In the days between the November 3rd, 2020 presidential election and January 6th, 2021, the day Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden as winner and next occupant of the White House, Donald Trump and his inner circle were working to subvert the will of the American people. The plot that proceeded the pro-Trump violent insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th, involved conservative lawyer and Trump advisor, John Eastman, who argued that the Constitution’s 12th Amendment gave then Vice President, Mike Pence, the discretion to decide which states’ electoral votes should be counted if there was a dispute — because GOP legislators had already been primed to make baseless allegations that widespread voter fraud had tainted the election.
The plot would have several key states submit competing slates of electors, thereby throwing the election result into dispute. The 12th Amendment dictates that if no candidate achieves the necessary majority, the matter goes to the House of Representatives to be decided, where each state is given one vote. On January 6th, 2021, the Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, just enough to overturn the will of the people and award the election victory to Trump.
In this edition of Between the Lines, we speak with bestselling author and investigative journalist, Greg Palast, who has been reporting on voter suppression issues for 22 years. In his recent article titled “What do you call a failed insurrection? Practice” he explains how the same elements in the unsuccessful plot to steal the election in 2020 will likely be executed again by Trump and the GOP in the 2024 election. Palast warns that, unless we can preserve democracy in this year’s 2022 midterm election, Trump and the Republicans could very well succeed.
Greg Palast: The 12th Amendment is one of the horror shows of our Constitution. If you think that the Electoral College is unfair and a bad idea, that ain’t nothing compared to the 12th Amendment. What the 12th Amendment says is that if no one gets enough electoral votes, if no one gets 270 electoral votes unchallenged, then the choice of president switches to the House of Representatives. And it’s not one Congressperson, one vote, which reflects the population of the US; it would be one state, one vote. So California, New York, and Connecticut each get one vote. So does Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. And DC won’t get any vote. At the moment there’s a Republican majority of 27 states, in which case the Republican, presumably Donald Trump, would win.
How does this happen? First of all, it has happened, in 1824. Literally right after that Amendment was added to the Constitution. John Quincy Adams, who lost the popular vote and the electoral vote to Andrew Jackson, was named president under the 12th Amendment by a vote of the states. Jackson so overwhelmed them four years later that he became president, but it’s happened.
When I first brought up that Trump could steal the election by the 12th Amendment, I was roundly criticized as a conspiracy nut, that even Trump would not do that. [People said] Palast has finally gone off the edge. But now we have, from CNN and from the Washington Post, the memo by John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, which Trump then gave to Pence on January 4th of last year, saying here’s how we use the 12th Amendment to stay in power.
So I had it on the nose. Now, obviously, I didn’t know about the memo. I didn’t know about the secret meeting between Trump and Pence and several of Trump’s staffers, including Mark Meadows. They were all in on this attempt to use the 12th, but they had not prepared the ground for it. So there were several senators and several congresspeople who would not challenge the certification of the votes of any of the states. But this time they are laying the groundwork, by saying — people like Cruz and others — Democrats are stealing the vote through fraudulent votes, by illegal immigrants, double voters, dead voters…
By the way, it’s always interesting that the double voters always happen to be a certain color. They never talk about white double voters, it’s only Black double voters and Hispanic double voters, but they assume that there’s millions of these. They’ve never been able to prove that there’s one. I’m not talking about a million, I’m not even talking about a thousand, I’m talking about let’s try one. But they’re going to use that to not certify the electoral vote from various states.
And in addition, I know it gets a little complicated here, but these guys are sharp. You should read the Eastman memo, because under the Second Article of the Constitution — not the Second Amendment, not the gun stuff, I’m talking about the Second Article of the Constitution — it says that state legislatures, not voters, choose the president through the Electoral College. State legislators choose the Electoral College members. And if a state has a rule that says listen to the voters, that has nothing to do with the US Constitution. There is no right to vote anywhere in the United States Constitution, period, except for the right to vote for a US senator. Your only right to vote is for the US Senate.
What is our best protection as a democracy against these election-stealing schemes?
Palast: I’ll say it many times… they can’t steal all the votes all the time. I tell this to people because when you hear me talk about voter suppression, [they might ask] why vote if they’re going to steal it? No, no, no, no, no. They can’t steal all the votes all the time.
What happened in Georgia, in January, 2021, the voters simply overwhelmed the steal. When their Secretary of State told Trump in that recorded call, I can’t find you 12,000 more votes, don’t think that that guy, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was a great hero. He wasn’t. He found him a hundred thousand votes already. He already stole a hundred thousand votes from people. He just couldn’t find anymore without going to prison. So, you know, they did every trick you could imagine, but people simply went out and voted, and overwhelmed it.
So overwhelm the steal. Don’t steal your own vote [by not voting]. And then, if the popular will prevails in 2022, they won’t have the votes in Congress, they won’t have the popular support that they will need to pull off that stunt in 2024. So now is when you act. Protect your vote and be alert.