As Green Party candidate Jill Stein gets ready to spark a recount of the Wisconsin presidential vote in an effort now joined by the Clinton campaign, President-elect Donald Trump has started lashing out. The latest: he is calling into doubt the legitimacy of the election that made him President-elect, now insisting — with no evidence — that he actually “won” the popular vote that now has former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead by more than two million votes. He’s claiming her popular vote margin came from illegal immigrants casting votes.
So now, as he transitions to the White House, it’s abundantly clear what will be a keystone of Trump’s presidency, the same thing that was a keystone of his norm-destroying Presidential campaign:
The big lie. Experts are saying it’s false. Others point to the fact that Trump is picking up another Twilight Zone-ish far right conspiracy theory.
But the danger is this: we now have a President-elect who without a shred of actual evidence is claiming illegal immigrants voted and he actually won the popular vote. What’s likely to follow? 1)Conservative talkers will take this narrative and run with it, 2)in a political culture where actually trying to confirm what a politician says is oh, so 20th century, many of his followers will believe it and some conservative pundits on the web could start to parrot it, 3)it will (again) be a case of scapegoating a minority community, painting it in broadbrush, demonizing strokes, 4)it could enhance the coming administration to move towards expanding voter suppression under the guise of the unconfirmed, zero-evidence allegation that Clinton’s lead in the popular vote was due to illegal immigrants.
Donald Trump on Sunday used the platform of the presidency to peddle a fringe conspiracy theory to justify his loss of the popular vote, claiming without evidence that millions of people voted illegally Nov. 8.
Trump’s tweets marked an unprecedented rebuke of the U.S. electoral system by a president-elect and were met with immediate condemnation from voting experts and others. And they offered a troubling indication that Trump’s ascension to the highest political office in the United States may not alter his penchant for repeating unproven conspiracies perpetuated by the far-right.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump wrote on Twitter. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim and PolitiFact ruled it false.
Several hours later, he added more specifics, but again without any evidence: “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!”
Election law experts quickly rejected Trump’s claims as farfetched.
Ezra Klein offers nine points. Here are a few of them:
1. Trump has lost the thread of his own argument. The point of Trump’s tweets was to dismiss those questioning the legitimacy of the vote. “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems,” he tweeted, adding, “Nothing will change.” But here, Trump undermined himself. If Democrats worry the votes were miscounted, and the president-elect believes that millions of people voted fraudulently, then it’s clear we need a recount to restore faith in the outcome of the election.
3.This tweet is an example of Trump’s most dangerous quality: his tendency to mobilize against a threatening, sometimes imaginary Other whenever he himself is under siege. There is no evidence of significant voter fraud from this election. But Trump is telling his supporters that voting fraud did in fact happen, and that they should therefore worry that their political power will be overwhelmed by illegal voters.
4.The nightmare scenario in 2016 was that Trump would refuse to accept the outcome of the election when he was a mere candidate. Imagine if he were to refuse to accept the outcome of the next election once he is the president, and after he has appointed loyalists to control America’s security apparatus.
5.Imagine this tendency of Trump’s emerging after a domestic terrorist attack. George W. Bush worked hard in the aftermath of 9/11 to tamp down Islamophobia in America — to ensure it was al-Qaeda (and, eventually, Saddam Hussein) who was blamed, not American Muslims. Who would Trump blame in the aftermath of a terrorist attack? How quick would he be to turn Americans against each other, to find an enemy who could absorb the public anger that might normally attach itself to him?
Klein also notes that would be scarier if (as he suspects) Trump truly believes this because he is dangerously “gullible.”
Go to the link to read it in its entirety.
Something has clearly been gnawing at Donald Trump. Sure, he won the electoral vote and therefore the presidency, but he lost the popular vote by 2.2 million votes — and counting. (Counting mostly in California, where Democrat Hillary Clinton won easily and where there are 1.4 million more ballots to tally.) Trump’s victory is marred by that fact: He will be the president, but more people voted against him.
With news that Clinton’s campaign would join the Green Party’s Jill Stein to review ballots in key Midwestern states, Trump went on a Twitter tirade, dismissing Clinton’s decision as hypocritical and that it would end with the same result. (“Sad!” he added.)
That’s probably true. But he couldn’t resist taking the idea one step further in another tweet Sunday afternoon.
…. The president-elect of the United States is willing to embrace unproven and highly questionable data to raise questions about the electoral process even after he won simply to soften the blow of losing the popular vote. Trump has repeatedly suggested, including in his Thanksgiving message, that the country must unite behind his presidency. Casting the votes of millions of Americans as somehow suspect seems like an odd way to achieve that goal.
In a post that needs to be read in full, John Aravosis writes:
In an astonishing claim that could argue for a recount of the entire vote nationwide, Donald Trump claimed this afternoon that “millions” over people “voted illegally” in the presidential election.
Trump added, in an impulsive series of tweets, that he would have won the popular vote had the alleged “millions” not voted illegally.
…..The incoming President of the United States claims that we have such massive voter fraud that millions of people voted illegally — so many in fact that they switched the winner in the popular vote. That is one heck of a claim, and on its face could argue for a nationwide recount and audit of the vote. A recount to double-check the numbers; and an audit to ensure that the numbers are correct, e.g., there was no cheating, no hacking, etc.
Trump’s “millions of votes stolen” claim is also astounding in that it shows just how bothered Trump is by the fact that Hillary Clinton is now beating Trump in the popular vote by at least 2.2 million votes, or by 1.4 points. I ran the numbers yesterday, and Trump’s is the 3rd weakest election of a president in American history. And if you look at the raw numbers, the 2.2 million loss to Hillary, Trump’s is the worst “victory” ever.
To call Trump’s popular-vote loss to Hillary a lack of a mandate is an understatement. Hillary Clinton arguably received the mandate on November 8, while the public voted in record numbers to repudiate Donald Trump.
And that is why Trump is now openly freaking out on Twitter, as many of us predicted he would — just not this soon. Only 8 hours ago I predicted that if you want to get under Trump’s skin, question his legitimacy. Today’s tweets prove that I was right.
Donald Trump has continued his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s support for election recounts in three states, claiming he won the popular vote
if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”.
The president-elect, who offered no evidence for his claims, earlier called the recount effort a “scam”, while senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called Green party candidate Jill Stein and Clinton “a bunch of crybabies and sore losers”.
Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, wrote on Saturday that the campaign would support Stein’s effort in Wisconsin, where a recount will take place. Stein is also pushing for recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan and has raised more than $6m online to fund such efforts.
The decision put the Clinton camp at odds with the Obama White House, which has expressed confidence in election results.
Trump is currently losing the popular vote by over 2 million to Hillary Clinton, the person who is not about to be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. This lead will likely grow as more ballots are tallied in California, a predominately blue state.
There is absolutely zero evidence that “millions of people voted illegally,” and to suggest so undermines the entire electoral process; the very process that actually made Trump the next president. The claim, which has been widely spread and thoroughly debunked, was pushed by Trump acolyte Alex Jones, who traffics in conspiratorial lies including a theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was a staged event.
The tweet was one of many sent in the aftermath of a decision by the Clinton campaign to take part in a recount of vote totals in a few key states, including Wisconsin, after Green Party candidate Jill Stein raised money for the effort. Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s counsel, made it clear that they found no evidence of tampering with voting machines in the states in question but wanted to “ensure that it is fair to all sides.”
This is not going to affect Donald Trump. There isn’t going to be some massive, unearthed discovery of secret votes that usurps his fairly won election and throws it into the hands of his opponent. It is merely a cautionary procedure in an election that was decided by small margins in a handful of Rust Belt states.
Yet the man who is set to become the most powerful person in the world is treating it as if his life is on the line. It is outrage for the sake of outrage; selfish attention-grabbing to ensure that, no matter what, he has something to sit and gripe about. It is stoking resentment for resentment’s sake and sowing doubt as a means for him to be the final arbiter of what is fair, right, and true.
Trump just finished saying (earlier today) that the recount wouldn’t matter. He’s right that it won’t change anything except to make Hillary look like a raging hypocrite. Why add the bit about millions of people who voted illegally, something which he cannot back up and which only brings up an argument (the results of the popular vote) that doesn’t matter anyway? The proper response to anyone who says Hillary won the popular vote is, “So what?” Leave it at that. Why start arguing about a counter-factual when you won? Trump is the next President of the United States. That should be enough.
Trump’s latest lie seems to have originated from the conservative conspiracy website Infowars, which published an article claiming that Trump actually won the popular vote because “three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens.”
The tweet followed an earlier string of posts in which Trump railed against Clinton, claiming her campaign was hypocritical to participate in a vote recount because she criticized him when he would not affirm whether he would accept the results of the election.
Now it seems that Trump won’t even fully accept the results of the election even though he won it.
A few days ago I mentioned that the Trump campaign was pretty dedicated to sending Hillary Clinton’s popular vote win down the memory hole. To accomplish this, they began a gaslighting offensive to persuade the nation that Donald Trump was one of the biggest winners ever in presidential history. Kellyanne Conway kicked things off by telling Fox News, “This election was not close. It was not a squeaker.” Two days later, Trump himself defended his loss of the popular vote: “If the election were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in N.Y. Florida and California and won even bigger and more easily.”
Then Corey Lewandowski upped the ante, claiming that Trump “won the election campaign by the largest majority since Ronald Reagan in 1984.” I guess this was a little too raw even for Trumpland, so Reince Priebus beavered away and finally found something to justify Lewandowski’s toadying: “Donald J. Trump won over 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Reagan in 1984.” But that still wasn’t enough. The whole popular vote thing is apparently a serious burr in Trump’s saddle, and he wasn’t happy with all this shilly-shallying. So today he decided to go for broke and insist that he just won, period..
So there you have it. It’s just twisting Trump’s guts that more people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for him. And this whole recount thing in Wisconsin seems to have driven him bananas. The result is a tweet alleging that the Clinton campaign orchestrated millions of illegal votes in 2016.2 This message went out to all 16 million of his followers, who will surely pass it along to another 16 million or so—and then the media will pass it along to yet millions more.
This is an obvious lie, and it will probably take a few hours for Trump’s TV shills to figure out how to defend it
President-elect Donald Trump, a radioactive double chin with a Twitter account, has demonstrated time and again that his skin—though infused with neon bacteria—is perilously thin. And now, as Hillary Clinton’s popular vote steadily eclipses his own, and as Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein begins submitting recount petitions, Trump’s insecurity has lapsed into freewheeling madness. He has actually declared, without a scrap of evidence, that he only lost the popular vote due to voter fraud.
And because our next leader of the free world sees fit to air his many petty grievances on Twitter, that is where he made this absurd claim.
A SELECTION OF TWEETS:
I wonder what it would cost to fly a plane carrying a banner with the popular vote tally around Trump Tower all day.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) November 28, 2016
Either he should report this massive fraud to the appropriate authorities or acknowledge how nutty and irresponsible this Tweet is. https://t.co/6DynaP03rO
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 28, 2016
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) November 28, 2016
— MATTY ICE (@FailGOP) November 28, 2016
Trump claims he'd have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal votes. This is garbage, yes, but hey let's audit all the votes then.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 27, 2016
Without California, Trump would have won the popular vote. Without California, USA would be world’s second-ranked technology power.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 28, 2016
Trump can't stand that among non-voters, Hillary voters and Trump voters he came in THIRD. That's why he want to discredit the popular vote.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 27, 2016
Trump Lies About Winning Popular Vote
that's really the only acceptable headline. everything else is press dancing around the truth https://t.co/kSSo5NYd1n
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) November 27, 2016
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) November 27, 2016
You can already see the narrative forming: Trump supporters are saying Clinton only won the popular vote because of "illegals."
— Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) November 27, 2016
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.