By all appearances, Donald Trump is looking ahead to 2024 and gearing up for yet another Republican presidential campaign. What’s more interesting, however, is his apparent belief that he might not have to wait that long to return to the White House. HuffPost highlighted the former president’s latest pitch:
If anyone needed more evidence of Donald Trump’s mind-bending view of reality, on Monday he demanded to be declared president — nearly two years after the election he decisively lost. But he was also open to another option. In a “minimal” alternative “solution,” someone (probably not President Joe Biden) must “immediately” launch a do-over election, he said in a message on Truth Social.
Yes, nearly 22 months after losing by a fairly wide margin, Trump turned to his Twitter-like platform again yesterday to complain incoherently about the FBI and Hunter Biden’s laptop. The Republican concluded his missive, “Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”
That was shortly before noon. In the middle of the night — according to the timestamp, 1:46 a.m. eastern — Trump returned to the subject. After more incoherent FBI/laptop whining, the former president again wrote, “Declare the rightful winner, or hold a new Election, NOW!”
Part of what makes this so extraordinary is the frequency with which Trump re-embraces this obvious lunacy. As regular readers may recall, it was in April 2021 when the Republican sounded very much like a politician who believed it was still possible his defeat could and would be reversed. Soon after, the former president reportedly told associates he believed Arizona’s ridiculous Cyber Ninja audit “could undo“ the 2020 presidential election.
In May 2021, by way of his now-defunct blog, he celebrated a poll showing most Republican voters “believe Donald Trump is the true president.” In June 2021, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported that Trump “has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated” to the presidency by August 2021.
Around the same time, CNN ran a related piece, reporting that Trump has “been asking advisers in recent weeks if he could somehow reassume the presidency this year after listening to farfetched suggestions from conservative commentators and allies.”
Sometime around September 2021, Trump allegedly asked Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama to work on rescinding the 2020 results and “immediately” putting him back in the White House.
In October 2021, referencing a weird election conspiracy theory out of Arizona that has long since been forgotten, Trump wrote, “Either a new Election should immediately take place or the past Election should be decertified and the Republican candidate declared the winner.”
For reasons unknown, he’s apparently become fixated on this anew.
In case there are any doubts, the idea that Trump could be reinstated to the presidency, or that there could be some kind of do-over election, is hopelessly insane.
I’m reminded of a piece National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke wrote last year. “[E]ven if it were true that the 2020 election had been stolen — which it is absolutely not — his belief would still be absurd,” the prominent conservative writer explained. “It could be confirmed tomorrow that agents working for a combination of al-Qaeda, Venezuela, and George Soros had hacked into every single voting machine in the country and altered the totals by tens of millions, and it would remain the case there is no mechanism within the American legal order for a do-over of any sort.
“In such an eventuality, there would be indictments, an impeachment drive, and a constitutional crisis. But, however bad it got, Donald Trump would not be ‘reinstated’ to the presidency. That is not how America works, how America has ever worked, or how America can ever work. American politicians do not lose their reelection races only to be reinstalled later on, as might the second-place horse in a race whose winner was disqualified. The idea is otherworldly and obscene.”
What’s more, by some measures, it might also be dangerous. The Justice Department warned last year that the former president’s delusional claims about returning to office could fuel more political violence from his most rabid followers. The Department of Homeland Security raised related concerns.
But this need not be the latest instance in which the political world collectively marvels at Trump’s descent into madness, shakes its head in disappointment, shrugs its shoulders, and moves on. Rather, this could help generate a worthwhile conversation.
The nation will hold midterm elections 10 weeks from today, and given the former president’s persistent enthusiasm for the idea — either hand him the presidency despite his defeat or hold a do-over election “immediately” — it seems only fair to ask Republican officeholders and candidates whether they agree with Trump’s plea.
Is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on board with such an approach? How about Sens. Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham? Do Govs. Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp endorse the former president’s demand? How about J.D. Vance, Blake Masters, Herschel Walker, and Mehmet Oz?
Update: Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois seemed to endorse the question I raised in this post, publishing a tweet that read in part, "Every GOP member should be asked to respond to" Trump's election-related demand.