It's Donald Trump vs. democracy. Which side are you on?

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CNN's John Avlon looks at President Trump's legal cases and false claims, and how he is trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Posted: Nov 20, 2020 12:41 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2020 12:41 AM

If there was any ever doubt, by now it should be clear: This is Donald Trump vs. Democracy.

Amid the final flurry of conspiracy theories, which have translated into frivolous lawsuits and desperate political gambits, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis gave up the game when she cheered the brief but unprecedented partisan deadlock over certifying Wayne County's votes in the state of Michigan, where President-elect Joe Biden won by 148,000 votes.

Ellis tweeted: "If the state board follows suit, the Republican state legislator will select the electors. Huge win for @realDonaldTrump."

Here's what that means: the Republican-controlled state legislature would try to overrule the popular vote and submit a separate set of Trump electors to select the next president in the electoral college.

The good news is that there are many practical hurdles to achieving such an outcome. The bad news is that Ellis' statement translates to an official endorsement by the Trump campaign of a desperate strategy to stay in power by ignoring the results of the election and the clear will of the people. It is an admission that they care more about partisan power than democracy itself.

As Michigan-based Politico reporter Tim Alberta tweeted, "This system of certifying has always been ripe for exploitation by partisan hacks. Now the stars have aligned -- a demagogue president, a party bereft of integrity, and an activist base that believes 244 years of democratic norms are expendable if it means 4 more years of power."

The Washington Post's center-right reporter Robert Costa saw confirmation of a strategy he's been hearing from sources close to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani: "they know they can't catch up (in the vote count). What they want -- in MI, PA, NV, other states -- is for the vote to *not* be certified. Their end game: try to force it to the House. Giuliani talking about this privately," Costa tweeted.

Achieving this is unlikely for a number of reasons -- one of which is that each of these states has a Democratic governor, who could override a runaway Republican state legislature. In the case of Michigan, the state constitution makes it clear that "all 16 Michigan electoral votes automatically go to the presidential candidate winning the popular vote" -- which was Biden -- and GOP legislative leaders have pledged not to change the law in an attempt to put Trump in power, despite pressure from the president's allies.

Against this backdrop -- if you put reason, law and ethics aside for a moment -- the crazy-quilt of failed legal challenges asserting massive but unspecified fraud that has resulted in a 1 for 25 loss in court starts to make a little more sense. Because one clear commonality in each contested state has been a desperate attempt to block certification of the state's votes -- or to throw out votes from the major population centers, which in many cases -- not coincidentally -- are predominately African-American.

We saw that dynamic in the Wayne County deadlock, where the chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, Republican Monica Palmer, said she would be fine certifying the county's votes, absent the city of Detroit.

More baseless claims about mass voter fraud were thrown out of a Michigan court last week, when a judge blocked Trump's attempt to stop certification of Biden's win by declaring accusations of widespread election fraud "incorrect and not credible." Not deterred by legal reasoning, facts or judicial decisions, Trump simply blurted out fantasies of a Michigan victory, declaring on Wednesday: "The Great State of Michigan, with votes being far greater than the number of people who voted, cannot certify the election. The Democrats cheated big time, and got caught. A Republican WIN!"

While Wayne County's canvassers reversed themselves in the face of massive "feedback" from voters, President Trump highlighted his autocratic impulses by firing his director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs, for the sin of doing his job and telling the truth, when he said "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." Trump's baseless and failed legal claims of mass voter fraud depend on denying that reality. As a result, telling the truth is a firing offense.

None of this is normal or consistent with the character of our democracy. When Trump carried Michigan in 2016 by just over 10,000 votes, there was not this kind of skullduggery by Democrats. There certainly should not be with a Biden vote total 14 times larger. But this is evidence of a deeper rot -- the elevation of hyper-partisan self-interest over the national interest.

The fact that it is being pursued -- however fruitlessly -- by members of a party who consider themselves super-patriots shows just how much that term has been perverted. Because you can't be a real patriot in America if you don't support democracy -- which the dictionary defines as "government by the people, especially rule of the majority." Unfortunately, there has been a move to secure minority rule by Republicans -- as I explained in a recent Reality Check -- that sets the stage for this would-be travesty.

Republicans who naively believed that Trump would be chastened by his impeachment and that voters would be able to cast the final vote on his fitness for office (as South Dakota Senator John Thune argued, "the American people -- not Washington politicians -- should choose whether the president remains in office") must now confront the fact that Trump and his team, through Washington politicians and a contested electoral college decision, want to bypass the American people on the path to reelection.

This is a time for choosing. Republicans have coddled Trump by making excuses for why he is the first president in our history to refuse to concede that he lost an election. Now, Republicans need to decide whether they will condone an outright attempt to overturn the election. This is far more than a question of being a good party member. This is a test of whether you believe in our country more than a cult of personality. It's a question of whether mindless hyper-partisanship will overwhelm any remaining sense of principle.

This should not be a tough call: It's Donald Trump vs. Democracy. Which side are you on?

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
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Adams5748
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