Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s revelation that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pressed him to toss out thousands of valid ballots and urged blocking entire counties from having their mail-in ballots counted at all have raised concern that top GOP lawmakers are in on a plan to try a soft coup denying Joe Biden the presidency he won on Nov. 3.
Raffensperger told the Washington Post that he spoke last Friday to Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He told the Post that Graham asked him whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures. Graham also asked Raffensperger if he could toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures.
Raffensperger said he was “stunned” that Graham would suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots. “It sure looked like he [Graham] was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.
Graham has said all he was doing was trying to find out about Georgia election law. Even if that were true, it would, in any case, be an incredible conflict of interest for a senator from one state to be calling a top election official in another state in the middle of a recount of a race in which one candidate, Joe Biden, defeated the other candidate, Donald Trump by just 14,000 votes.
This is particularly the case where President-elect Joe Biden won nationally, in part, by carrying the state of Georgia, and Sen. Graham is identified as one of the most enthusiastic boot lickers in the Trump camp.
Until now, some have explained support for Trump’s refusal to concede by people like Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as nothing more than their wanting to give Trump’s bruised ego a chance to come to terms with his defeat.
Graham’s criminally coercive phone call to Raffensperger, however, shows that he and other top GOP lawmakers are actively participating in laying the groundwork for a possible soft legal coup if they can get away with it, keeping Trump in office despite his electoral loss.
Even if that is not the case, the actions of Graham and other leading Republicans are laying the groundwork for perhaps one-third of the U.S. electorate to never accept the results of the 2020 election. They hope this will strengthen their hands in the Senate and House as they sabotage a Biden administration on an ongoing basis.
It is clear that had the final outcome of the race come down to only one state, they would have had a much greater chance of pulling off the soft coup option than they have now. Instead, they have to wage attacks on election officials, file court cases, and explore sending alternate slates to the Electoral College in mid-December in several states while simultaneously delaying the transition to a Biden administration.
The criminal phone call to Raffensperger by Graham shows they haven’t totally given up on all of their soft coup options.
Trump’s refusal to concede and the refusal to allow the Biden transition to begin, meanwhile, is causing more than just political problems for a new Biden administration. As Biden himself noted in a press conference Monday, more people will die from COVID-19 because of lack of coordination between the outgoing and incoming administrations.
John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union’s campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and ’80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.