The most disruptive and divisive series of events that I have seen during my life in the US was what happened after George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minnesota in 2020.
In what is described as unprecedented craziness, Donald Trump has suggested a new and severe attempt to impose martial law as part of a desperate initiative to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s election.
The move, raised in a reportedly chaotic meeting in the Oval Office, is both disingenuous and laughable. Now going through the wrap-up motions of his presidency, he is said to have raised the possibility of using the military to enforce a second term as President of the United States of America.
He was rebuffed by many of his closest advisers, but the fact that it was raised at the Oval Office serves to underline his desperation to defy the verdict. Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, two of Trump’s closest public advocates, were at the meeting.
Powell is a lawyer who has led many of the failed court attempts to allege voter fraud. Her conspiracy theories ~ for instance that Hugo Chavez, the former Venezuelan President who died in 2013, was part of a plot to swindle Trump out of his victory ~ caused the rest of the President’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, to cut ties with her last month.
Trump’s advisers, including Giuliani, have opposed the idea of martial law, and suggested instead the seizure of voting mahines to investigate possible fraud. The idea was also “aggressively” opposed by Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. The Oval office meeting is said to have become raucous and involved people shouting.
Clearly Trump is fighting a losing battle though his legal advisers, pre-eminently Powell and Flynn, have suggested, that Trump “could take military capabilities and could basically rerun an election in each these states”. With less than four weeks to go for the transition, Trump’s desperation seems to be growing. For all that, the US government is facing the prospect of a year-end shutdown with Trump threateninng not to sign a $2.3 trillion package that includes government funding and coronavirus assistance.
The package was the outcome of months of negotiations between Conngressional Democrats and Republicans. It also funds goverment operations till September 2021. This would mean that if Trump blocks the assistance, then large sections of the government could shut down.
In a video posted on social media earlier this week, the outgoing President has sought the bill be revised to include the payment of $2000 to every American.
This is more than triple the $600 person included in the bill. Federal funding is due to expire on Monday if Trump does not sign the bill into law. A funding lapse would furlough millons of federal workers and shut wide segments of the US government at a time when it is rushing to distribute two coronavirus vaccines. The catastrophe has killed more than 323,000 Americans, and left millions jobless.