Observers say a delayed transition threatens the coronavirus response and national security.
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani hinted at what the United States president is trying to do by refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, saying on Thursday that the Trump camp has “enough evidence” to “overturn the election”.
Giuliani told reporters at a news conference in Washington, DC, that he has collected “enough evidence” of voting fraud in key states to “overturn” Biden’s victory.
“This is really enough to overturn any election,” said Giuliani, who laid out a litany of allegations – not evidence, but unproven allegations – sprinkled with a list of untruths or perhaps, misunderstandings about the vote counting and certification process.
For all of the traditions and norms shattered by Trump during his presidency, publicly musing about and actively making an effort towards “overturning” the will of US voters based on allegations and conspiracy theories really takes the cake.
Saturday will mark three weeks since Trump was declared the loser of the 2020 presidential election. In that time, Trump and his supporters have been operating in an alternate reality, one where Trump won the election and any declaration to the contrary is rooted in illegitimacy or fraud.
Trump and his associates have been yelling into an echo chamber of deeply loyal supporters, arguing that there is no possible way Biden could have won.
This, despite the fact that Biden won in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by more than Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016.
…And with these numbers, by far the highest for a sitting President, there was no way the Dems could have won, except through what we are learning now – A Rigged Election! https://t.co/9coP3R44UQ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2020
Despite their incessant fist-shaking at state elections officials, they have yet to present in a formal setting any evidence of widespread fraud or illegal voting.
Political rhetoric is one thing, but the judicial system will only listen to hard evidence. Their lack of it is resulting in lawsuits being tossed out, Trump-aligned lawyers cutting their ties with the president, and the fraying of judges’ nerves in the states where Trump has filed suit.
This week, during a hearing in a US District Court in Pennsylvania where Giuliani again alleged “widespread, nationwide voter fraud” had taken place, Judge Matthew Brann was incredulous.
“At bottom, you are asking this court to invalidate 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the Commonwealth. Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?” the judge asked.
That lawsuit is pending as the court awaits evidence from the Trump camp.
Pennsylvania Judge Matthew Brann to Giuliani. “At bottom, you’re asking this court to invalidate some 6.8 million votes thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth…Can you tell me how this result could possibly be justified?” He could not; ruling pending. https://t.co/er9UAy6uaX
— jimrutenberg (@jimrutenberg) November 18, 2020
One question that Trump and his backers cannot seem to answer is how there could possibly have been “widespread, nationwide voter fraud” in an elections system that is so diffuse.
Each state administers their own elections and ballots, and oversees multiple votes from president down to the smallest local offices. There is no central, national elections commission that administers federal elections.
The founders of the US designed this set-up deliberately – the Electoral College for presidential elections and state-level administration of US congressional elections – to prevent a president or a cabal from corrupting the vote.
The idea that all of the alleged fraud and irregularities only affected the outcome of one contest – the presidential election – in multiple states, but did not affect any other contest on the same ballots in those states is nonsensical.
If there was widespread fraud, there would undoubtedly be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of candidates from both parties who would be crying foul and demanding justice – and that is simply not happening.
“In terms of the level of corruption we’re looking at here, we have no idea how many Republican or Democratic candidates in any state across the country paid to have the system rigged to work for them,” Trump lawyer Sidney Powell said during Thursday’s news conference.
To suggest without evidence that there is a massive bipartisan nationwide conspiracy to deny Trump a second term does not make much sense, and relying on an unproven “national conspiracy”, as Giuliani put it on Thursday, as the basis to “overturn the election” is simply stunning.
Is Trump’s motivation really an attempt to cling to power by any means possible, or is it simply an effort to save face, not admit defeat and raise enough doubt about the outcome that it appears he could have won?
Whatever his reasons, the one thing we do know is this sustained effort to delegitimise Biden’s victory in a free and fair election is causing millions of Americans to lose total faith in the country’s voting systems.
And that – not whether Trump remains in the White House – may be the true legacy of Trump’s post-election behaviour.