Donald Trump must be defeated by a big margin in the upcoming presidential election, which is the most important in the nation’s history, according to Eric Swalwell – the Democratic congressman who represents portions of Alameda County including Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin.

Only by voting the president out decisively will the U.S. avoid the “chaos” that is likely to ensue if he is narrowly defeated, Swalwell warned.

If that happens – “if Biden wins, but it’s close” – Swalwell fears that the president will file “frivolous lawsuits” that will lead to civil turmoil that foreign governments will “amplify on social media.”

Swalwell made these claims in an online interview streamed last week by the Commonwealth Club, the San Francisco public forum. Interviewer was Raj Mathai, news anchor of KNTV, the Bay Area NBC affiliate.

Swalwell’s recently published book, “Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump,” served as a foundation for the discussion.

Swalwell possessed an insider’s view of the impeachment process. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which developed articles of impeachment that led to the president’s trial in the Senate. (Trump was acquitted by the Senate of all charges in February.)

Beyond impeachment, the Commonwealth Club interview ranged widely over topics like longstanding issues of gun control and the availability of health care, as well as more recent ones like the Black Lives Matter movement and response to the pandemic.

Sporting a new beard, the four-term congressman spoke from his home in Washington, D.C. The interview was recorded and starts at the 18.30 mark at

In his opinion as an attorney and a former prosecutor, Swalwell believes that the danger of post-election turmoil is particularly high because Attorney

General William Barr has been acting “as Trump’s personal lawyer, when he needs to be America’s lawyer.”

Barr has acted to carry out Trump’s political bidding in seeking reduced jail sentences for political allies, like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, and harsher ones for critics, like Michael Cohen, Swalwell charged.

Barr has also repeated Trump’s criticism of mail-in ballots, even though they have been used for years to increase voter participation. There is no evidence that their use increases voter fraud; they represent the only ballot system in some states like Oregon.

“I think you can just close your eyes and see on Nov. 4 … the Attorney General saying that there are issues in whatever states with mail-in ballots,” he said. “They’re already setting this argument up. “I believe that if the election is close, the president will not accept the result. He’ll file frivolous lawsuits (through the Attorney General), and chaos will ensue.”

He fears that “foreign governments that want to help the president will see that as an opportunity to make the biggest impact by amplifying discord on social media.

“We have to win overwhelmingly,” Swalwell continued. “I think that’s the only way this guy is going to leave and have a peaceful transfer of power.”

Swalwell further noted that despite the challenges of the next several months, he is optimistic about the election outcome based on the merits of the candidates.

He believes the president can’t seriously defend his performance. He repeated a question that Ronald Reagan asked when he ran successfully against a seated president, Jimmy Carter, in 1980: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

He believes the question prompts Americans first to consider their own situation and then to reflect on the caliber of national leadership over the past four years.

He expects most Americans today to feel that they are worse off based on job losses, a pandemic and major recession, U.S. loss of international stature, lack of thoughtful and sympathetic national leadership, and a range of social issues, starting with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think (Trump) is in real trouble,” Swalwell stated. “I think it’s going to be an earthquake election if we can get through the misinformation and voter suppression and welcoming of foreign interference.”

Swalwell considers it essential to take every possible legal step to combat voter suppression efforts, like restricting voting times and places. He wants to do this quietly and through the courts.

“You can suppress the vote by talking all day long about suppressing the vote,” he said.

He fears that marginal voters might stay home if they get the idea that “this (election) is already baked,” so there’s no point in attending a polling station.

If the election outcome does favor the Democrats, Swalwell vows to make every effort to work in a bipartisan manner.

“What I pledge (is to) reach across the aisle,” he said. “(I will) encourage Vice President and, hopefully, President Biden to have a team-of-rivals cabinet; not just one Republican but several … and show the country the unity that we need to move forward.”

Although impeachment failed to lead to a conviction – an outcome that Swalwell considers preordained because of Republican dominance in the Senate – he still considers it to have been a necessary and worthwhile effort.

For one thing, he believes the evidence of serious misbehavior was compelling. The president really did withhold aid to force a political favor from Ukraine. Second, ignoring the issue would “lower the standard” and allow future presidents to misbehave. Third, standing up to the president actually “stopped his corruption … Once we launched that investigation, that’s when Ukraine got the aid they were supposed to get.”