Explanatory Note: The Steady State was founded because former senior members of the U.S. national security community see Donald Trump as a danger to the democracy of this country. The threat he poses to our democracy intensifies every day of this election cycle.

We have seen autocrats in other countries steal elections and destroy their democracies. Imagining what Trump and his campaign looks like to other countries, especially longtime allies, illustrates exactly how dangerous Trump and his Senate and media allies are to the United States. Until November 3, 2020, The Steady State will write reports that reflect what we see as the current president of the United States follows the autocrat’s playbook more and more closely, and will mimic what we would be writing back to our own leaders, if this were happening in another country. Again, the reports are based on our own experiences watching candidates in other countries undermine legitimate elections with lies and violence. We have chosen to present the writings as coming from the Ambassador and Secret Service of an imaginary country, an established democracy, which is a long-time ally of the U.S., the fictional country, Freedonia.

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The following is a report from the Freedonian Secret Service’s representative to the United States, covering 22–25 September 2020.

FREEDONIA LOCAL SERVICE CHIEF (LCS) SITUATION REPORT #2 ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S REFUSAL TO COMMIT TO A PEACEFUL TRANSITION

WASHINGTON, DC

THE WEEK OF 21–15 SEPTEMBER 2020 HAS BEEN TUMULTUOUS — EVEN BY RECENT STANDARDS. THIS IS THE SECOND OF TWO SITREPS DETAILING EVENTS, ATMOSPHERICS, AND OUR CONCERNS RE: THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SCHEDULED FOR 3 NOVEMBER 2020.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, WHEN ASKED IF HE WOULD ACCEPT THE OUTCOME OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, REFUSED TO CONFIRM THAT HE WOULD. INSTEAD, HE REPEATED HIS ATTACKS ON MAIL IN BALLOTS (ALTHOUGH HE HAS, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. PRESS REPEATEDLY RELIED ON MAIL IN VOTING HIMSELF). THE REPUBLICAN LEADER OF THE U.S. SENATE, MITCH MCCONNELL, SEEMED TO REFUTE THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT, SAYING THAT THERE WOULD BE “AN ORDERLY TRANSITION, JUST AS THERE HAS BEEN EVERY FOUR YEARS SINCE 1792.”

NEITHER MCCONNELL NOR THE PRESIDENT, HOWEVER, SEEMS TO BE WILLING TO STATE THAT THE TRANSITION WILL BE PEACEFUL, BECAUSE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WILL RESPECT THE WISHES OF THE VOTERS. INSTEAD, EACH HAS SEEMED TO SUGGEST THAT WHATEVER THE VOTERS CHOOSE, THE ELECTION OUTCOME WILL BE DECIDED IN THE COURTS. THE PRESIDENT AND MCCONNELL HAVE PUSHED HARD TO HAVE A CONSERVATIVE JUSTICE CONFIRMED IMMEDIATELY TO REPLACE JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, WHICH SEEMS TO SUPPORT THE CONCLUSION THAT SHOULD THE VOTERS CHOOSE FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL FIGHT IT IN COURT.

LCS COMMENT: ATTACKING THE VOTING SYSTEM AND THE LEGITIMACY OF ITS RESULTS IS A STRATEGY THAT WE HAVE WITNESSED BEFORE, WHEN ELECTED DEMOCRACIES HAVE BEEN DISMANTLED AND REPLACED BY AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES. IT SEEMS NOT UNLIKELY, THAT UNLESS FORMER VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN IS ELECTED BY OVERWHELMING NUMBERS, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL TAKE THE STEP OF TURNING TO THE SUPREME COURT TO VALIDATE THEIR DESIRED OUTCOME. ALMOST REGARDLESS OF TRUTH, THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION WILL BE VIEWED AS ILLEGITIMATE BY A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF U.S. CITIZENS. THIS WILL MAKE GOVERNING, BY EITHER SIDE ESSENTIALLY IMPOSSIBLE, THUS EXACERBATING THE PROBLEMS THE U.S. NOW FACES.

OF SOME CONCERN IS THE FACT THAT WITH TWO EXCEPTIONS, EVERY REPUBLICAN SENATOR — INCLUDING THOSE RETIRING AND THOSE WHO HAVE SWORN TO RESPECT THE INSTITUTION OF THE SENATE — SUPPORTS WHAT IS AN EXTRAORDINARILY UNUSUAL RUSH TO NAME A CONSERVATIVE JUDGE. IT WOULD SUGGEST SOME UNUSUAL DEGREE OF FEALTY TO THE PRESIDENT, THE ORIGINS OF WHICH ARE UNCLEAR AND DISTURBING.

WE HAVE SERVED IN COUNTRIES WHICH HAVE SLID INTO AUTOCRACY — A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT BY ONE PERSON WITH ABSOLUTE POWER, FOLLOWING EXACTLY THE TRAIN OF EVENTS THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP IS NOW PREDICTING AND PROMISING. THE PRESIDENT HAS OFTEN EXPRESSED HIS ADMIRATION FOR SUCH AUTOCRATS, FROM VLADIMIR PUTIN, TO KIM JUNG UN, TO MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN, AND ON AND ON. IT SEEMS THAT HE TRULY ASPIRES TO THAT STANDARD.

We are veterans of the U.S. National Security Community who believe that President Trump presents a clear and present danger to America’s safety and security.