Justice Roberts won’t preside over the Senate trial, if only because of the optics and fortunately the rules allow the Pro Tempore senator to preside.

Let’s assume for the moment that former president Donald Trump’s efforts to undercut the results of the 2020 election began only when the sun rose the day after last year’s election. That’s not the case, clearly; Trump had been alleging for months that the results would be marred by fraud, part of an effort to inoculate his base against a seemingly likely loss. Even identifying the starting point as sunrise is a hedge, given that Trump began claiming in the middle of the night after polls closed that he’d won, based on the incomplete tally of cast ballots.

But those assertions were different from what followed the election itself. Over the two months between President Biden’s victory being announced and the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who believed the lie that the election had been stolen, Trump repeatedly tried to somehow wrench a victory out of his rejection by voters. It was an effort that involved unprecedented attempts to persuade those he saw as allies to undo the results of a democratic election.


  • Repeated claims and lawsuits focused on alleged fraud.
  • Pressuring officials in Michigan about certifying the election results.
  • Pressuring Michigan legislators to throw out his loss in the state.
  • Calling the speaker of the Pennsylvania House to help reverse results.
  • Pressuring leaders in Georgia and Arizona to overturn their states’ votes. 
  • Directly cajoling Georgia’s secretary of state to gin up a reason for throwing out the results.

Entertaining a plot to oust the acting attorney general so that the Justice Department could allege fraud. Perhaps the most remarkable effort to undercut the results in Georgia, though, came through Trump’s Department of Justice.

As reported over the weekend, Trump was receptive to a plan that would have involved his firing the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and replacing him with a Justice Department lawyer who had openly advocated overturning election results. That attorney, Jeffrey Clark, had been pressuring the department to allege that fraud had occurred in Georgia. Trump was made aware of Clark’s advocacy and invited Clark and Rosen to the White House to argue their sides.
Trump decided against the overhaul of the department only after it became clear that firing Rosen would trigger a slew of resignations that themselves would be likely to prompt new congressional investigations into his actions.

Encouraging his vice president to ignore the Constitution. As Trump’s time in office wound down, he became fixated on another false claim about how the election could be overturned: Former vice president Mike Pence could simply overturn it.
This was not the case, as demonstrated in part by the fact that at no point in the past 230-plus years had a vice president simply undone the results of a national presidential election. But, lacking many other options, Trump claimed that he could.
Despite Pence himself rejecting the idea, Trump made the same claim on the morning of Jan. 6, at a rally where he addressed thousands of supporters and exhorted them to fight in his defense. Many then did, overrunning the Capitol in an effort to block the ultimate counting of electoral votes that would finalize Trump’s loss.
Among the chants heard on Capitol Hill during the attempted insurrection were claims that the election was stolen — and calls to assassinate Pence.



  • January 25, 2021