WASHINGTON ― Having lost his election for a second term, President Donald Trump, his campaign and his allies are ever more openly just trying to steal it.
In recent days, his campaign has welcomed the idea of disenfranchising all of the voters of Nevada, pushed to have Michigan’s 16 electoral votes awarded by its Republican legislature and alleged, without evidence, “massive fraud” all over the country in a court case in Pennsylvania ― all as Trump posts one lie after another on social media.
“In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!” he wrote Wednesday morning.
“I WON THE ELECTION. VOTER FRAUD ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!” he wrote a couple of hours earlier.
And campaign in-house lawyer Jenna Ellis wrote enthusiastically Tuesday evening of sending the election results in Michigan ― which President-elect Joe Biden won by 154,000 votes ― to the state’s GOP-run legislature: “Huge win for @realDonaldTrump.”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarianism at New York University, said Trump’s claim to have won an election he lost by 74 Electoral College votes and 6 million votes overall is a clear danger sign.
“The red line is the election,” said Ben-Ghiat, whose new book, “Strongmen,” puts Trump in the context of a century of fascist leaders. “If you don’t recognize an election, you have gone into the territory of a non-democracy. It’s pretty easy.”
“There are those, including the president, ... who are perpetuating misinformation and are encouraging others to distrust the election results in a manner that violates the oath of office they took. It is well past time that they stop.”
Ryan Mahoney, who until early this year was a top staffer at the Republican National Committee, called the actions of Trump and his campaign “dangerous and undemocratic” and asked them to stop.
“They’re either purposely spreading false information and conspiracy theories and don’t care, or they actually believe this nonsense,” Mahoney said. “Either way, they’re subverting democracy with evidence-free allegations. There is no evidence of widespread fraud. It’s time to accept the results. Joe Biden won.”
Numerous staffers at the Trump campaign did not respond to HuffPost’s queries on this matter. Nor did White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has been appearing on television for the campaign while continuing to draw a $180,000 annual salary from American taxpayers.
Nor did Stephen Bannon, a former top Trump White House aide who is now under indictment for fraud but who, out on bail as he awaits trial, has been broadcasting a daily radio show and podcast in which he repeatedly calls Biden an “illegitimate” president and falsely claims that the votes that were counted after election night are illegal.
Many of Bannon’s narratives have been echoed on pro-Trump media outlets, such as OAN and NewsMax, as well as Fox News’ prime-time evening shows. They even emerged in Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s arguments Tuesday before a federal judge in Pennsylvania.
One former White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Trump’s statements on social media are not taken seriously by Americans and that eventually his legal challenges will end and life will go on, in all likelihood with a Biden presidency.
“I think the country is fairly well-conditioned about Trump’s tweets,” the former official said. “Our institutions are not in danger because of this. Our republic will survive.”
While most Americans do appear to take Trump’s assertions with several, if not more, grains of salt, some of his hard-core supporters do not and have taken to harassing and threatening election officials in battleground states.
On Wednesday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, released a statement reporting threats to her family and her office, and called on Trump and others in Republican leadership to take responsibility.
“There are those, including the president, members of Congress and other elected officials, who are perpetuating misinformation and are encouraging others to distrust the election results in a manner that violates the oath of office they took,” she wrote. “It is well past time that they stop. Their words and actions have consequences.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, had previously reported death threats against him and his wife from Trump supporters. He also reported being pressured by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to discard mail ballots from areas of Georgia that favored Biden. He also said he was pressured directly by the Trump campaign earlier this year to help make sure Trump won the state.
Biden won Arizona by 10,400 votes and Georgia by 14,000. Trump has falsely claimed those results point to fraud, an accusation that has riled up his supporters in those states.
Jim Dicke, a Republican National Committee member from Ohio, nevertheless said he is not terribly worried that Trump will incite GOP voters into violence or anything of the sort when reality makes itself evident.
“Republicans will go home and get organized for 2022,” he said.