Trump reportedly baffled that Mike Pence can't simply declare him president again

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Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the record-setting electoral shellacking he received in November have been both increasingly brazen, and increasingly desperate — so much so that the very real dangers posed by an unstable autocrat doing his best to pull off an autogolpe have been mitigated (or at least obscured) by the sheer ineptitude of the whole thing.

With his options in the courts dwindling, Trump has now reportedly set his sights on January 6, when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College vote that will cement Joe Biden as the next President of the United States, once and for all. That certification — essentially the final, prerequisite formality in Joe Biden's home stretch sprint to Inauguration Day — is traditionally overseen by the President of the Senate, A.K.A. Vice-President Mike Pence, upon whom Trump has allegedly been focusing much of his post-election ire.

According to CNN, Trump is so ignorant of the constitutionally prescribed process for presidential elections that he is reportedly "confused" when aides try to explain why Pence can't simply hand him an Electoral College victory on January 6. Pence, for his part, has apparently joined in with the president's advisors in trying to convince Trump that actually, no, he can't just decide who gets to be the next president, even though he does technically oversee the process.

Trump's reality-adjacent attempt to push Pence into gaming the Electoral College system, while a complete legal dead end, nevertheless puts Pence, and the rest of the Republican Senate in a tricky situation. If, as some have threatened, there are objections to the Electoral College vote — ones which would inevitably go nowhere — it would turn the certification process into the sort of extended circus likely to blow back in the GOP's face. On the other hand, if Trump perceives the Republicans as not fighting hard enough for him, it's equally likely that he would personally lash out at whomever he feels is responsible for delivering yet another ignominious defeat.

Pence, meanwhile, is apparently savvy enough to see a no-win situation when it presents itself. He's reportedly preparing to skip town for a last minute swing through the Middle East and North Africa just hours after the Electoral College Certification process is over.