The Administration

Trump rejects recount and the facts

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Earlier this week, in what is becoming a recurring ritual, Donald Trump had another Twitter meltdown.

This time, instead of proving how Presidential he is by shaming a beauty contestant and encouraging his followers to go watch a non-existent porno, or pushing a racist conspiracy theory about the birthplace of our sitting President, or claiming that nearly every climatologist in the world is party to a Chinese conspiracy which invented climate change to undermine the American manufacturing sector, he instead made the bold claim that the 2016 election was beset by millions, yes millions, of illegal votes.

{mosads}Yes, the President-elect of the United States took to the public platform he uses to shortcut the media and connect directly with his most loyal supporters to tell them that the election, which he ‘won,’ was illegitimate due to massive, unprecedented, “Yuuuuge” levels of voter fraud that cost him the popular vote victory he so richly deserved.

This, after spending days attacking Dr. Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton’s campaign over the efforts to trigger recounts in several key states.

The degree of dissonance it takes to say, in essentially the same breath, “The election was rigged but recounts are a scam,” simply boggles the mind.

If Trump was serious about his accusation of widespread voter fraud stealing his popular vote win and sapping away his legitimacy, he should be demanding recounts in all fifty states and Washington D.C. He won’t, because he can’t. Because there’s no there, there. There’s no evidence. You might call it a lie.

My only question is, whose lie is it? There are two possibilities here.

One: Trump is knowingly lying about fraud in the election in order to continue stirring up the racial resentments of his most fervent supporters, who have taken to social media in droves spreading their own misinformation and propaganda about busses full of illegal immigrants voting in NV, CA, and other states. Claims which can only be found “reported” by the most extreme of rightwing propaganda websites.

Trump himself in the same tweet thread singled out Virginia, California, and New Hampshire as states that experienced “serious” voter fraud. 

Of course, he again neglected to provide a shred of evidence for the claim. Still, the only confirmed cases and arrests for voter fraud in the country has been of his own supporters. The Iowa woman was convinced  — possibly in the wake of Trump’s rhetoric about the election being rigged — that her vote for Trump would be changed to a vote for Clinton, so she attempted to cast two votes for Trump.

Deliberately lying about something as critical to our democratic institutions as the integrity of our election system specifically to erode the public’s trust in them is dangerous, irresponsible, and echoes the sordid history of many an autocrat laying the groundwork for their eventual dismantling. But it may not even be the scariest explanation, because there’s always a chance that…

Two: Trump actually believes this utter nonsense. This possibility is, in many ways, far more terrifying, but perhaps even more plausible.

Trump has a long history of embracing outlandish conspiracy theories. 

Indeed, his time in the political limelight started when he became the public face for one, legitimizing and mainstreaming the Birther movement which lied incessantly about President Obama’s nationality even after multiple lines of converging evidence had already disproven the claim years earlier.

His promise to gut climate research from NASA’s budget as part of a push to stop funding “politicized science” is the product of a disinformation campaign spanning decades, and funded by moneyed interests vested in maintaining the status-quo that has sought to undermine and delegitimize the rock-solid scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming.

Donald Trump has a habit of retweeting and thereby validating unsubstantiated posts from some of the most extreme and unreliable propaganda websites on the net.

Indeed, he’s taken the alarming step of appointing the former head of one of the most blatant peddlers of untruth, Stephen Bannon of Breitbart, to be his White House chief strategist.

Nor is Trump’s distrust of the reality-based media and enthusiastic embrace of propaganda the only warning sign in support of the theory that he actually believes this crap.

Since beginning his transition on Nov. 9, sources close to the White House have confirmed that Trump has only sat down for two national security briefings by representatives of our intelligence services, almost entirely spurning his responsibility to be informed on the security and military situation our nation faces when he takes office in less than two months, at a time the western world faces renewed stress and uncertainty from an ongoing refugee crisis and an increasingly hostile and resurgent Russia.

In response to this, the Trump camp has said the President-elect is getting his news from “other sources.” 

What other sources? What sources does Trump believe are more qualified to provide the President with up-to-the-minute data and analysis on global threats than the world’s largest, best-funded, most technologically advanced, and most experienced security apparatus?

This is a man who, without a trace of shame or self-awareness, proudly boasted “I know more about ISIS than the Generals, believe me.” 

Well, I don’t.

The wholesale rejection of expert testimony Trump displays across an ever-widening array of topics brings to mind nothing less grave than the precursors to the purge of the intelligentsia during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Trump’s obsession with, and validation of fake news via his Twitter account was damaging enough as a candidate. But now as President-elect, it is downright apocalyptic. We’re staring at the very real possibility that an American President will pay more attention to the ramblings of right-wing Reddit and 4chan users than to his own military, diplomatic, and intelligence services when it comes to questions of world affairs.

What happens when the same people spinning tall tales of a flood of illegal voters stealing the election start churning for a war with Iran?

With North Korea? With China, heaven forbid?

The War Powers Act means he can bury us sixty days deep into a war over a rude gesture before his lapdogs in Congress have their first chance to stop it, assuming they even have the spines to do so.

There are only two possibilities: Trump lies to control his followers, or Trump’s followers lie to control him.

I have no idea which one scares me the most.

Tomlinson is an author and regular contributor to the Hill on state, local and national politics. Follow him on Twitter @stealthygeek.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.








Tags Climate change Donald Trump Donald Trump Election electorate Hillary Clinton Recount Trump supporters tweet storm Twitter

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