Did Trump Really Threaten to Use Executive Order to Prevent Biden Presidency?
https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/09/20/trump-threatens-to-issue-executive-order-preventing-biden-from-being-elected-president/?fbclid=IwAR1EbgUoRdzFCIeJ715c6F2cHdQqXEhLhFFW9okBJa4wY769G5Y2hBgT37A#3e7d670176f6 The first thing that stands out is just how loaded this headline is. This is a bold claim to make, regardless of who you are. To suggest that a sitting president would genuinely threaten to use unilateral executive power to prevent due electoral process and to retain power requires some solid evidence. It does not stop there, however, as the article then uses this notion as evidence that Donald Trump is a megalomaniac dictator, intent on retaining power, and will disrupt American political processes to retain his office should he lose in the upcoming elections. The article also cites top Democrat leaders strongly suggesting that President Trump will usurp the office, and that Americans should prepare for a non-peaceful transfer of power, also citing that this is likely given that President Trump “trails by double-digits in many polls.”
At face value, it is not hard to prove whether or not the President did indeed make a statement suggesting that he should consider banning former Vice President Biden from the Oval Office. At his late September campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, President Trump did indeed say "maybe I'll sign an executive order that you cannot have him as your president." Wow. That is certainly damning. That’s it. Case closed. Throw the book at President Trump. He clearly did threaten the governmental structure and processes of the United States…if you take everything at face value and do not do any research.
Context matters. The President 100% stated the above quote. However, to call it a “threat” and to treat this like it is a realistic possibility? Ludicrous. It only takes a basic understanding of President Trump’s bombastic nature (one which can seemingly rival the infamous “Windy City” politicians of old), the context in which he made the quoted statement, and looking at the President’s track record to know that this article should be taken about as seriously as a Harry Potter book…Oh…wait…people DO take those seriously? Please read a different book. All in all, it is fair to say that the President made a bad joke, and that said joke sets a bad precedent. Maybe the article could focus on why this is indicative of just how much power the Legislative Branch of government has ceded to the Executive Branch, and why checks and balances are important? Or how checks and balances make this virtually impossible?
The President made, makes, and will continue to make provocative, exaggerative claims to rally his voter base. It’s the persona of Donald Trump: He does it big or he doesn’t do it at all. He is a showman. While President Trump most likely views Joe Biden as a terrible choice for President, let’s not kid ourselves. President Trump probably knows that he cannot ban a candidate from running via executive order. Even IF he didn’t know the former, he has plenty of people around him who do. The insinuations in this article can only be described as made in bad faith. Either this journalist did no research (plausible and likely), he thought he could fleece people by taking quotes out of context (most likely), or he genuinely thinks that the President believes that a presidential executive order banning Joe Biden from office is actually feasible (least likely, but still likely). If the journalist who wrote this article doesn’t understand that…that’s what you would call a “big ‘Oof!’” So which is it? Was context ignored? Does he think he can pull one over on people who can literally debunk the spirit of this notion with a Google search? Or does this journalist simply not understand American civics?
Furthermore, just watch the speech. Even if it is just two to three minutes surrounding this quote, and you will clearly understand that this is an exaggerative ploy to try to emphasize what he (and many of his supporters) would perceive to be a fatal mistake for the United States. This was not a campaign promise. This is a “Hillary for Prison”-type joke. Like I said before, it would be more than fair to criticize even raising the notion, and to call out the need for Congressional wresting of power from the Executive in order to restore checks and balances to their former glory. If one just reads this article and watches the “Gotcha!” clip, then sure. However, if you watch even a few minutes surrounding the quote, then it becomes quite apparent that this is not serious.
The most important means by which to judge the insinuations of this article is the Presidents actions. What is the old adage? Actions speak louder than words? At almost every turn, the President has de-regulated and cut back on executive power. Most notably and recently, the President’s administration found a clever way to quell over 100 days of rioting in Portland. Some thought he might invoke the Insurrection Act, which would have not only played into assertions that he is an authoritarian, but would have set a harmful precedent for civil liberties. Instead, Oregon police departments were federally deputized, which prevented violent instigators from walking free at the whims of politically motivated state prosecutors. This was crucial in maintaining not only law and order, but also maintaining civil liberties and states’ rights. Therefore, the insinuation that President Trump would actually try to ban Joe Biden via executive order seems highly suspicious, further discrediting this article.
As for the biggest elephant in the room: “Preparing” Americans for the possibility of a Trump-led insurgency? It comes across as bad faith once again. The article quotes the President in response to whether he would accept the election results outright as saying: “I have to see. No, I'm not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no, and I didn't last time, either." This is also factual. The President DID say this. Once again, upon doing some more research, it is quite easy to peel back the mask and find that it is likely a bad faith assertion.
First, it is illogical for President Trump to promise concession before the election begins in earnest, and especially when there are so many processes and rules in the election process that are under scrutiny. That would be admitting defeat at the start of a contest. Any competitor knows that this results in failure, and could result in greater turmoil if the President were to go back on his word. Did I also forget to mention that as recently as August, Hillary Clinton was quoted in an interview as saying that ““Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch…” (“Hillary Clinton says Biden should not concede the election 'under any circumstances'”. Shabad, Rebecca. August 26th, 2020. NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/hillary-clinton-says-biden-should-not-concede-2020-election-under-n1238156). Huh…funny, to say the least. “Rules for thee, but not for me.” The cherry on top is the recent “wargames” conducted by the Transition Integrity Project (founded in 2019…go figure!) resulted in non-peaceful transitions of power in all scenarios EXCEPT a Biden landslide (“Washington Post piece panned for speculating only a 'Biden landslide' would prevent 'violence' beyond election”. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. September 3rd, 2020. Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/media/washington-post-violence-biden-landslide).
So, again, we face an inconsistency. If President Trump certainly won’t cede power peacefully, then why is it that they predict the only peaceful transition of power in a clear Biden victory? That is an important item to discuss when accusing the President of being a megalomaniac. In light of what I just laid out, this article comes across as gaslighting the President, priming Americans for unrest in the event that the Democrats lose, and priming Americans for ambiguous, contested results caused by the voting policies Democrats are pushing. Perhaps if the focus were that we need to increase voting integrity and security, and that the current processes and policies are leading down a road toward contested results, instead of accusing the President of mucking them for his own gain, then it would be more objective and thereby more informative. Maybe, the writer could have even discussed HOW to ensure voting integrity and security? Solutions would be fantastic! But this is modern American journalism we are talking about, so let’s not get our hopes up.
In the end, this article comes across as a hit piece, attempting to spin a biased narrative without presenting both sides of the story. Yes, it provides factual quotations made by important political figures. But that is the only thing of any value it does. Everything outside of those quotes in and of themselves is bad faith accusations and biased narrative intended to scare people into a desired political action. The headline should probably read more like “President Trump Makes Bad Joke: Suggestions Reveals Need to Protect Checks and Balances,” and the article should have focused on the dire need for Congress to re-assert itself as the Legislative Branch, while also discussing the need to maintain voting integrity and security as necessary for a peaceful transition of power. The article would be even better if, in addition to my previous suggestions, it dove into what issues are causing strife in the election process and HOW to fix them. Is that too much to ask? Written By: The Fireman