The Trump Team had a plan to undo the election. It apparently didn’t include violence.
At least that is what former Trump trade czar Peter Navarro maintains in his recently published tome, “In Trump Time.” And, for the first time (for me), Navarro actually makes sense. According to Navarro, he and provocateur Steve Bannon hatched the failed attempt to torpedo the constitutionally mandated certification of the 2020 election results after those results had been certified by every state legislature and every governor in the United States, both Republican and Democrat. They dubbed their hair-brained scheme to keep President Donald Trump in power the “Green Bay Sweep.” It would have been better named the “Cheese-Head Sweep.”
The duplicitous plan would have failed with or without the Trump mob assaulting the Capitol. That’s because the entire scheme depended on Vice President Mike Pence caving when confronted by about 100 Republican political cabalists, led by the likes of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona. They had a well-planned and well-timed, pre-arranged demand that Pence terminate the constitutionally mandated counting of the electoral ballots.
Count Mike Pence among the handful of heroes on January 6th. Vice President Pence rose to the occasion by refusing to go along with the plot to steal the election. He refused to bow to almost unbearable pressure leveled at him by (then) President Donald Trump and, instead, chose honor. He knew he would incur the wrath of the most powerful figure in today’s Republican Party, and he chose honor. Good for him.
Mike Pence was at the Capitol on January 6th to do his constitutional duty. Counting the previously certified electoral ballots is the Vice President’s only responsibility on ballot-certification day—to count the ballots that had already been certified by the legislatures and governors of every state in the nation, both Democrat and Republican.
If Pence had refused to perform this duty to count the ballots, the task would have simply fallen to President Pro Tempore of the Senate at the time, Chuck Grassley, who, I believe, would have stepped in and completed the job. Grassley is a partisan Republican, but he is an institutionalist. It is doubtful that he would have prostituted himself by participating in the Navarro-Bannon scheme to undo an American election.
Likely, the physical violence at the Capitol was not part of the Navarro-Bannon plan, but that doesn’t diminish how irresponsible their plan was. It was a malicious bit of political treachery, a pre-arranged show-stopper that, fortunately, only delayed but did not cripple the certification of the election, which is what Navarro, Bannon, and the other plotters had planned to accomplish. The likelihood of physical violence breaking out at the Capitol was overwhelming, given President Trump’s bombastic “fight like hell or you won’t have a country anymore” rhetoric. However, violence to the United States Constitution was a certainty, and it was precisely what the Navarro-Bannon plan was hatched to achieve. It almost succeeded.
While Navarro claims he never discussed his and Bannon’s scheme with the former President, it is clear that former President Trump was well aware of the plot. The only purpose of Trump’s Stop the Steal Rally was to pressure Pence to sabotage the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. That was its only purpose.
Trump’s message at the Stop the Steal Rally was precisely in sync with what Navarro says he and Bannon planned. Listen to Trump’s fulminations regarding Vice President Pence at the so-called Stop the Steal Rally. “If he (Mike Pence) does the right thing, we win the Election…He has the absolute right to do it. We’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our Constitution, and protect our Constitution. They (the States) were given false information. They voted on it. Now, they want to re-certify. They want it back. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the States to re-certify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people. And I actually just spoke to Mike. I said, Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing; that takes courage. And then we’re stuck with the President who lost the Election by a lot…”
And so, Navarro and Bannon lined up a cadre of Republican Senators and Representatives who would try to sandbag an American election for the first time in American history. Listen to Navarro bragging to the Daily Beast, an American news website that reaches over one million readers a day. “We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m. Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them. It was a perfect plan. And it all was predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”
Navarro acknowledges that the last-minute maneuvering by Cruz and Gosar and the other congressional sycophants who went along with the plot never had any chance of actually decertifying the Election. But, according to Navarro, they hoped to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on (then) Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.
What Navarro and Bannon were counting on was that the pressure on Pence would succeed, at least temporarily. This raises an interesting question. What exactly was Trump waiting for during the approximately three hours that he watched the assault on the United States Capitol? What has been apparent for months, and now documented by the Navarro tell-all, is that Trump was waiting to see if Vice President Pence would bow to the pressure he, Bannon, and the mob had created, and suspend the constitutionally mandated counting of the ballots. That was the plan. Journalists would then cover the procedural chaos and the unprecedented interruption of the ballot certification process. The delay and the resulting news coverage would give Trump and his wrecking-ball team the time to work on the six states where they thought they had a chance to create pressure for a re-count and switch enough votes to affect the outcome of the Election.
So, Trump waited while the crowd rampaged at the Capitol hoping that Vice President Pence would disgrace himself by crippling the constitutional order of the day. Only when he knew he had failed and that reinforcements from the DC National Guard and the Metropolitan Police Department were coming to eject the marauders did he tell the mob to go home. Such an organized plan undertaken to disrupt the orderly and peaceful transfer of power in America has a name. It is called a coup, or, in this case, an attempted coup.
Navarro, no doubt, has texts and call records that would reveal that he, a high-ranking White House official, was involved in the January 6th plot to undo the 2020 presidential election. However, he insists that the mob’s attack foiled his and Bannon’s plans because the insurrection energized Pence to follow through with certification.
Someday, what happened on January 6th might be a historical footnote known as the Plan to Steal the 2020 Election — a plan now relegated to the dustbin of history.
It was an evil plot, deserving of a place in infamy.
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It was a supremely evil plot against our country, that unfortunately, as you’ve described in earlier essays, is still ongoing. I only hope that the planners and perpetrators spend multiple years in prison. Your explanation of why Trump waited three hours to stop the violence makes perfect sense. It is surreal – something out of a nightmare.
But to your point about Pence — not so fast as to his honor. Unquestionably and thankfully, he did the right thing on January 6 (however, only after seeking the advice of Dan Quayle). But as of two days ago, Pence has backtracked — now dismissing the insurrection as “one tragic day in January used to demean Trump supporters”. What??? I find Pence’s recent statements appalling, as do the Capitol Police, who have stated “We did everything possible to prevent him from being hanged and killed in front of his daughter and his wife”.
All these events may be grist for a great novel or movie – but the reality today is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. I only hope that AG Garland gets his act together to bring charges against the former President and all his enablers -severe consequences are the only way to discourage/prevent a coup like this from taking place in the future.
My question is why are they not already serving the 20 year sentence that our laws say they can be charged with? What is going on with that????
I believe you unnecessarily attribute Sen. Grassley “Would have tried to discredit the election.
That is your assumption and it is unfair. Writing about Trump and not insisting on performance
from the current administration is not worthy. Trump is yesterday’s news.
PS I still enjoy your very well written essays and look forward to them weekly.
Response to Perry Green: My comment regarding Senator Grassley is exactly the opposite of that which Perry Green attributes to me. Here is what I wrote in today’s column. “Grassley, who, I believe, would have stepped in and completed the job. Grassley is a partisan Republican, but he is an institutionalist. It is doubtful that he would have prostituted himself by participating in the Navarro-Bannon scheme to undo an American election.” I did not write, “Grassley, would have tried to discredit the election,” as Perry Green mistakenly suggests in his comment.
response to Perry this administration had nothing to do with January 6th and the Trump crime family and for you to think we should compare is foolishness.
I especially like your correction of Perry’s alteration of what you wrote.
Who knows if this Navarro character is telling the truth or embellishing his story? Has his report been checked and double checked for its veracity.
This supposedly trial of Trump is merely a third attempt to impeach President Trump and cover up his real accomplishments. He is not Presidential, like JFK, but I voted for him in 2016 and 2020 because he said what I wanted to hear.
1. Stop illegal immigration
2. Destroy ISIS
3. Pro-Israel and moving our American Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital.
4. Neutralized North Korea and their dictator stopped his warlike plans.
5. Tore up the stupid Iran treaty that was totally worthless.
6. Covid vaccine was speeded up and was on time by Dec. 2020 or early 2021.
Why are the instigators of insurrections, riots, fires,thefts of Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Baltimore are not on trial? Liberals running these cities should all be on trial for not protecting their lawful citizens.
Now we have the worst President of my lifetime who is clueless and then send a clown jester, Kamala Harris, to cure the problems. God help us.
Response to Mr. Goldfine: “This character,” Peter Navarro, served in the Trump administration as the Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
So did a lot of Trump defectors who left his administration, but has anyone verified his story. Is he now on the CNN payroll or is he distorting the facts to sell his book?
Response to Stuart Goldfine: Peter Navarro did not defect from the Trump Administration nor did he go to CNN. He remained and remains a Trump loyalist.
Hal, please delve into Mayor Lightfoots many accomplishments…she parallels Mr. Biden. (Which is more formal a title than President.)
Did not have the opportunity to ask –if republicans and democrats both field spoiler candidates in the 2024 presidential election and no one can get 270 electoral votes, what kind of scenarios can you see play out. How problematic for our democracy?
The election would then be decided in the House of Representatives. Too awful to think about.