Washington Watch: Size matters

Trump’s fellow Republicans aren’t buying his charges of massive voter fraud.

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks to reporters while signing executive orders at the White House on Tuesday. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump speaks to reporters while signing executive orders at the White House on Tuesday.
In the Trumpian world of alternative facts, it’s the size of the numbers that matters, not their accuracy.
Donald Trump says he’s worth $10 billion but can’t or won’t prove it. He claims to have had the largest inaugural audience in history but when the evidence was missing he went into a rage and accused the media, the Park Service and his political enemies, real and imagined, of lying.
Size matters to Trump. From the little things like the time in a Republican debate that he boasted about his penis size to his insistence that two million well-wishers filled the Mall to witness his inauguration. He’s also miffed that more people showed up the next day for anti-Trump rallies.
He personally phoned the acting head of the National Park Service to demand that the agency produce pictures showing more people turned out to see his ceremony than Barack Obama’s in 2009. When he couldn’t get the proof he demanded, Trump declared the truth was “a lie.”
Stung by Hillary Clinton getting nearly three million more votes than he did, Trump promptly declared they were cast by illegal immigrants and dead people, while all of his votes were strictly legit.
More than 70% of Jews who went to the polls November 8 voted for someone else. That might help explain why Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day message did not mention Jews or antisemitism.
He’s more than a sore winner. His attacks reveal his own doubts about the legitimacy of his election. Odd coming from someone who spent so many years trying to delegitimize Barack Obama’s election.
This is about more than an immature, thinskinned narcissist seeking ego gratification and persistently defining himself and his achievements in superlative terms.
What Trump fails to understand – I hope that’s all it is – is that his attacks serve to undermine confidence in the American electoral system and American democracy and tarnish America’s reputation as the leader of the free world.
Many feel Russia had the same objective when it hacked into Clinton’s and the Democratic National Committee’s emails and then released its findings through WikiLeaks. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the view of American intelligence agencies and others, sought to discredit American democracy and make it look no better than his own repressive country. And Trump was his useful idiot.
Trump can lie about the size of the crowds and even the weather on January 20, and conjure up millions of phantom and zombie voters, but it won’t change the facts.
Voter fraud was virtually non-existent in the 2016 election. That’s the conclusion of Republican and Democratic state election officials as well as independent watchdogs. Even Trump’s own lawyers agreed. “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake,” they said in their effort to block a recount demanded by Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate.
But that hasn’t deterred Trump from calling for a “major investigation” into voter fraud, and he’ll waste millions of tax dollars and then reject the conclusions because the facts won’t support what he wants to hear.
There is simply no evidence to support Trump’s claims of voter fraud. If he has any, he’s failed to produce it.
He likes to cite Pew research studies to back up his accusations but the authors debunked the claims. David Becker tweeted, “I’m aware of no Pew report, including the ones I wrote when I was there, which support any findings of voter fraud.” Prof. Brian Schaffner, author of another study cited by Trump, said, “It’s absurd that millions of people, millions of noncitizens, would have voted in 2016. It’s just – it’s just not even plausible.”
Trump’s charges are part of the larger GOP phony war based on unproven anecdotes, conspiracy theories, bigotry and just plain lies.
By undermining public faith in the electoral process Republicans hope to push through severe new restrictions on voting.
It’s done by limiting the numbers, locations, staffing and voting hours of polling places, demanding voter IDs and residency requirements that disproportionately affect black, elderly, poor, minority and other voters who are usually in the Democratic column.
It’s today’s version of literacy tests and poll taxes used for decades to keep racial minorities from voting in the South.
North Carolina’s voter ID law was enacted with “racially discriminatory intent,” ruled a federal court. Similar decisions were handed down in North Dakota, Kansas, Wisconsin and Texas. Nearly every one of the restrictive laws enacted throughout the country came from Republican governors or Republican legislatures.
Scant evidence has been found of voter fraud in 2016 but several interesting examples cropped up of people registered to vote in two different states. They are Trump’s youngest daughter, his son-in-law, his press secretary, his chief strategist and his nominee for secretary of the treasury. It is not illegal to be registered in two states as long is you only vote in one, and there’s no indication any of these people voted more than once.
And there’s no evidence of 3-5 million phantoms, illegal aliens and zombies who voted for Clinton despite Trump’s claims.
Trump’s fellow Republicans aren’t buying his charges of massive voter fraud.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said, “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Trump to “knock this off.” Ohio’s Republican secretary of state Jon Husted said Trump’s rigging claims were “irresponsible” and had “no justification.
Nonetheless, they’re happy to ride along if it means they can tighten voting regulations in the Congress and most in states because Republicans have the majorities needed to enact restrictive laws to fight a crime that doesn’t exist.
Size matters when it means majorities to pass laws keeping opposition voters away from the polls.