The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman kicked off the abbreviated news week with a scoop that has driven the discussion in the MAGA universe since then–rumors that ex-President Donald Trump now believes he will be “reinstated” President by late summer after some manner of sweeping turnabout (or maybe just a coup):
Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing the information). https://t.co/kaXSXKnpF0
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 1, 2021
And lest you think this is a one-off crackpot rumor getting undue attention, the National Review’s Charles Cooke says this is what Trump actually believes will happen:
I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.
It will be tempting for weary conservatives to dismiss this information as “old news” or as “an irrelevance.” It will be tempting, too, to downplay the enormity of what is being claimed, or to change the subject, or to attack the messengers by implying that they must “hate” Trump and his voters. But such temptations should be assiduously avoided. We are not talking here about a fringe figure within the Republican tent, but about a man who hopes to make support for his outlandish claims “a litmus test of sorts as he decides whom to endorse for state and federal contests in 2022 and 2024.”
AP is also confirming that this is now Trump’s comeback strategy, despite the lack of any constitutional mechanism for doing so:
Trump continues to push Republicans to embrace his election lies. He’s criticized his former vice president, Mike Pence, for fulfilling his constitutional duty to preside over the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. And Trump has gone a step further recently by giving credence to a bizarre conspiracy theory that he could somehow be reinstated into the presidency in August, according to a longtime Trump ally who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
There’s no constitutional or legal mechanism for Trump to return to the presidency absent winning another election in 2024. [Pols emphasis] Trump’s argument that the last election was tainted has been roundly rejected by federal and state officials, including his own attorney general and Republican election leaders. Judges, including those appointed by Trump, also dismissed his claims.
Official counts and recounts of all the contested states in the 2020 presidential elections have found no irregularities, but the decidedly unofficial and dubious “audit” of ballots in Arizona being conducted by partisan operatives is widely expected to come away with some kind of narrative that keeps the Big Lie that the election was stolen from Trump alive. Any other conclusion would be devastating for anyone still clinging to the fantasy that Trump was the rightful winner, and a process as sloppy as the one by all accounts taking place in Phoenix right now is almost certain to produce results that deviate from the official count simply due to their own incompetence.
With that said, don’t expect reality to slow this crazy train even a little bit. The charade of the Arizona “audit” will serve as a pretext for others elsewhere, and over the next few weeks the official record of the 2020 election, counted, recounted, and re-recounted for the history books though it may be, will be second-guessed by Trump’s diehard supporters until no one even remembers that the results haven’t been found irregular by a single impartial source or court.
This continuing assault on the integrity of the 2020 elections puts Colorado Republicans in a difficult situation. As we’ve discussed in this space many times, Colorado’s election system incorporates just about every feature that Trump’s conspiracy theorists cite as problematic, from same-day registration to mail-in ballots counted almost entirely by Dominion Voting Systems hardware. The cognitive dissonance required to agree with Colorado’s GOP county clerks (and former GOP chairman Ken Buck) that Colorado’s elections work, but then also support Trump’s claims that the 2020 elections were stolen via all these same systems that worked fine in Colorado, is simply too much for a reasonable person to accept.
This contradiction can’t last forever, and local Republicans will have to choose at some point between what they can see with their eyes and the national party line. The worse it gets, the harder it will get for them. Which is why we’re asking, once again, how Colorado Republicans plan to navigate what’s turning out to not be a post-Trump landscape after all.