WASHINGTON – The specter of violence hovered over the most cherished tradition in American democracy: the peaceful transition of power.
As members of the Electoral College gathered across the nation on Monday, they faced both organized protests and death threats aimed at stopping the formal election of Donald Trump as president.
But none of the threats against Republican electors worked, as the Associated Press reported late Monday afternoon that Trump had easily secured more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
More Democratic electors defected than Republicans. Four Democratic electors in Washington state refused to vote for Hillary Clinton, and one elector in Colorado was replaced after refusing to vote for her. Another elector in Hawaii also defected from Clinton to vote for Bernie Sanders. Only two GOP electors voted for someone other than Trump, both in Texas.
The Electoral College won’t announce the official tally until Jan. 6., at which time the presidential election result will become final and official.
The threats of violence against Republican electors appeared to be fueled by the intense disappointment and anger with the outcome of the November election, voiced by most leading Democrats, including the president himself.
Expressing dismay with both the Constitution and the fact that President-elect Trump won the presidency without getting a majority of the popular vote, President Obama said on Friday, “The Electoral College is a vestige, it’s a carryover from an earlier vision of how our federal government was going to work that put a lot of premium on states.”
WND chronicled the Democrats’ all-out media blitz last week to try to persuade Republican electors to not vote for Trump, including a barrage of newspaper ads, a celebrity video, phone calls, letters, emails, tweets and Facebook posts.
WND also reported how that included death threats against GOP electors around the country.
But, the mainstream media response to the threatened violence against the Electoral College was largely absent on Monday, as electors gathered in their respective states.
The New York Times’ front-page story on the Electoral College made not one mention of potential violence or death threats.
The front-page story in the Washington Post mentioned just one death threat against an elector, but that was the one who happened to announce he would defy his duty and vote against President-elect Donald Trump.
“Since writing in the New York Times that he would not vote for Trump because he is unqualified to be president, Texas elector Chris Suprun said he has received death threats and been inundated with media requests,” reported the Post on Monday.
But there was no mention in the Post article of the numerous deaths threat reported across the land against other GOP electors planning to fulfill their duty and vote for the president-elect in the Electoral College.
In contrast, local media in Pennsylvania reported that each of the state’s 20 electors “have been assigned a plainclothes state police trooper for protection.”
One Pennsylvania elector told Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette he “estimates he receives 3,000 to 5,000 (anti-Trump) emails, letters, and phone calls a day from as far away as France, Germany, and Australia.”
However, the paper reported, “[I]n interviews last week, a number of electors said there was no chance anyone will defect.”
The threats against electors and the constitutional transition of power are not limited to the Keystone State.
Fox News reported on Monday that an elector in Michigan said he’s “been overwhelmed with thousands of emails, Facebook messages, letters and even death threats since the billionaire businessman won the election.”
“I’ve had people that have been talking about putting a bullet in the back of my mouth, burning myself and my family, sending pictures of nooses saying if I don’t vote for Hillary Clinton, they’ll get me,” said Michigan elector Michael Banerian.
He said he filed a police report and the threats are under investigation.
Over the weekend, Politico reported, “Members of the Electoral College have been inundated by harassing phone calls and hate mail. Many report receiving death threats.”
One GOP elector in Texas “said he’s been bombarded with more than 200,000 emails.”
While the threats of violence against electors and the peaceful transition of power fly largely under the radar of the mainstream media, the news has made waves even overseas.
The British paper the Telegraph reported on Monday, “Electors around the country have reported being targeted by death threats, harassing phone calls and reams of hate mail,” by “organized campaigns in a ditch bid by desperate opponents to avert the outcome of the U.S. election.”
Those “organized campaigns” were apparently organized by Democrats.
One part of the campaign involves contacting GOP electors directly through email, postal mail, phone calls and social media to try to stop them from voting for Trump. Another part is an all-out blitz in the media, using videos and advertisements.
An article in the Daily Caller on Tuesday reported that “the public relations firm working behind the scenes with the ‘faithless electors’ is rife with ties to prominent Democrats,” including Clinton and President Obama.
The website said the firm Megaphone Strategies was co-founded by Obama’s former green jobs czar, Van Jones, and has a “stated mission is to ‘use PR as a tool to diversify progressive movements.'”
The firm’s president and other co-founder, Molly Haigh, worked for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She has blamed Trump’s victory on “racist, misogynist, xenophobic fear mongering.”
The death threats against the electors reported in the media on Monday echo what WND reported last week.
Gary Bauer, the former under secretary of education and chief domestic policy adviser to President Reagan, said, “Republican electors are reportedly being harassed 24 hours a day by left wing fanatics.”
“The harassment includes death threats that has left some of them fearful for themselves and their families. Sounds like hate crimes to me. Where is the Justice Department?”
The New York Post reported on Wednesday, “Electors around the country are being harassed with a barrage of emails, phone calls and letters — and even death threats — in an effort to block Donald Trump from being voted in as president by the Electoral College on Monday.”
The paper said harassment of electors has been reported in many states, including Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, Arizona, Utah and Michigan.
One elector in Arizona said she has received more than 50,000 emails, including 1,500 just Wednesday morning, demanding she not vote for Trump. An elector in Tennessee said she’s received 2,000 emails, 120 letters and five phone calls urging her not to vote for Trump.
WND also reported on the media blitz against Trump last week.
A number of Hollywood celebrities released a video begging GOP electors not to vote for Trump.
Anchored by actor Martin Sheen, who played the president on television’s “West Wing,” the celebrities plead for 37 “conscientious Republican electors” to deny Trump the presidency by not voting for him. The actors say they would “respect” those electors as “heroes.”
Sheen warns, “As you know, our Founding Fathers built the Electoral College to safeguard the American people from the dangers of a demagogue and to ensure that the presidency only goes to someone who is to an ’eminent degree and down with the requisite qualifications.'”
The actors repeatedly insist they are not asking electors to vote for Clinton, just not to vote for Trump.
Their message claims, “What is evident is that Donald Trump lacks more than the qualifications to be president. He lacks the necessary stability and clearly the respect for the Constitution of our great nation.”
The video, released on YouTube by a group called Unite for America, does not have any superstar Democrats such as George Clooney or Barbara Streisand, but it does include such recognizable actors as Debra Messing, Noah Wyle, Mike Farrell and Loretta Swit.
Additionally, Democratic Party activist Daniel Brezenoff ran full-page newspaper ads across the country on Wednesday urging Electoral College members to “vote their conscience” as part of what Politico called “a pressure campaign intended to block the election of Donald Trump.”
The ads ran in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Austin American-Statesman, Salt Lake City Tribune and Tampa Bay Times, and in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday.
The ads said Trump’s “inauguration would present a grave and continual threat to the Constitution, to domestic tranquility and to international stability.”
As WND reported last week, the plan to stop Trump in the Electoral College was the brainchild of Democrats who call themselves “The Hamilton Electors.”
But, as WND also reported, a survey of electors taken by the Associated Press seems to strongly indicate the plan was not working, because, “Most of it is falling on deaf ears.”
The AP said it tried to contact all 538 electors and actually interviewed more than 330 of them. It found little appetite among electors of either party to go rogue.
But even stopping Trump in the Electoral College probably would not have stopped him from becoming president.
That’s because if no one candidate receives enough votes in the Electoral College to become president, the election would move to the House of Representatives, where Trump would have almost certainly won.
To become president, 270 votes in the Electoral College are needed. Trump earned 306 electoral votes in the general election, and Clinton won 232.
If no candidate had received 270 votes on Monday in the Electoral College, the election would have gone to the House of Representatives.
The House would have then held what is called a “contingent election” in which each state would receive one vote, with the GOP holding a majority.
Just 37 Republican electors would have needed to defect to deny Trump victory in the Electoral College, which is what fueled Democrats’ hopes.
And, according to Fox News, “The Hamilton Electors hope that House Republicans would then pick the alternative Republican over Trump.”
But that would not have seemed possible.
That’s because the rules for a contingent election of the president in the House, outlined in the 12th Amendment, stipulate that only the three candidates who received the most electoral votes are eligible, when no one candidate reaches 270.
And the only candidates who received any Electoral College votes were Trump and Clinton.
Runners-up Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and the Green Party’s Jill Stein won no Electoral College votes.
And no viable third candidate had emerged. Of the names mentioned as possibilities, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has stayed mum, and Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio tweeted, “The election is over.”