WASHINGTON (AP) – US President Donald Trump is trying to turn America’s free and fair elections into a tangle of disinformation, misleading legal claims and baseless attacks on the country’s pillars of democracy.
The resulting chaos and confusion are not a side effect of Trump’s strategy following his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Chaos and confusion are the strategy.
The president’s frenzy of attacks against the elections allows him to sow doubts and confusion among his most loyal followers, leaving the false impression that he is the victim of electoral fraud. That won’t keep him in office – Biden will assume the presidency on January 20 – but it could undermine the next president’s efforts to unite a divided country and give momentum to Trump’s next initiative, be it another campaign to return to office. White House in 2024 or a high-level media project.
“This is all about keeping his ego and his visibility,” said Judd Gregg, a former Republican governor and senator from New Hampshire. “He is raising a lot of money and he plans to use it.”
The effects of Trump’s strategy are already visible. A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed that 77% of Trump supporters said Biden’s victory was due to fraud, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
More than two weeks after the election, Trump’s attitude is both shocking and unsurprising. It represents an unprecedented attack against a democratic election of a president in office in the face of the majority silence of the Republican Party, which has avoided condemning him. But it is also a scenario that Trump had prepared for much of 2020, especially with his baseless accusations that voting by mail would be the subject of systematic fraud. That was not true before 2020 or in these elections.
“Your answer shouldn’t surprise anyone. He brought it forward well before the election and follows his pattern of declaring his victory, regardless of the facts, “said Tim Pawlenty, former Republican Governor of Minnesota.
In this case, there is no question about the facts.
Biden outscored Trump by a wide margin in key contested states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, won more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, and broke a record with nearly 80 million votes nationwide. Election officials at the federal and state levels have declared the elections free of widespread fraud, with some even describing the 2020 vote as the safest in US history.
Trump responded by shooting the messenger by removing Chris Krebs, the country’s chief electoral security officer, who has defended the integrity of the elections several times.
Credible statements by Krebs and state officials across the country have done nothing to dissuade Trump, who insists without proof that Democratic forces conspired to rig the election against him. He has refused to officially acknowledge Biden’s victory, preventing the president-elect from accessing all kinds of information, from national security to the government’s plans to distribute a vaccine against COVID-19, something that would occur mainly during Biden’s term. .
Meanwhile, the president and his allies have tried to advance their lawsuits in court. And prominent Republican lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said Trump must have room to use all available legal options. However, those options are fast being exhausted, as judges across the country dismiss one lawsuit after another.
Some Trump allies privately acknowledge that their goal is not to overturn Biden’s victory in court. And they see no workable way to persuade Republican-majority state legislatures to appoint voters to vote against the will of the voters, although some Trump advisers felt backed this week when two Michigan Republicans voted against it. certify Biden’s overwhelming victory in Wayne County. After a wave of public outrage, they rectified their position.
Rather than change the outcome of the election, Trump’s allies said the goal is to help keep the president’s most loyal supporters involved and motivated for any project he undertakes after leaving office, even if that means keeping the president people misinformed about the reality of what happened in the elections.
Trump has long enjoyed blurring the lines between truth and fiction, and exploiting the confusion that causes. If anything, his presidency has only reinforced those tendencies, given the way in which the Republican Party and related media have helped fuel his version of events, even when it is indisputably false.
That same dynamic has continued to reinforce Trump after the election. Several small conservative outlets have refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory, which has grown their audiences. And most Republican leaders have helped cover for Trump by avoiding acknowledging Biden’s triumph, even though many do so in private.
Republican lawmakers have their own strategy in place. The party majority in the Senate relies on two Georgia seats to be decided in the January runoff, and some Republican strategists believe keeping Trump’s base exasperated is crucial to winning there. They have raised the vote as a way to avenge Trump’s defeat in a “rigged” vote and to stop Biden with a conservative majority in the chamber.
Others interpret the party’s response as simply an effort to get through the final weeks of Trump’s term without stirring the waters, even if that means letting misinformation about the electoral process spread across the country.
“It’s tough, cynical politics,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist who supported Biden in the election. “They don’t think noise is an immediate threat, so they’re waiting for it to go away.”
In a harsh condemnation of his party, Murphy added: “The elephant is no longer the symbol of the Republican Party, and the hen has taken its place.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Julie Pace, the AP’s Washington bureau chief, has covered the White House and politics for The Associated Press since 207. She’s on Twitter as http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
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