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Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Tragedy of Jamie Ruskin and the Year of Trump

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to political news in Washington and across the country. We are your hosts, Blake and Leah.

On the morning of December 31, 2020, Representative Jamie Ruskin went to his basement and found his 25-year-old son, Tommy, dead in the bed where he was sleeping with his parents. He committed suicide after battling depression for a long time.

Ruskin was shattered. He and his son were unusually close, sharing a passion for legal arcana and late-night boggle games and a stoic liberal idealism.

A week after Tommy’s suicide, a violent mob broke into the Capitol, forcing Ruskin, a Maryland lawmaker, to seek refuge in a congressional hearing room. His youngest daughter, 23-year-old Tabitha – who had come to Washington to care for her aggrieved father – locked herself in another member’s office.

Six days later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Ruskin to former President Donald J. Said to lead to Trump’s second impeachment.

He immediately said yes.

“I had no choice,” Ruskin said in an interview at his home in Tacoma Park, MD, a proudly progressive enclave outside Washington. “I felt it was necessary, and Tommy was with me every step of the way.”

At this point Ruskin bowed his head with folded hands.

“Pelosi’s got some magical powers,” he went on after collecting himself. “That was a very little moment for me. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. And I wasn’t sure if I would ever really be able to do anything again. And by asking me to be the chief impeachment manager, he told me Was that I still needed. ”

Months earlier, Ruskin revealed in “The Unthinkable,” his gruesome new memoir, Pelosi had tapped him for a special assignment: to think like Trump.

The two men could hardly have been more different: Ruskin, a serious constitutional law scholar who maintains a vegetarian diet; and Trump, a showman with a cynical disregard for legal nuance and a preference for well-done steaks.

In early May 2020, Pelosi began to worry that Trump would somehow try to win a second term as president – even if he lost in the ballot box.

He confided in Ruskin, who had long been obsessed with the Electoral College system, which he thought was full of “booby traps” that someone like Trump could exploit.

So when Pelosi asked him what Trump might do in November, Ruskin acted with particular vigour. Over the next few months, he tried to piece together the possible strategy of the Trump team.

“We had all become great students of Donald Trump and his psyche,” Ruskin recalled. “I just found out what they would do if they wanted to win.”

Ruskin summarized his findings in a memo to Pelosi’s leadership team a few months later.

“He essentially did everything we predicted, except to unleash a violent rebellion against us,” Ruskin said. “I blame myself for not taking seriously the prospect of outside violence in the chamber.”

When investigators later unearthed a six-step plan proposed by John Eastman, a fringe conservative scholar who advised Trump on his January 6 gamble, Ruskin found it very similar to his thinking.

“It wasn’t as good as my memo. I would have done better,” said Ruskin, giving himself a sly smile. “It was a shoddy, superficial product, but just as I predicted.”

Some aides, Ruskin said, suggested he was considering the possibility of Republican misdeeds, saying, “The constitutional law professor is again, you know, lost in the nooks and crannies of the Constitution.”

As Ruskin went deeper, he realized that Democrats were particularly sensitive to a potential move by Trump: the triggering of a “accidental election” in the House of Representatives.

Under the 12th Amendment, if on the appointed day no candidate secures a majority of the Electoral College for Congress, the House must immediately vote to elect a new Speaker. But there’s a catch. Instead of a simple majority of the members of the House, a majority of the House delegations The winner chooses. All representatives of each state vote on that state’s choice for president, and then each state casts a vote.

This put Democrats at a disadvantage because, before the 2020 election, Republicans controlled 26 of the Democrats’ 22 (the other two were tied). But if Democrats can overturn at least one Republican-held delegation, they will strip the GOP of a majority.

So Ruskin sought to change the balance of power through an upcoming election. First, he identified about two dozen Democratic candidates who would be key to defending or flipping House delegations. Then, he turned the money toward them through a group called the “Twelfth Amendment Protector Fund.”

At the time, educating donors about such a hypothetical scenario proved to be a considerable effort. “I had to attend a mini-constitutional seminar with all the people we were asking for money,” Ruskin said.

He eventually raised about half a million dollars. Each of his candidates received about $20,000 from the fund—a welcome help, but rarely a flood of cash.

On November 3, 2020, Republicans outnumbered nearly a dozen House Democrats. He flipped the Iowa delegation after ousting Representative AB Fincanauer, meaning the GOP now had a 27–22 majority state delegation, even though Democrats still controlled the entire House. One of Ruskin’s Iowa candidates, Rita Hart, lost by just six votes.

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Now, if Ruskin’s worst fears are realized and Trump conducts a casualty election in the House, President-elect Joe Biden will lose.

Ruskin believed that the fate of American democracy on January 6 depended on how Vice President Mike Pence understood his constitutional role. Will he go ahead with only the Electoral College results as his predecessors did? Or will he bounce the electoral votes of some of the battleground states that Trump lost, throwing the election into the House?

“We were very close to all of that,” Ruskin said. “If Mike Pence would have gone with it, it certainly would have happened.”

Today Ruskin is tired of thinking and talking about Trump. He even said that the former president’s name is nowhere on the jacket of his book, including any sign in the cover photo of the Capitol crowd.

But Ruskin is also deeply concerned about how Trump’s determination in the 2020 election is reshaping the GOP, spurring hard-right candidates in key offices from his allies’ efforts to push for new laws, which Republicans seem to aim to consolidate power.

“The Republican Party is no longer acting like a modern political party,” Ruskin said. “It’s acting more like a religious and political cult under the control of one person.”

Ruskin often consulted his son as a gifted student at Harvard Law School for legal and political advice. He was planning to ask them to review his January 6 speech. The loss of an intellectual partner was doubly crushing, along with the grief of losing his only son.

If he were alive today, Ruskin says, Tommy would have found ways to sympathize with the Capitol rioters, even if they condemned their cause.

“Tommy was tough as nails intellectually and politically, but he had a perfect heart,” Ruskin said. “He wanted to capitalize on the good in everyone’s humanity at every turn. But he also wanted to fight fascism.”

  • Former President Donald J. Trump has “a dagger in America’s neck” President Biden He warned in a speech at the Capitol on the anniversary of the January 6 riots.

  • Top Republicans did not attend today’s events on January 6. Several people were attending the funeral of former Georgia Senator Johnny Isaacson, who recently died of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Six former advisers to President Biden’s transition team are recommending a presidential transition strategy on the coronavirus pandemic.

  • A new Democratic Super PAC aims to tie Republican candidates to Trump in the midterm, reports CNN. its name? stop him now.

On Thursday’s episode of The Daily, Representative Liz Cheney publicly confirmed for the first time that she had a fiery exchange with a fellow Republican on the House floor on Jan.

Our colleague Michael Barbaro asked Cheney: “It is reported that that day, Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus and one of your House Republican aides, stood in the aisle as members of Congress were being driven away from the crowd, away from the protesters, and that he He said, ‘We have to take the women away from the aisle. Let me help you.'”

Barbaro then asked Cheney to confirm that he pushed Jordan’s hand away, saying, “Get away from me” and “You did it,” along with a slur that underscores his anger. Is.

To which Cheney replied: “Yes, it is, it is, it is true… it was both that I definitely didn’t need his help, and secondly, I clearly thought the lie they were spreading Were and telling people, he had fully contributed to what we were living with. in that moment.”

Is there anything you think we are missing? Anything you want to see more? We would be glad to hear from you. email us [email protected],

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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