PODCAST: Post Election Reflections 2020

By Fiona O'Brien | November 24, 2020 10:21pm

The week after the election, Beacon reporter Fiona O’Brien and a reporter on the Elections Data team for Associated Press, Rachel Rippetoe, joined Political Science professors Gary Malecha and Bill Curtis to discuss the unprecedented political race.

Graphic by Molly Lowney

Media Credit: Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Fiona O’Brien  0:06  

This podcast was recorded on November 12, about a week and a half after the election. However, the topics discussed are still extremely relevant and will be extremely relevant in the next couple of months. Some of these include the stability of our democracy as it relates to these elections, as well as the transfer of power and some of the very important topics that we are facing today, such as the Coronavirus, climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Hi, everyone. My name is Fiona O'Brien. I'm a news reporter with The Beacon and I'm here with Rachel Rippetoe, former editor in chief for The Beacon and also working with the election data team for AP (Associated Press). I'm here with Dr. Malecha, political science professor, as well as Dr. Curtis, another political science professor here today to talk about this crazy election and different possibilities and what has happened in the past seven days. So Rachel, do you want to give us some context into this election and what has been going on?

Rachel Rippetoe 1:06  

I'm sure I'm sure most people have probably read it on their Twitter feeds, but Joe Biden won the election. Congrats! He, obviously there was like, a lot of mail in ballots and there was going to be uncertainty no matter what. And I know, a lot of different people had different expectations about whether the election was going to get called on November 3, or if it was going to get called weeks or days later. Because there were so many mail-in ballots that didn't get counted necessarily on Election Day, though a lot of votes did get counted on election day. And it seems like at the time, Joe Biden had the lead. But there were some key states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona that still needed more counting to see if he had won the 270. And then it was on Saturday morning that it was counted, I guess Pennsylvania, mostly all the votes came in. And then Nevada got called as well and Joe Biden won. But the President has yet to concede he has got a bunch of different lawsuits tied up in different states and is basically contesting the results of the race. And he's had some key cabinet members and people in this administration who are agreeing with him. And I think maybe three republican congress members have said that Biden won. Um, so it's interesting times, and that's why we're all here today is to talk about what's going to happen. Are we going to be in a civil war where, you know, is Trump gonna stay in office? Is he going to run in 2024? I don't know why we're here.

O’Brien 2:48  

And Dr. Curtis, do you want to elaborate a little bit on why he hasn't conceded? What happens if the president doesn't continue? Like, what what is the, what are the logistics behind that?

Bill Curtis 2:59  

He did? He's Donald Trump, Fiona. Now, um, I mean,

O’Brien  3:07  

Like, what's gonna happen?

Curtis  3:09  

Well, you know, it's funny, you guys probably saw that somebody asked Joe Biden, you know, what happens if the president doesn't, doesn't want to leave. And he said, you know, the US, the American government has the power to remove transpower ambassadors from the White House, which I thought was pretty funny. More or less, that's what he said, um, uh, you know, one would hope that, that given that, no doubt, the results are good. Nobody really has too many doubts that the results are going to hold up. He, one would hope that he would get enough pressure from people around him to bow out. I keep, I have this fantasy that somebody who's listening to, which sort of switches, and who knows who he's listening to, says to him, ‘Hey, you know, hey, I recognize you had to say all the stuff about this election being stolen and everything because your base likes that and so forth. But really, when you think about it, you're a multi million dollar media deal awaits you. And then you can go and do that and be on a show and pop off on Twitter and do all this stuff that you like to do. You can hold rallies, you know, all that stuff. And, you know, you don't have to do if you're, if you're in that position, you don't have to govern, which you didn't like anyways.’ Right. So, and then he would go ahead and leave. Uh, you know, we'll see. I guess, you know, from the other standpoint, there's been some people who have said, well, you know, Stacey Abrams, condesa, contested the election in Georgia. The governor election in Georgia, was that in 2018, right and wanted recounts and refused to accept her loss course then again, she wasn't an incumbent at the time. But I you know, it's Donald Trump. I expect the unexpected. I don't want to prognosticate as to how all this works itself out. We just Fingers crossed. It's peaceful. And, you know, we get off to a new start here. Come the new administration

O’Brien  5:09  

And do you want to elaborate a little bit on the lawsuits that he has filed in these states? And why he's doing it? And what's going to happen with them?

Curtis 5:18  

Well, he's doing if you want to, cuz he's a fighter, you know? No, um, you know, it's pretty predictable. Right? I mean, you would have imagined that he was not going to take a loss lightly. And not that any presidential candidate does, but that he would be unorthodox in his refusal to accept electoral defeat. And but you know, I mean, these are, it's not like he's doing anything illegal here. I don't I hopefully, hopefully, I don't have to qualify that by saying yet, but he certainly is within his rights to file these lawsuits, they may end up being dismissed as fairly frivolous. But there are lawsuits. You know, as I mentioned earlier, we were talking before the podcast one is, and again, I'm forgetting whether this is Michigan or Pennsylvania, but his legal team is claiming that the vote calculation is Pennsylvania, that the courts should order the counting of votes to stop. And of course, we know in Pennsylvania, it was such an interesting race, almost calculated the way that they tabulate votes, and by the way, votes come in to freak out democrats because Trump was up by like, 75%, you know, but of course, with only a small portion of the votes in Pennsylvania counted, and all the blue democratic votes counted late in, you know, the Philadelphia area and so forth, end up vaulting Biden into the lead by a bit. Um, and so it looks like his leads are probably going to continue as they are, they've done counting yet. I'm not even sure yet. But in any case, when he filed the suit, it was to stop the counting, because the counting was going to increase by or maybe even get by in the lead when he filed the suit. And their claim was that there weren't observers of the election counting the ballots from both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, or they didn't they hadn't been provided evidence, the campaign hadn't been provided evidence that this was the case. By Pennsylvania law, you have to have these observers, but but also by Pennsylvania law, that it doesn't say that you have to provide that evidence to the campaign. And moreover, it's unclear why the court would stop the counting. You know, it's only if there was evidence that there was an observer, then maybe some of the votes wouldn't be counted or wouldn't, wouldn't be valid. But there's no evidence of that. And so both what they're alleging, and the remedy they want they seem to be seeking would both seem to not have much of a foundation in law. 

Rippetoe 7:06

So I think it's probably safe to say that none of these lawsuits will result in a finding of massive voter fraud, like some of Trump and his people claim. But I but I have a question. I mean, I, what I obviously it's a show, and that's what everyone says all the pundants, you know, he's putting on a political show, and why he's doing it other than ego is kind of unclear. But what even though that this won't, even though this won't results, necessarily and throwing out the results or throwing out any votes or any win for Trump, what does it do to faith in institutions faith and voting, when the President of the United States is saying that there's massive voter fraud with no base and is, you know, refusing to accept these results? What does it do to future elections? or future voting faith in American democracy?

Rippetoe 8:48  

That's my question.

Curtis  8:50  

I'll let Dr. Malecka

Gary Malecha  8:51  

Yeah, that's an interesting question. You know, the lost poll I saw however was showing that most people think that Joe Biden won the presidency, you know, that that's only a small fraction of the population, you know, feel that there was enough fraudulent activity that would have turned the election the other way? You know, it's really hard, you know, they may have some long term corrosive effects in terms of the base. But my suspicions are that this is going to play out for a little bit longer, you know, that Trump is, Dr. Curtis pointed out being Donald Trump there is there's nothing in the constitution that says that he has to concede the race. There's nothing in the constitution that says that he's got to go to the inauguration, which he probably will not do. I mean, other presidents have chosen not to go. john john adams, for example, decided to skip town and not go to town Jefferson's inauguration. There's nothing you know, to to say that presidents haven't in the past claimed that the election has been stolen from them. I think of the election. Should have 1824, for example, you know, Andrew Jackson, you know, the current bargain. I mean, I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many Jacksonian Democrats were making the claim that the White House was stolen from their candidate. So a lot of this that we're seeing, we're looking at in terms of the largest sweep of American history is not wholly unprecedented. It might be novel in terms of our situation right now, you know, because we haven't seen anything like this. And in the past, we have seen, you know, really the candidate who's lost, decide to go ahead and concede Richard Nixon, for example, really set the standard in 1968. In which, you know, there was there was, at least, you know, some evidence that, you know, there was some fraudulent activity, like in places in Cook County, that might have cost him the election, but Nixon, you know, felt that for the good of the country, you know, I've got to go ahead and throw in the towel, and, you know, offer my concession. And we've seen subsequent presidents do that. Trump is different. And we know that I mean, he's governed that way he's behaved that way. And the fact of the matter is, is that in this post election environment, that he would continue to do that, you know, it doesn't seem to me to be all that extraordinary, I think, you know, one of the things that Dr. Curtis pointed out is that Donald Trump is also thinking about, you know, what's going to happen a couple of years down the road, you know, how is he going to be able to monetize what it is that he's done? You know, we know, for instance, that his businesses have suffered as a consequence of the last four years, we also know that he has a desire to maintain relevance, possibly even running for the presidency, again, if you think about it. Donald Trump four years from now, I think will be roughly the age that President [Elect] Joe Biden is. So you know, he wants to maintain his relevance. And a lot of Republicans are inclined to come out front and center and criticize the president, because there are a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump got more votes than any other individual except Joe Biden, in terms of American history, what 70 million people voted for him. And so there are a lot of Republicans who know that there are still people in their base, who still feel strongly about Trump. A lot of Republicans also know that there's another big election, that's going to be coming up on the fifth of January, that's going to determine the control of the Senate. And they don't want to do anything to screw that up. They want to make sure that they're not going to poke the bear in such a way that he responds in a way that would undermine their ability to win the Senate. In fact, one of the things we don't talk a lot about in this election is, is the fact that the Democratic Party did not perform as anticipated. In fact, underperformed and lost seats in the House of Representatives, and, did not pick up many of the seats that they were projected to win in the Senate. And currently the worst case scenario right now is a 50/50 Senate, the Republicans could continue to control the Senate. That means that Joe Biden's future for the next two years, at least, is going to be a lot more difficult than it would have been and democrats succeeded, as well as a lot of the prognosticators we're anticipating, it's going to be tough, there's going to be some difficulties in the House of Representatives, we've already seen that internal fights in the house. You can bring parties together with the opposition, because they have, you know, someone to point to someone to concentrate their attention on. But when they're in charge, things get a lot more difficult. And there are some internal divisions in the democratic party that have been papered over or been overcome, that have erupted, you know, in the course of the last two to three weeks, and that's going to be a real challenge. It's going to be a real challenge. I think in terms of what Joe Biden's gonna do as president in terms of some of the nominees, the likelihood of a Bernie Sanders as Secretary of Labor, or Elizabeth Warren as Secretary of Treasury would have been considerably greater had that blue wave appeared that blue wave didn't the appear and it got a lot more difficult if Joe Biden's working with the with the Republican Senate to push more progressive members And to those high profile cabinet positions, what can I ask?

Rippetoe 15:06  

What do you think accounted for that blue wave not happening? Because I mean, I've seen in a lot of different discourse on Twitter, but it seems to be that the candidates that were pushed by the democratic party or the DNC that were more centrist candidates that were meant to appeal to both sides of the aisle, were largely the case. And it's At last it was progressive candidates in Missouri or New York, who ended up winning their races against, we know, opponents who had a lot of money

Malecha 15:37  

That depends on the constituency you come from, it's easy for some of these progressives to win when you have, you know, a really liberal district to come from their party. It's a but but that but that also is not, you know, a completely centrist or conservative district, even if it's a lot more difficult for someone like emax rolls, you know, who's got who's who's, who's running the district, and Trump wins. And you know, that there are enough, if you go in and take a look at the garlin house representatives, you got what 435 districts, um, those 435 districts what, maybe 55 are competitive? So that means that districts swing either one way or the other. There are very few in the middle, you know, that people are going to go ahead and contest. And those are the ones that you got to go out and find candidates who are going to appeal to those districts. So something that Rahm Emanuel did when he was in the House of Representatives, you got to find that the candidate who can win the old conservative saying by Bill Buckley, when it came to conservatives, always try to find the the most conservative person who can win in that district, or the most liberal person who can win in that district, not the most liberal person, but the person who is going to be with you, let's say 70% of the time does no good. You know, when you go ahead and lose the district, and you have really not much, you know, in this case, it would do no good for progressive to try to take out someone like Joe Manchin because walk, progressives are not going to carry the state of West Virginia, there's just not going to happen.

Curtis 17:30  

Red districts are redder and blue ones are bluer. And it's probably going to be worse for the Democrats, given how, at least in the near future, given how the state races and state legislatures have ended up because republicans arguably have the balance of power in redistricting. Right. 

Malecha 17:50  

That's another reported story is just talking well, republicans did in state legislative races, and even in terms of governors, you know, what they picked up on a governor's seat? You know, there was the expectation that they would be able to, to change what's happening in places like Texas, it just didn't happen. And, you know, they really underperformed, I think what the expectations were there, that Joe Biden is now in a position that Bill Clinton was in, when he was elected that George W. Bush was in, you know, coming into the Congress. Well, I mean, you're probably going to be slightly better off in the Senate. But you may not control the Senate, but you've lost ground in the House of Representatives.

Curtis 18:45  

Gary, the result must be a product of the Republicans, with their big deep pockets, outspending the Democrats, for sure. That must be it.

Malecha 18:53  

That's not the case! You know, and eventually, we see, you know, what, does money make a difference? You know, there's I have to reach a certain threshold, but, you know, one of the things we discover is that, you know, money just just ain't gonna ain't gonna cut it. I'm thinking of the senatorial candidate.

Rippetoe 19:23  

Well, does redistricting play a bigger role than money in some of these, in some of these cases, does gerrymandering, and sort of...

Malecha 19:32  

I think two things regard to gerrymandering. I think it does, though, Senate seats are never gerrymander. Yeah, you can spend I mean, ask Lindsey Graham, for example, Does, does. I mean, he certainly was, he certainly came under an avalanche of bad publicity, but it didn't take them out. And they spent a lot of money to try to win that race. Yeah, I started to think that redistricting has a greater impact. But we also have to keep in mind that if you weren't politically drawing the lines in a way as to maximize support for your party's position, it's still hard to draw districts, given the demographics of this country. There's a book written maybe a decade ago called The Big Sort, you know, talking about how people just sort of moved around the country. And what happens is that people move to places where there are other people who think like, fam, they're comfortable doing it, it's just kind of what happened. And, and, you know, so I think even even if you try to be objective, it's hard sometimes to come up with really competitive districts.

Rippetoe 20:56  

Oh, well, then you have states like Georgia, right? Where I think the statistic was amazing. It was like 35% of the population that were not registered to vote. By the time Stacey Abrams' effort had ended, it was 3%. You know, so and then then that state all of a sudden became in play, right? So I mean, how much of that is happening in other states where we have these, whatever it is that's keeping people out of the game, or out of the voting process, or out of the electoral process is starting people who are clear, sort of movers, shakers, and movers in the states are making that not true. So I mean, do you see that happening is that the best way forward for the Democratic Party is to have all the Stacey Abrams and every other state come out of the woodwork and register people to vote? I mean, what do you think is the best way forward for Democrats? If it's not money, and it's not redistricting?

Malecha  21:53  

Well, I’ll let Dr. Curtis answer that one. I've been talking enough here.

Curtis 21:58  

Oh, what's the I mean? Boy, um, I mean, certainly, obviously, right. If Democratic candidates can get out, get Democratic voters out, that'll help. I mean, you know, the real problem with both parties are trying to find a consensus. You know, on the one hand I know better than to say what I'm going to say, because you know, that I'm a big believer that politics so often isn't about policy. But clearly, it is more about sort of tribalism. These tribes also key off of policy noises that politicians make. Right. And, um, and so the big question becomes, then is what sort of coalition can the democrats put together? Obviously, had Obama put together a coalition, which then didn't show up for Clinton in 2016? I think we're still waiting sort of to find out what's happening by and of course, one of the big stories here is how Trump actually did better with voters of color than he did last time. Biden, obviously still won popular African American popular vote the Latino vote by a lot, but Trump managed to increase them. And so that means what was it simply Trump? Are these voters going to vote republican? And does that mean that the democrats maybe have some underlying problems in solidifying that coalition that Obama didn't? And, you know, this doesn't mean, we go back to doing what Obama did, because we might just be in a changed, you know, changed context now, where...

Rippetoe 23:39  

I don't think we have the idealism that we had in this country. And I mean, to be fair, I mean, I guess it was coming off of a horrible financial crash. So the idea that Obama could have hope, as a slogan is maybe kind of amazing, but it seems like, you know, our faith in America and democracy has been tested over the last four years in a way that it was not.

Curtis 24:02  

Well, one of the arguments about why Trump did pick up some of these, especially Latino voters is that our economy up until pandemic was actually doing really well. And these people felt like they're doing better under Trump than they were under Obama. Now, the funny thing about that, of course, is you can argue, well, the recovery was all set up and started under Obama. And then I, of course, always say, yeah, presidents don't really have that much control over what the economy does. They have enough power to screw it up. They're not very good at like making it go well. So giving presidents any, you know, giving credit presidents much credit for what the economy does, is difficult in first place but unfortunately, voters do it. Right. And so did Trump pick up Latino voters especially because at least some of the Tino voters because the economy was doing relatively well under him. And that's why they you know, so, you know, also

Rippetoe 24:48  

Also the fact that Democrats treat Latino voters as if they are one block and voting block has been untrue for decades. Latinos are Cuban Americans who have been skeptical as you and Meiser have taught me about the Democratic Party since JFK, for social sphere of socialism and whatever, and then you have Afro Latinos and you know, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. I mean, they all vote differently.

Curtis 25:13  

No, absolutely. And I think this is a new narrative. I mean, it's just so much more simple for the Democratic Party to treat them as a block. Right. 

Rippetoe 25:20  

It’s not working at all. It's a terrible strategy.

Curtis 25:23  

That’s a wake up call to democratic strategists.

Malecha 25:26  

Yeah, it's certainly on social and cultural issues, and many, many are, are closer to Republicans and Democrats, as well. Oh, yeah. It's interesting. It'll be interesting to see what happens. I mean, if you go ahead and take a look at what happens when the republican party because there are these competing tendencies right now there's, I mean, Trump has literally transformed the Republican Party. It is really almost like a cult of personality, you know, in this regard, he really transformed the party, such that maybe the views that the folks held to that, that they thought were really important, like, you know, openness and immigration, free trade. interventionism, you know, which a lot of republicans they bought into, you know, in the not too distant past. Trump, many of these things, you know, he's he's just taken it in a much different direction. But there's always been that that sliver of republicanism, that that was comfortable with those views. And I go back to, you know, there was a fellow who ran for president of a journalist by the name of Patrick Buchanan, a nationalist American, really sort of an American first person. And he ran against George Bush, and he was very critical of the Republican Party. And it's almost as if that, that, that that you can weaken the party, which was never, I would say sizeable has really has really taken hold. And, you know, there are other Republicans who you have no idea why it is that they're following Donald Trump...

Curtis 27:23  

Saying this during a recording, this is kind of a half big thought. But you wonder if the thought line, or at least an important, Faultline is not so much right or left. I mean, that's still important, of course, or even Democrat, Republican, but rather establishment versus populism. Right. Joe, Joe Biden being an establishment candidate. For everybody. Really, I mean, obviously, Democratic, whereas whereas Trump, obviously a more populist, and you know, we have to then define establishment and populist, but, you know, I think there's something to that. And so but we still, you know, as you said, Gary, the, you know, what's it going to be, I don't know, 40. I don't know, 40-46% of the voters or whatever ends up being voted for, voted for Trump, and so clearly, are still attracted to the populism he's offering. Biden, however, is arguably the least populous candidate coming out of the Democratic camp. And I wonder if for swing voters, that's where he kind of went. You know, maybe I want to get back to establishment. I'm not so sure about the populism anymore.

Rippetoe  28:33  

and I was just gonna say, it's interesting that a lot of people refer to like Trump on the extreme end as a fascist or as a nationalist. Recently, I saw a tweet that said that a fascist or a nationalist, he's an autocrat, like the idea that this man is for this country. And I mean, obviously, that's the slogan and it was effective, but they do that anything that he said censor has done has been believing that America is great. And wanting to put America first seems sort of outlandish at this point, like, Can you really call him a nationalist? 

Malecha 29:06

Well, I mean, I think there are things that he emphasizes, you know, that, you know, in terms of trade policy. And indeed, there is some merit, I think, to, you know, to the stance that he did take, you know, there are a lot of people who thought, you know, we had been ruled by the Chinese for a long period of time. And, you know, there was a willingness for someone to take a much more aggressive stance. There are a lot of people who've been fed up with us being in war. And, you know, just say, Hey, why don't we think about this country for a while rather than other countries? I mean, I do think that, you know, is he kind of like concerned with himself? Yes, but I do think he echoed certain things that resonated with a lot of people and

Curtis 30:04  

It's what the voters think of him. I mean, he also has there ever been a fascist nationalist leader who's been good for their country? Right. I mean, what the voters, the voters think. I mean, he may as Gary just said, he makes noises about America first. And, you know, putting America first and so forth putting American workers first. Did he ever really put American workers first policy wise? Um, you know, but the point is, is that his voters think that he's a nationalist? Right. 

Rippetoe 30:31  

And do you think that Biden is picking up on that a little bit? I think the more recent headline that I read said he's not planning on changing much of Trump's China policy coming into office, I do think that he will take on some of these less socially driven controversial issues and sort of keep them in the Trump Direction…

Curtis  30:50  

That’s fascinating, given they criticize Trump about China, and yeah. I'm hoping for ppp myself, but I, you know, who knows? I don't know.

Malecha 31:00  

Yeah. I think I think on certain issues like that, but others, I think he's gonna resort back to this traditional liberal left, you know, this liberal internationalist position. You know, I think, like, you know, we're gonna go back into the climate agreement, he claims and we're gonna go back into the Iran deal, provided Iran complies with what they had initially agreed to. I mean, what's really interesting is that, you know, again, he's going to be burning as Trump did as Obama did with a stroke of a pen. And, you know, you change the president, the president comes in and changes the policy. Yeah, I don't know.

O’Brien 31:48  

Are you guys concerned what Trump is going to be able to do in the next three months before January? If he's going to make any irrational decision? If he's going to do anything that might hurt us as we are? In the biggest wave of the Coronavirus? Yeah, do you think it's gonna be a term like a, like, a turbulent couple of months? Or do you think he's gonna not just like not do anything?

Malecha 32:16  

My greatest concern is the transition period, you know, and one of the, you know, he couldn't make better. And it looks like he's trying to make it harder right now, in terms of facilitating the transition, you know, to ensuring that people have enough intelligence, so that they can actually hit the ground intelligence in terms of information, so that they can hit the ground running with regard to security issues, for example, I think are important. I mean, this is a complex thing. And you're, you're changing a lot of people, we're going to be moving, some moving out some moving in. And you really want to make sure the people moving in are going to have enough information going to have enough wherewithal about them to ease in, you know, to the new position in which they find themselves and, and that's, that's certainly a concern. And I think it's becoming a concern with some Republicans who are also saying, Hey, wait a minute, here, we've got to push this transition, you know, even even if they're not, even if they're not, you know, you know, jumping for joy that Joe Biden is president or even saying, he's president, they're saying, look, we've got to be prepared to make sure that you know, when Biden's people come in, they're going to be informed. I think what Trump can do is Trump can sort of slow walk some of these things. I also find some of his recent decisions, in terms of firing political appointees, a little bit disconcerting, especially in the Defense Department, you know, the number of people that he's just simply gotten rid of, you know, you know, I find that as, you know, troublesome for the for the departments, you know, so it's going to complicate I think, the transition, that's that's where I, I believe, you know, if he doesn't change, he's probably going to make things difficult to facilitate, you know, a change you know, when one has no idea, you know, in terms of, you know, what he might say, or do you know, in the long run, I have no idea. I doubt very much. You know, he's going to take us off the cliff, but I do think he could make it easier for us.

Rippetoe 34:56

In the long run.

Curtis  35:00  

Was is it a Woodward's first book about him fear I think wasn't there like a sort of theme and a few lines in there about how Trump would tell various aids to go do this and that the other thing, and they, they just wouldn't go and do it because most of the time it was something they could do is unconstitutional was bad. Right? Yeah. So maybe that that, you know, will prevent him from doing anything erratic to maybe he does decide he wants to do something erratic, hopefully that will prevent it. 

Rippetoe 35:31  

Well, that's I was gonna say, Did you read the New York Times opinion article that talk to all of these? What a sword. It's 707 pm. Here, but, all these people off the record, they talk to like top officials who said, you know, he's essentially fired everyone that he possibly can who isn't a loyalist and replace them with loyalists. He's also fired a bunch of people just in the last couple weeks as, like I said, um, so I mean, do you? Yeah, like, is that concerning that the people, the key people that could reel him in? He is fired and replaced with Yes, man, people? Yeah,

Malecha 36:12  

I think that that is, as I said, that somewhat disturbing that and that, and that they may not have the, you know, the sophistication they may not have put gravitas, may not have sort of the intellectual background, you know, necessary to, you know, get us over, you know, from, from one administration to another. I think that could be disconcerting, I'm also worried about what other countries might do to take advantage of the United States. I mean, if you look at the United States, it's gone through this really controversial election, with an unusual president who's contesting the election, who is sowing, trying to sow distrust of democracy, and raising concerns about it, raising concerns about the new administration, so that other actors might see this as an opportunity in which they can advance their own strategic interests? I mean, that might be another concern that I might have not so much what the President would do, but how others might read where we are as a country. 

Rippetoe 37:33  

Yeah what happened to the Russians in this election? Did they do anything? Or did they give up? Actually, I'm kind of curious. In turn, I don't think we've heard anything about Russian interference in the 2020 election, which was such a beat in 2016.

Malecha 37:50  

Yeah, we don't have a lot of, you know, I don't know, what we may find out. I have no idea, you know, in terms of what the, you know, implications of other countries would be,

Rippetoe 38:02  

um, and then in terms of firing people too, I mean, is Trump protecting himself from possible legal attacks against him once he leaves office? Obviously, he's been accused of several crimes while being in office. So is it possible it's going to come back to bite him once he leaves?

Malecha 38:19  

And that's a good question. Dr. Curtis might be, you know, chomping at the bit to answer that one, though. I did. But my wife told me that she had heard a story that he's been asking people in the White House if he could know, so I don't know. But I'll turn it over to Dr. Curtis. Now, I think we have one of the things this is a possibility before I turn it over is that you might see him pardoning a number of individuals, you know, you know, that would not surprise me. But every president and, and a number of them are pretty controversial at it, and Trump would not be the first. You know, I think of Bill Clinton, for example, with Mark Rich, Yeah. And so that would not be that would not be the first I would not say thinking out of the realm of possibility that he would pardon someone like Manafort, or you know, whatever. You know, his first National Security Council advisor, General...

Rippetoe 39:30  

I was gonna say Nunez, but no...

Curtis 39:34  

His first national security adviser when? Oh, General Flynn,

Malecha 39:37  

yeah. Yeah, I brain freeze here for a moment.

Curtis 39:42  

If there's evidence that the present Trump committed some sort of crime, even before depending on statutes of limitation. So for became president after, like, for instance, tax fraud like this. He could be charged with that he can't be sued by people he fired, for instance. In fact, anything that he can argue, was something he did in his capacity as official capacity as president. He has immunity from being, you know, sued for any of those actions. Right. This is Nixon versus fixed Fitzgerald, Gary you like that?


Yes. Nixon wasn't wasn't one that set that set that precedent. Yeah, he's anything he did his official capacity he get immunity. So


I have a very, maybe silly, but practical question that I haven't seen answered on any news reporting, which is, obviously we have a little thing called the constitution that will allow Joe Biden to be president whether or not Donald Trump concedes. But who are the actual, what is the Biden plan if Trump never concedes refuses to leave the White House like worst case scenario? I know that Biden has joked that he can get evicted. But like, Is there a serious conversation of Okay, what if, yes, the election results hold, but the Trump campaign and the Trump aides are just not leaving?


What do we do?


Yeah, I find that to be really, really remote, as a possibility. Okay, you know, I certainly think that, you know, as the days go along, time wears on. And you know, that if people see him trying to hunker down in the White House, I think you would start to see republicans having to come out having to say something, I just think I just think that that would what would be something that, you know, as I said, most people think he, you know,Biden, won the election. And I think that, that is, is a really, really remote possibility. 


I mean, I think that is the second Biden's inaugurated. After he's done swearing in, he can say, Okay, wait, remove, Trump, I mean, Trump would be, I mean, you know, what half to know this gonna happen, and how embarrassing it would be, you know, to sort of like,


it seems like he's not willing to and technically in the Constitution, there is no person, no referee who calls it one way or the next. Like, it's kind of just a given that this person will concede, and he's really he does not seem like he's willing to do things. Like, you don't think that is a possibility whatsoever?


He may never concede, but you're right. You may have to concede, but that's immaterial.


Electoral votes determined by him. Right. Yeah.


It's not whether or not he concedes. Yeah, I mean, it makes no difference. You know, he can he can say I won the election and they can they can walk him out, the secret service can be walking him out, he can still be making the claim.


Once Biden's is sworn in. He's president is no longer president. He said he's a trespasser on White House property.


Do you think any concern around tampering with electoral votes is valid? Because I know, that's another way backdoor coup that some people have discussed.


Yeah, trying to try to encourage people to cast you know, cast. Yeah, you know, it's, it's, I mean, it does happen. You know, we have faithless electors and people who just decide to go off on their own. Again, I consider that to be a really remote possibility. And and even if you had a faithful selector, I certainly think that the margin is such 


The democratic electorate would then vote for Trump. Right. Yeah.


I think I think the margin, I think the margin is such it would it would not


wouldn't happen. Okay,


So last Doomsday question, which is just, I mean, another concern whether or not Trump concedes is the violence that he's encouraged to some say, of proud boys and white nationalists. And I think there were two gunmen that were arrested in Pennsylvania as his votes were being counted. Though I don't think we've seen as much as maybe some people anticipated. Do you think that the closer that we get the further that Trump goes with his claims of election fraud? And the further that he goes without conceding? Is there concern that this violence will increase? It'll be more encouraged, there will be people who are out just making trouble.


Yeah, I mean, I don't know why I certainly think it's actually less likely as time goes on, you know, when you're fat, we haven't seen, you know, a lot. You know, I mean, you've seen people angry, upset. But that happens in every election. I mean, this is, this is nothing new. No, in this case, and, you know, I certainly don't think you're going to see, you know, overall insurrection.


You could I mean, I mean, you know, just to play out this, this, this dystopian, dystopian future that you're, you're,


I'm just getting myself prepared for. Okay.


But think about, think about American history. And we have really contentious elections in the past.


I mean, one could imagine Donald Trump stirring up his supporters, because it's starting to hit home with him that he's gonna leave and he's mad. And he and he genuinely feels like he would have won the election election and it got stolen from him. And maybe insinuating to you know, he had that line about the proud boys should stand by stand back, you know, blah, blah. And some people interpreting that to mean let's, let's go cause problems. And the interesting thing about that, of course, is is if they if the President was actually encouraging lawlessness, I don’t think there’s anything you could do except impeach him, which of course, this point is, is law enforcement agencies, both state and federal, without obligation to to prevent his supporters even if encouraged by the president, right? To stop them. But anyways, hopefully won't get to that.


Yeah, yeah. And more likely than not what he's gonna do, this is going to be thinking about, alright, I want to start this new television Empire. And I want to displace Fox, and I'll have my followers there. And, you know, he's not gonna do anything to compromise that 


Thank you so much for joining us and talking with us. And I think it's really important to talk about these issues, and share what the electorate is looking like what is going to occur in the next couple of days, and it's comforting to know that you guys aren't as concerned about this transfer of power, or conceding, I should say, even though it might be a little messy. Appreciate you guys talking about it and talking it through with us.

Fiona O’Brien is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at obrienf21@up.edu.