I listened and read the entire transcript of the call that Trump made to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, on Saturday trying to get him to just ‘find’ 11,780 new Trump votes to overturn Joe Biden’s 11,779 margin of victory in the state. In the one-hour call, he spoke for about 90% of the time and shifts around from pleading (“So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”) to threatening to whining, but mostly whining. All the while he flings around all manner of numbers that he got from who knows which he purports to show that he won by tens of thousands of votes or by hundreds of thousands or even by half a million. As Raffensperger and his lawyer Ryan Germany try to rebut each point, Trump just moves to another one.
But there was one thing that jumped out at me. I had been working on the assumption that Trump knew that he had lost the election and that his claims about a stolen election was a grift to get people to send him money. The grift angle is still valid but my reason for thinking that he knew he had lost was because no person in his right mind could think otherwise. But listening to him and reading the transcript raised the disturbing possibility that Trump is actually living in a delusional world.
Remember, he said all these things in what he thought was a private phone call, not in some public forum where he is talking to his cult followers who seems to be willing to believe anything he says, however outlandish. He seems to have really fallen into a mental abyss where he thinks that he really did win the election but that a huge conspiracy has been at work to thwart him.
I had assumed that once Congress certifies the election on Wednesday, he would find some face-saving way of easing himself out of the White House. But now, given my dark forebodings about his mental state, I am not so sure, which raises the question of what happens as January 20th draws near. Much attention has been paid to the official transition between outgoing government officials and the Biden transition team. But what about the personal aspect? On January 20th, after the inauguration ceremony, the president and spouse take the traditional walk to the helicopter and fly away, and the new president and spouse move in. That traditional ritual signifying a peaceful transition is becoming increasingly unlikely.
But what about all their stuff? When do they normally start the process of moving the outgoing resident’s stuff and the new one’s stuff in? This article outlines what happened when Barack Obama moved in back in 2009.
The president-elect is responsible for arranging transportation for his furniture, clothes, and personal effects from Chicago to a White House storage facility in Maryland (where they also keep antiques, Easter decorations, paintings, etc.). The Secret Service oversees the whole process, which usually happens the week before the inauguration. It provides an escort for the moving vehicles and screens all items—books, desks, chairs—before they enter the facility. But Obama has to cover the transportation costs, either with personal funds or money raised for his campaign or transition.
Once the incoming president’s stuff is on White House grounds, the residence staff takes custody of his possessions. The chief usher, who coordinates move-in day, provides the staff with White House floor plans and photos that indicate where each item goes.
The Inauguration Day move-in takes about six hours. It starts at 10:30 a.m., when the sitting president and the first lady have a traditional tea with the president-elect before heading over to Capitol Hill for the swearing-in. Once they leave, the 93-person staff shifts into high gear. (They don’t hire outside help for security reasons as well as privacy.) The operations personnel does the heavy lifting while a housekeeping detail helps prepare the bedrooms, curators make sure the furnishings and décor are just so, florists worry about bouquet arrangements, and the chefs prepare the post-inauguration dinner. At the same time, the staff moves the ex-president out. Items get loaded into boxes, which get loaded into vans and then military cargo planes that carry everything to the former president’s new residence. With only two elevators, it’s organized chaos. [My italics-MS]
So it looks like Trump’s stuff will not get moved out until inauguration day.
While it is true that the furniture and other big stuff does not get moved, making things a little easier, surely some preparatory work has to be done even before that day to make sure that all and only the personal effects are taken? What if Trump refuses to cooperate in that process?