Friday, April 19, 2024

From one lie to another


WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 7: Even for President Trump, it was an imagined version of reality, one in which he was not losing but the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy stretching across the country in multiple cities, counties and states, involving untold numbers of people all somehow collaborating to steal the election in ways he could not actually explain.
Never mind that Trump presented not a shred of evidence during his first public appearance since late on election night or that few senior Republican officeholders endorsed his false claims of far-reaching fraud. A presidency born in a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace appeared on the edge of ending in a lie about his own faltering bid for re-election.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said Thursday night in an unusually subdued, 17-minute televised statement from the lectern in the White House briefing room, complaining that Democrats, the news media, pollsters, big technology companies and nonpartisan election workers had all corruptly sought to deny him a second term.
“This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election,” he said. “They’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen.”
He convinced few people who were not already in his corner. Most of the television networks cut away from the statement on the grounds that what Trump was saying was not true.
On CNN, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican often put in the position of defending Trump over the years, appeared exasperated as he denounced the President’s loose talk of election thievery as “dangerous” and “shocking” and declared that “counting absentee ballots and counting mail-in ballots is not fraud…”
The New York Post, which published salacious articles on Hunter Biden planted by Trump’s associates before the election, headlined an article: “Downcast Trump Makes Baseless Election Fraud Claims in White House Address.” Even Fox News noted it had seen no “hard evidence” of widespread wrongdoing.
“There is no defence for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process,” Governor Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland and a critic of the President, wrote on Twitter. “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy.”
Former Governor Chris Christie, Republican of New Jersey and a longtime ally of Trump’s, likewise disputed the President. “I talk tonight now not as a former Governor but as a former US Attorney ~ there’s just no basis to make that argument tonight,” he said on ABC News. “There just isn’t.”
With his presidency on the line, Trump’s lonely appearance in the briefing room with no allies joining him and only staff members and reporters in attendance underscored how isolated he has become just two days after Election Day.
With vote counts in key states turning grimmer even as he spoke, Trump was poised to end this term in office the way he began his presidential campaign in 2015 ~ defended most vocally by family members and a few loyalists while Republican leaders held him at arm’s length rather than embrace outlandish claims.
With Republican members of Congress largely staying silent or issuing anodyne comments about the importance of transparent vote counting, Trump was left to dispatch his two adult sons to hold news conferences in Pennsylvania and Georgia to protest aspects of the vote count.
They were accompanied by allies like Rudolph W Giuliani, his personal lawyer, and Corey Lewandowski, his first campaign manager from 2016. The same scene played out in Nevada, where a Trump ally, Richard Grenell, made claims about voting fraud that news outlets debunked a short time later.
Members of Trump’s inner circle sounded almost desperate as they sought to threaten other Republicans into backing Trump.
Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump posted messages on Twitter. (NYTNS)