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As the Electoral College prepares to meet, Trump remains defiant

Members of the Electoral College will gather in their respective states on Monday to cast their official votes for president, a process that is usually a straightforward formality. But this year could be different. Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss President Trump’s ongoing baseless attacks on the election results, the electoral college process, and more.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For more on the President's continued baseless claims of victory, the Electoral College and the transition to a new presidential administration, Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins us now from Santa Barbara.

    All right, Jeff, here we are, the President still contends that he did not lose this election, that it was rigged against him with no evidence. Tomorrow, 538 electors are supposed to meet. That is supposed to be the ultimate decision on making Joe Biden our next president by January 20th. Any last-minute twists?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Once they cast their votes, there's one more step yet to go, and that is on January 6th, the new Congress meets in joint session to formally accept the state-by-state returns. If one member of the House and one member of the Senate objects to any state's report, the Congress retreats to their respective chambers, they debate for two hours and vote.

    Now, given a Democratic House and enough Republican senators who already said 'enough,' the outcome is certain, although with Mike Pence as the presiding officer, Vice President, there could be further glitches. But I do really think that, formally, January 6 should end it and Biden will be officially the president-elect.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    At that point, do Republicans say, fine, Joe Biden is the next president?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    On Earth one, I would say that, that's right. But you now have just today a CBS News poll showed something like 82 percent of Republicans or Trump voters think Biden was not legitimately elected. And a majority of Trump voters want Congress to keep fighting.

    So what you have here is a situation where we had 126 members of the House, Republicans, a majority, and a majority of Republican state attorneys-general asked the Supreme Court to invalidate millions of votes and literally turn those, those states over to the state legislature so that Trump could be reelected. Under those circumstances, I don't see any reason to think that you're going to find a, uh, 'OK, it's over. Let's all cooperate.'

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So why? Why did that happen?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    You now have, deep in the Republican Party, a belief that expanding the right to vote, making it easy to vote, cost Trump the election. The mail-in ballots, the way you could correct signature verification problems, more drop off places. It was the argument in the Supreme Court by the Texas Attorney General that only the state legislatures could do that, that election officials exceeded their power.

    And what I think you're going to see is Republicans being very, very careful that in the next election, they're going to make it harder to vote, because I think there's a belief, as I said, that it was too easy to vote this time. And the people who took advantage of that were, by and large, Democratic voters. And Republican state legislatures, they're just going to change the laws as much as they can, and their power is pretty complete to just tighten the ability to vote.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Where does this put the popular vote, in the grand scheme of things?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    From 1952 to 1988, Republicans won the popular vote seven out of ten times. Since 1988, they've only won it once. It does seem that the Republican Party now believes it cannot win the popular vote and it has turn to the Electoral College and those close battleground states and tighter voting laws to have a chance at the presidency. Again, it's quite unusual in American politics and if I may say so, quite disheartening.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Just this week, we also saw a tension between Congress and the President over defense spending reauthorization. Why is this significant?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Well, it's significant because this is the one time when the Congress may override a Trump veto. It hasn't happened in four years. Trump is saying, I'm going to veto this bill unless you change the law that limits liability of major telecommunications companies like Google and Facebook. And, I want the bill vetoed because I don't like the idea of changing the names of military installations named after Confederate.

    By and large, there are solid majorities always in Congress that support the troops, get this bill passed so that we're not left defenseless. And I think this would be the one time, particularly since Trump is pretty much certain to not be president for very longer, that the Republicans in Congress are willing to say, OK, on this one, we're not going along with you.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jeff Greenfield joining us from Santa Barbara, thanks so much.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Thank you, Hari.

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