Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Dallas Shootings Dominate News on Friday
      •  Trump Hints That He Might Decline if Victorious
      •  Ginsburg "Doesn't Want to Think" About President Trump
      •  Clinton Wins California

Dallas Shootings Dominate News on Friday

For the last 48 hours, the actions of a lone gunman in Dallas have monopolized headlines in a manner not seen since November of 1963. The gunman, we now know, was a military veteran named Micah Johnson. Angry at white people in general, police officers more specifically, and the shooting of unarmed black man Alton Sterling even more specifically, Johnson decided to target police officers who were providing security for a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas. Five men in blue were killed before Johnson could be neutralized.

Given that the incident involves two of the hottest hot-button issues in American politics—race and gun violence—it was inevitable that politicians across the spectrum would weigh in. Hillary Clinton's response was exactly what we would have expected, which is to say, she walked both sides of the street. The Democrats' presumptive nominee declared that we should, "start listening to the legitimate cries that are coming from our African-American fellow citizens" but also said that, "I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families and all who serve with them." President Obama sounded a similar note, denouncing the "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," while cutting short a European trip so he could visit Dallas.

Donald Trump took a different tack, though one that was fairly measured, by his standards. He characterized the incident as "an attack on our country," and said that, "We must stand in solidarity with law enforcement, which we must remember is the force between civilization and total chaos." Some of his supporters were rather less restrained, with many of them taking to Facebook to declare that the "race war" had begun. Meanwhile, Trump managed to stumble into a Dallas-related mini-controversy on Friday. He contacted the NYPD, and offered to give a pep talk to a roll call of officers. He was promptly turned down by police commissioner William Bratton, who said, "Our interest is staying out of the politics of the moment, not to provide photo ops." The Trump campaign then denied that the offer was ever made. Presumably, Bratton and the NYPD just made it up, then.

The most surprising response to the shootings may be the one that came from Trump's would-be running mate, Newt Gingrich. Participating in a Facebook live chat, the former Speaker acknowledged that:

It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this. If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don't understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.

The current Speaker, Paul Ryan (R-WI), expressed very similar sentiments:

Every member of this body—every Republican and every Democrat—wants to see less gun violence. Every member of this body wants a world in which people feel safe regardless of the color of their skin. And that's not how people are feeling these days.

Ryan's words come as he is trying to shepherd a GOP-authored gun control bill through Congress, one that would ban gun sales to individuals who appear on the federal government's terrorist watch list. He was struggling to get the votes he needs, but then Dallas happened. And on Friday, the same Democrats who led a sit-in two weeks ago delivered tear-filled speeches pleading for action. So, perhaps the path will be clear for some sort of progress. Don't hold your breath, though.

Meanwhile, the elements that came together to make for a tragedy in Dallas will also theoretically be present in Cleveland, when the Republicans meet for their convention in less than two weeks. The city's police union expressed serious concerns on Friday, blasting "politicians" for their "politically motivated and fact-less rhetoric." Needless to say, the convention is going to happen, and the police are going to be there, but it could well be the first time since 1968 that what's happening outside is as newsworthy as what's happening inside. (Z)

Trump Hints That He Might Decline if Victorious

In 1884, Civil War general William T. Sherman rejected the Republican Party's overtures at making him their presidential candidate, saying, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected." Donald Trump seems to have missed the first part of the statement, though he may have gotten the second part down, because on Friday he vaguely implied that he might not accept the presidency if he wins the election in November.

Presumably, Trump was just trying to make a few more headlines, particularly of the variety that do not include the phrases "anti-Semitic" or "small hands." Still, The Donald just added fuel to the conspiracy-theory fire. His curious and seemingly counter-productive campaign style, along with the question of "Why exactly would he want to be president?" have already given rise to speculation that this is all a big put-on. Perhaps he's doing this for laughs, perhaps to promote the Trump brand, perhaps to allow him to lay claim to having engineered the greatest con in American history. Even the slightest suggestion that these theories might be correct has sent certain corners of the Internet into a frenzy.

With that said, let as assume that Trump wins the election and that he declines to serve (both very big assumptions). If so, what would happen? There are three scenarios:

  1. Trump resigns after the election but before the Electoral College meets in December. Something like this has happened before, albeit with the loser—in 1872, Horace Greeley died a week after being trounced by Ulysses S. Grant. What happened then, and what would happen now, is that Trump's electors would be released to vote for whomever they wished. Most or all would be loyal Republican partisans, and if they could agree on a candidate, they could award the presidency to that person. More likely, however, is that they would split their vote, and the presidency would be awarded by the House of Representatives, with each state getting one vote. Since there are 30 states where Republicans are in the majority (with 16 for the Democrats, and 4 where it is tied), they would surely try to choose a Republican to replace Trump. They would only be allowed to choose from the top three finishers, though, so in the event of a split, they would presumably be choosing one of the two Non-Clinton candidates. President Ryan, anyone?

    Now, it is possible that this scenario could turn messy. Let us imagine that Clinton finishes with 240 electoral votes, and that the top two Republicans (in a split vote) are Paul Ryan with 140 and Ted Cruz with 85. Presumably, much of the public would not be thrilled to have someone with considerably fewer electoral votes than Hillary elevated to the presidency. They might even describe that as anti-Democratic. Even worse, however, would be if the House could not choose between Ryan and Cruz (which might be a real issue, since the "winner" would need virtually every Republican-controlled state; 26 out of 30). According to the terms of the 12th Amendment, if the House cannot settle on a candidate, the vice-president elect would become "acting president" who, by the terms of the 20th Amendment, would "act as President until a President shall have qualified." How effective could the acting president be, when he or she could literally be out of the job at any moment, or could linger for months or years, depending on how the winds blow in the House?

  2. Trump resigns after the Electoral College meets, but before being inaugurated. This could be the real chaos scenario. The framers of the Constitution, living in a time when people often died very suddenly, tried to provide for this. The way the Electoral College was originally set up, each elector cast two votes for two different candidates. The first-place finisher was chosen president, and the second-place finisher was chosen vice-president. The thinking was that if #1 died, whether before or after the inauguration, the people would get their second-favorite choice. However, this system triggered a constitutional crisis in 1800, when the emergence of political parties led to a tie between Democratic-Republican presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson and Democratic-Republican vice-presidential candidate Aaron Burr. Jefferson eventually won out, of course, and to stop this from happening again, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution decreed that the electors would vote once for president, and a second time for vice president. Years later, the 20th Amendment clarified things even further, declaring that the vice president elect becomes president if: (a) the president elect dies before being inaugurated, or (b) no person has qualified to be president, or (c) a president has not yet been chosen.

    Perhaps you see the problem: The amendment says nothing about a resignation. If Trump did resign on, say, January 10, then he would not be dead, and he would have already qualified to be president. Ergo, while Trump's vice president elect would have a strong claim on succeeding him, arguing that "resignation" is equivalent to "death," it wouldn't be a slam dunk. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton would have an originalist argument that she was the second-place finisher in "presidential" electoral votes and that she should be the legal replacement for The Donald. The House of Representatives might also lodge a complaint, arguing that they have the authority to choose a replacement under the terms of the 12th Amendment. Depending on Trump's hypothetical resignation date, the courts might be left with just a week or two to unravel it all. With, of course, an eight-member Supreme Court as final arbiter.

  3. Trump resigns after being inaugurated. This is the least likely, but also least disruptive, option. In this case, the vice-president would become president, and that would be the end of the story.

Again, it is unlikely that any of these scenarios would come to pass. Though given everything we've seen this year, you can never be sure. (Z)

Ginsburg "Doesn't Want to Think" About President Trump

Generally, although it is not required, Supreme Court Justices try to remain apolitical. However, like her friend Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for her willingness to share her opinions on just about anything. She sat for an interview with the Associated Press and confirmed two things that we already suspected to be true.

The first revelation was that Ginsburg cannot stand Donald Trump. Given that Ginsburg is a liberal, Jewish woman, this is hardly a surprise. Of more interest was her confirmation that the SCOTUS is likely to undergo big changes in membership in the near future. Choosing her pronouns very deliberately, the Justice said, "It's likely that the next president, whoever she will be, will have a few appointments to make." We already suspected that the 83-year-old Ginsburg was close to throwing in the towel, and that the 79-year-old Anthony Kennedy and the 77-year-old Stephen Breyer might be ready to join her. But now, it would seem, we have it from the horse's mouth. (Z)

Clinton Wins California

No, this is not an accidental repeat from June. When Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of California, the victory was presumptive, based on her lead and on the very low chance she might lose that lead. On that night, however, there were still hundreds of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots to be counted, a job that the Golden State completes at a snail's pace. This, in turn, gave rise to hope (a fantasy?) among supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that he might end up winning, after all.

Now, that hope is no more. California finally finished the job, and Hillary Clinton was confirmed as the winner, 2,745,293 votes to 2,381,714 for Bernie Sanders. Since June 6, Sanders added 879,671 votes to his California total and Clinton added 804,713 votes. That's a pickup of 74,958 votes for the Vermont Senator, which still left him trailing by 363,579. It may be the very last nail in the Sanders 2016 coffin, as he is expected to formally concede defeat and endorse Clinton on Tuesday. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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Jul07 Trump Delegate Math Getting a Little Hairy
Jul07 Rubio Will Skip GOP Convention
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