Trump will use election fraud claims to stay relevant through 2021
Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:
The Electoral College has voted. Why is Trump still refusing to acknowledge defeat?
Well, the President has a long history of criticizing people who lose elections as losers, who quote, "choke like a dog." And I don't think the President wants to admit to himself that he is a loser who choked like a dog. In addition, he's building a pretty impressive political operation based off claims that the election was stolen from him. He's raised over $200 million in the month since the election, and that political operation is going to keep him relevant in the media and in Republican politics for at least the rest of 2021. I think that the claims of election fraud are really central to that operation. So, don't expect Trump to concede anytime soon, even after Republicans start broadly acknowledging his loss.
Why is Attorney General William Barr resigning?
Barr had been one of the President's biggest loyalists. He'd used the Department of Justice in order to advance many Trump causes. And after the election, it looked like he was moving in a different direction. Ostensibly, he's doing it to spend time with his family around Christmas, which is what President Trump said. But in recent weeks, it's come out that Barr didn't acknowledge the DOJ was investigating Hunter Biden before the election; and also, he's been disputing the President's claims of voter fraud. So, I think that relationship just wasn't tenable anymore. Barr's on his way out in the closing days of the administration.
How will the US respond to recent Russian cyber attacks?
Well first, the US has to be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the perpetrators of these attacks were Russian. It's possible that there's a false attribution, although it looks very likely these things were carried out by the Russian government. Second, the US is likely to respond with sanctions targeted at the people who did the deed, unless it turns out that this was more than just an intelligence gathering operation and, in fact, targeted US critical infrastructure or was an attempt to damage some US companies or the government. In that case, you may see something much, much broader than sanctions, up into and including cyber attacks back on the Russians to make sure that they pay a price for having done this. Third, a lot of this may not happen until the Biden administration. With the transition of government happening now and going til January 20th, the Biden people may want to reset their approach to Russia altogether, and you may see a much more aggressive response to Russia that goes beyond targeted sanctions starting in the new year.