The process had been torturous enough as it was.
Election Day had many Americans on pins and needles, wondering if they’d be confronted by disgruntled activists or even violence at the polls. Afterward, we thought we could just hunker down, trust the process and wait impatiently for the results of the presidential election.
Then President Trump spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room on Thursday night.
"If you count the legal votes, I easily win," he began. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly. But a lot of votes came in late.”
He went on to rail against the process of mail-in voting, claiming with no evidence that Democrats were trying to commit “tremendous corruption and fraud” by using tainted ballots.
He claimed that Detroit and Philadelphia’s elections were corrupt — by virtue of the fact that they’re Detroit and Philadelphia. He claimed that neither city has allowed Republican poll observers, which local officials assert is false.
He railed on the failure of polling, claiming that opinion polling was “election interference, in the truest sense of that word. … They were suppression polls, everyone knows that now.”
Speaking of the states that hadn’t yet announced results, he claimed that "The voting apparatus of those states are run in all cases by Democrats" — though the secretaries of state in Georgia and Nevada — two of five states where a clear winner has not yet been determined — are Republican.
Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits over ballots in Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The suits in Michigan and Nevada were quickly dismissed by state courts. A state court judge in Pennsylvania affirmed on Wednesday that observers have a right to be within 6 feet of the ballot-counting operation, but a federal judge threw out a prospective lawsuit on Thursday in which Trump's campaign sought to halt vote counting in Philadelphia.
His whole 16-minute speech was paranoid and untethered from reality.
But don’t listen to us. Listen to Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican who called Trump's comments about corruption “dangerous” and “wrong.''
Listen to Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, who tweeted that the president's claims of fraud are “getting insane.” If Trump has “legit” concerns about fraud, they need to be based on evidence and taken to court, Kinzinger said, adding, “STOP Spreading debunked misinformation.”
Listen to Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, who said: “There is no defense for the president’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”
Trump’s lieutenants picked up his thread, with his son, Donald Jr., calling for “total war” and his former strategist, Steve Bannon, on his podcast, “War Room: Pandemic,” calling for Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray to be beheaded "as a warning to federal bureaucrats." (Bannon’s lawyers dropped him as a client on Friday.)
Such statements are incitements to violence.
Also, crowds of Trump supporters have gathered at vote-counting centers, some carrying weapons, demanding that the counting stop. Election officials stepped forward to affirm that their processes are going just as they should.
Some officials said they feared for their lives.
There have been voting irregularities — as there always are. We’ve heard none that aren’t easily explained.
But some don’t want to hear the explanations.
If Trump somehow ekes out a win, we can expect four more years of lies, paranoia, unhinged ranting and persecution of anyone who disagrees with him — including his own officials.
Should Trump lose, there’s a portion of the population that will never accept the outcome, despite the lack of any substantial evidence of corruption. They’ll take the belief that he was cheated to their graves.
But that’s the better option.
We understand that waiting for the results is nerve-wracking, even for Trump. But if it wasn’t clear before, his unhinged address, which invites disaster, should be indisputable proof that he is not qualified to lead the nation.
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