When you are the president of the United States, a retweet is an endorsement. That’s why Donald Trump’s blizzard of retweets on Saturday should alarm any fair-minded American. He retweeted a call by a fringe right-wing blogger to reinstate right-wing actor James Woods–even though Woods was put in Twitter jail for appearing to call for Trump critics to be publicly lynched.
He retweeted a pearl-clutching message about supposed social media bias against conservatives from Lauren Southern, one of the most zealous promoters of the “white genocide” conspiracy theory–also known as “You will not replace us!” He also retweeted videos from Infowars and a QAnon pusher.
But on Sunday afternoon, Trump hit the retweet button on something that may be even more disturbing than that. He appeared to endorse a call by one of his most zealous religious right supporters to essentially set aside the Constitution and postpone the 2020 election.
Jerry Falwell was one of the founding fathers of the religious right. When he died in 2007, his oldest son, Jerry Jr., succeeded him as president of Liberty University, the Christian university his father founded in Lynchburg, Virginia. In the last decade, Jerry Jr. has proven himself to be his father’s son in every way. Just like Jerry Sr., Jerry Jr. has few qualms about giving his imprimatur to any schmuck that has an “R” next to his name.
It should come as no surprise that Jerry Jr. is one of the many so-called moral guardians who have made Trump a golden calf–or, to be more precise, an orange calf. In the spring of 2017, for instance, he told Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro that the reason he and other socially conservative evangelicals are so loyal to Trump is that he believes Trump is their “dream president.” Watch here.
Jerry Jr. told Judge Jeanine that Trump had given social conservatives virtually everything they wanted–not just on social issues, but on the economy and immigration. He also warned moderate Republicans that they would “pay the price” in 2018 if they didn’t fall into line and back Trump. Translation–Trump must be supported, no matter what. No one is right that often.
So it’s no secret that Jerry Jr. is, in the words of Messiah College professor John Fea, a “court evangelical“–an evangelical who believes influence over Trump is more important than his faith. But even allowing for this fact, a tweet Jerry Jr. fired off on Saturday night is absolutely breathtaking. He believes that the damage Trump suffered from the “Democrat WITCH HUNT” is so severe that the only remedy is to call off the 2020 election.
There are too many alternative facts to count in this tweet. For one thing, it seems that Jerry Jr. stopped reading the Mueller report after Volume 1–as Fea suspects many “court evangelicals” did. Had he read further, he would have discovered numerous instances in which Trump tried to impede or outright derail Mueller’s investigation.
Indeed, according to the New York Review of Books, at least two members of Mueller’s team believed Trump’s behavior indeed rose to the level of obstruction of justice. They would have called for Trump’s indictment had it not been for longstanding Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
What of the NYT supposedly admitting that Obama spied on the Trump campaign? Well, Jerry Jr. must be referring to this article from Friday’s edition, in which we learned that the FBI sent an undercover agent to meet with George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide whose loose talk with an Australian diplomat triggered the investigation.
Consider the implications–a major-party presidential campaign crawling into bed with a hostile foreign power. It would be derelict not to see if there was a there, there. And yet, apparently Jerry Jr. thinks that it’s wrong for the FBI to take such an elementary step.
But the most chilling part of this tweet is Falwell’s call for “reparations” in the form of a postponement of the 2020 elections to 2022. To give you an idea how outrageous this is, no one called for the 1944 election to be postponed even though this country was right in the thick of World War II. And no one even suggested that the 2004 elections be postponed even as the country was reeling from 9-11.
Simply put, Jerry Jr.’s irate demand is unconstitutional and ahistorical. But lest you dismiss this as the ravings of a very fanatical and very misguided Trump supporter, this was actually retweeted by Trump himself. We have a receipt.
There is no way to overstate it. The president of the United States, without legitimate cause or excuse, has effectively called for a regularly scheduled presidential election to be postponed. I repeat, this is unconstitutional and ahistorical. And if Trump is endorsing this, he is showing a staggering level of contempt for the rule of law.
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