A lot of people in my inboxes are worried that Donald Trump and his allies in the Republican Party may yet succeed in bringing about what Mike Pompeo called “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” There is now a boomlet of news analyses explaining how unlikely that is—although, frustratingly, it can’t be absolutely, completely ruled out.
Still, Joe Biden sure does seem calm. What the President-Elect knows, and what isn’t getting enough attention, is that major institutions are not supporting Trump’s denial of the election result. And there’s little Trump can do without the backing of major institutions.
Trump obviously doesn’t have the mainstream media, as all major outlets have called the election for Biden. He is even losing Fox News (with the exception of its primetime talking heads), to such an extent that he felt compelled to send out a sad stream of tweets today urging his followers to watch alternate, further right-wing networks.
Trump doesn’t have the business sector, which wishes to move on. CNN compiled statements from business associations and financial titans—Citigroup, Chase, BlackRock, the American Bankers Association, and others—dismissing Trump’s claims.
“For most investors, the perspective is that the election has been settled,” Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief US equity strategist, told CNN Business. “Providing evidence of shenanigans and irregularities is required in a court of law. And I haven’t seen any.”
The stock market indices, meanwhile, went up last week when the vote count started pointing toward Biden.
Trump doesn’t have the federal bureaucracy, whether the mid-level management he derides as “the deep state” or the civil service whose protections he is now seeking to weaken. Look no further than today’s statement from the Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” and that “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Trump doesn’t have the Catholic Church. Pope Francis was quick to recognize Joe Biden, as was the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Trump doesn’t have most U.S. allies. Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Israel, and many others have congratulated Biden. Brazil, Mexico, China, and Russia are still holding out.
Very notably, Trump doesn’t have the U.S. armed forces. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley gave a very pointed statement today:
“We are unique among militaries. We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. No, we do not take an oath to a country, a tribe or religion. We take an oath to the Constitution. And every soldier that is represented in this museum, every sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman, each of us will protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price,” Milley said during remarks at the opening of the US Army’s museum.
There is no reason to doubt that the U.S. intelligence community, which Trump often disparages, shares similar loyalties.
With that many institutions arrayed against his bid to stay in office, Donald Trump is on remarkably shaky ground. What he does have is cabinet loyalists like Mike Pompeo, GOP legislators like Mitch McConnell, and the 70 percent of Republicans who are so deep in the alternative information netherworld that they’re telling pollsters they believe the election was stolen.
That’s enough to make the next two months very ugly and even dangerous. But it’s not enough to keep Trump in the White House past noon on January 20th.