"No Reasonable Person"

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Sidney Powell, the former federal prosecutor turned election conspiracy theorist, is being sued by Dominion (the company that makes the voting machines she and others claimed were rigged to give Joe Biden the electoral victory in 2020) for an insane amount of money. This is not new, mind you. It became public months ago.

But what is new is Powell’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In it, she claims that “no reasonable person” would actually take her seriously.

Except… a lot of seemingly reasonable people took her seriously. Her claims were taken seriously by activists, politicians, the President of the United States himself (critics will debate whether or not he is a reasonable person, though I submit that Donald Trump, for better or worse, knew exactly what he was doing), and so many others took her claims seriously. We can discuss all day whether or not these are all serious people, but enough people, in general, took her seriously enough that her claim is rather absurd.

Powell, who promised a Kraken but couldn’t even deliver a decent plate of calamari, is in major legal trouble, and it’s unlikely that the court will dismiss this suit. Noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made a similar claim in 2017 in a legal battle against his ex-wife.

“No reasonable person actually takes me seriously!” is the oft-repeated claim of conspiracy theorists who get caught up in their own madness. Their conspiracy theories are responsible for a lot of misinformation out there, and they should be held accountable when it causes real harm — like when Powell convinces the President of the United States and his top lawyer to publicly talk about how these voting systems were rigged from the start, or like how Jones called the Sandy Hook shootings a false flag by the government. These instances, and others, do real damage and at times obscure the actual real political battles that are born of these moments of contention.

There are real battles that need to be fought in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The ability of elected officials to change the rules in the middle of receiving votes is a horrifying reality that has to be changed. Election integrity has to be better maintained.

We also have to be more forceful in taking both sides to task over the undermining of election results. The Democrats are still trying to overturn a valid election result from Iowa after months of complaining about Republicans undermining the democratic process.

The election was subject of a mandatory recount of ballots in the counties which were within the district, and after the recount validated the original outcome — but with a much narrower margin — Miller-Meeks was certified the winner by the Iowa Secretary of State.

Hart did not file an election contest in Iowa state courts as provided for by Iowa state law.  Her attorneys claim that the procedures and timeframe applicable to such a contest would not have allowed her claims to be adequately addressed.

Instead, she availed herself of a federal statute that allows a losing House candidate to file a petition in the House of Representatives itself challenging whether the winner as declared by the state actually received the most number of votes.  That statute rests on the provision of the Constitution that gives the House authority to determine the eligibility of persons to serve as members.

This greenlight from Nancy Pelosi is a clear move to bolster her own ranks — her margin in the House is among the slimmest seen in American history — and is facing backlash from both sides of the political aisle (and for good reason).

Even Politico points out this week how tenuous the moral claim to this move is.

Democrats maintain that the House Admin’s rulings and the motivations of the DCCC are two different things — but it would be politically naive to believe that. The judge in this case is essentially the prosecutor — and yes, this is totally allowed under the Constitution.

Still, the flip of the script here is really something to behold. Republicans who followed Trump’s demand that they object to the Electoral College votes, without any proof of fraud, are suddenly calling foul on Hart’s use of Congress to challenge her own election results.

But Democrats were just as adamant about the need to respect state-certified elections. If they side with Hart, the party will be effectively throwing out the decision of local election officials.

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4) Skittish moderates. There’s still a question of whether Democratic leaders can pull this off — in part because of their own skittish members. The House would have to vote on this, and in recent days, multiple Democrats have gone on record to express their reservations with overturning a state-certified election after blasting Trump for his shenanigans. On Fox News, Rep. DAVID PRICE (D-N.C.)said, “I don’t think there’s the slightest chance that that would happen.”

We’ve also spoken to Democrats in some of the most competitive House districts who donot want to vote on this. With a 219-211 majority, Pelosi couldn’t afford to lose more than a couple of votes if it reaches a floor vote.

5) Dangerous precedent? Republicans are already threatening that if Democrats do this, they’ll be blazing a path for future majorities to overrule state election results. What happens to election integrity if this becomes a regular thing?

Just as no reasonable person should take the wild claims of Sidney Powell seriously, no reasonable person should see the House overturning a state-certified election result as anything other than a dangerous partisan precedent. Like I said yesterday and several times before, you know Democrats don’t want Republicans to ever have this power, so why would they give it to themselves knowing it would set the precedent?

None of this is reasonable behavior, and it needs to be treated as irrational and dangerous for the health of the republic.