John Bolton: Time is running out for Trump — and Republicans who coddle him

John Bolton: Time is running out for Trump — and Republicans who coddle him

It is simply a truism that Trump has a legal right to pursue all appropriate election-law remedies to ensure an accurate, lawful vote count. To be credible, however, any aggrieved candidate must at some point produce valid legal arguments and persuasive evidence.

Trump has so far failed to do so, and there is no indication he can. If he can’t, his “right” to contest the election is beside the point. The real issue is the grievous harm he is causing to public trust in America’s constitutional system. Trump’s time is running out, even as his rhetoric continues escalating. And time is running out for Republicans who hope to maintain the party’s credibility, starting with Georgia’s two Senate runoffs in January. Here is the cold political reality: Trump is enhancing his own brand (in his mind) while harming the Republican brand. The party needs a long internal conversation about the post-Trump era, but first it needs to get there honorably.

Consider the competing interests. Donald Trump’s is simple and straightforward: Donald Trump. The near-term Republican interest is winning the Georgia runoffs. The long-term Republican interest emphatically involves winning those Senate seats, but it also involves rejecting Trump’s personalized, erratic, uncivil, unpresidential and ultimately less-than-effective politics and governance.

One approach holds that coddling Trump while he trashes the U.S. electoral system will help him get over the loss, thereby making it easier to reconcile him to leaving the Oval Office. But this coddling strategy is exactly backward. The more Republican leaders kowtow, the more Trump believes he is still in control and the less likely he will do what normal presidents do: make a gracious concession speech; fully cooperate with the president-elect in a smooth transition process; and validate the election process itself by joining his successor at the Jan. 20 inauguration.