from the New York Times, Peter Baker adds that “President Trump’s relentless effort to overturn the result of the election that he lost has become the most serious stress test of American democracy in generations, one led not by outside revolutionaries intent on bringing down the system but by the very leader charged with defending it.” Bloomberg’s O’Brien begins by saying: “Like the little boy haunted by ghosts in the horror movie ‘The Sixth Sense,’ President Donald Trump sees dead people everywhere. He thinks at least 5,000 of them voted in Georgia during the presidential election and were part of a broader conspiracy that deprived him of a victory in the state.” In regard to the phone call, O’Brien believes it “memorialized what corruption and a desire to orchestrate a political coup sound like,” and says “Trump has been at this for decades, so there’s nothing surprising here.” What’s surprising to O’Brien, however, is “… how easily Trump continues to corrupt so many around him.” O’Brien says “too few in his party are willing to tell the president… that reality doesn’t comport with his lies.” Baker of The Times outlines other calls Trump has made to Republican leaders in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan as well, saying “Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior has so alarmed military commanders who fear he might try to use troops to stay in the White House.” O’Brien concludes by saying the “administration that began in the shadow of an ‘Access Hollywood’ tape is winding down in the shadow of an Access Georgia tape.”

On the Right: Conservatives and right-leaning commentators are split. Some think the call wasn’t great, others think this is just another example of media over-reaction and deflection. Georgia conservative commentator Erick Erickson is an example of someone who thought, “[The] phone call is bad” as he tweeted. Erickson told POLITICO that it could have dampened turnout in Georgia’s special election yesterday. Others disagree, however. Raheem Kassam of the National Pulse believes, the “Trump call actually reveals a president deep into detail, [while] establishment Republicans are dismissive, unwilling, and rejecting transparency.” Kassam says “throughout the call, the President makes clear that his calls are for election transparency, full and transparent audits, and public access. At no point does the President imply he wants votes invented or confected, as the establishment media is portraying.” Finally, Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, argued on his show Monday night that the liberal media uses recorded calls from Trump to distract from more important matters. Carlson first points to the call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment inquiry. He says, while America was focused on Trump’s trial, COVID was slowly spreading around the globe. Carlson then points to the latest call saying, it was released to distract voters from the Georgia US Senate elections yesterday. Carlson then aired bodycam footage of Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock’s estranged wife during a domestic dispute in March saying, “it’s been roundly ignored because domestic abuse isn’t relevant when powerful Democrats commit it, apparently. By the way, what does Raphael Warnock have to do with Donald Trump’s phone call? Nothing. So just relax.”

Flag This: Whether you agree with Peter Baker or Tucker Carlson, the phone call exacerbates the fractured nature of the GOP. The left is united in terms of their reaction. It’s a “coup” and “threatens the very nature of Democracy.” The right isn’t so sure, however, and this is something we’ve seen since mid-November. Congressional leaders and cable networks are being forced to choose between some sort of old-school conservatism (Fox News and Mitch McConnel) or a post-Trump GOP (Newsmax and Josh Hawley). The cohort of conservatives, including Tucker Carlson, who are not happy with the Republican party is growing louder every day. In fact, a new-ish party seems to be emerging, one that could arguably be called the MAGA Party, which is why we included the various views on that acronym in our quick hitters section above. Today’s electoral college objection from more than a handful of Republicans will highlight this divide on prime time.