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President Donald Trump and his team of lawyers and spokespeople are asking you to believe that the states he won and the votes he received in the Nov. 3 election are legitimate, but that basically everything else is untrustworthy. They’re asking you to believe that the Bangor Daily News’ election partner, Decision Desk HQ, is able to call the state of North Carolina for Trump but cannot be trusted when it accurately shows Joe Biden securing enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so consequential.
The wildest unproven claims made at a press conference convened by the Trump legal team last Thursday may have come from attorney Sidney Powell, who suggested — without providing actual evidence — that there is some plot among world leaders ( dead and alive), election machine and software companies and potentially all U.S. politicians to rig elections.
The Trump campaign legal team has since tried to distance itself from Powell, but it’s not as if her approach of lobbying incendiary accusations into the public domain without actual evidence to support them is divergent from what Trump has been doing since before election day.
We don’t begrudge anyone who wants to make sure U.S. elections are secure, fair and accessible to all legal voters. That should be everyone’s goal, and there is much work to be done. We think the rest of the country should take a close look at Maine’s combined use of measures like paper ballots, no-excuse absentee voting, and same day registration. The results: secure elections with relatively high voter turnout.
But that’s not the conversation Trump’s lawyers (and former lawyers, apparently) are trying to have. They want to indict the entire electoral process in America without providing hard evidence. What happened to the burden of proof? When that fundamental principle benefits Trump, he and his team are all for it. When it’s in his way, it seems to become an afterthought.
Americans shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in court and under professional obligations to the truth, Trump lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, have walked back from some of the fraud allegations being launched in public. That is very telling.
Powell’s unsupported suggestion that U.S.politicians of both parties could be paying to rig their elections didn’t sit well with Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who was just reelected. And it shouldn’t sit well with anyone.
“You know, I have fought for my country,” Ernst said in response on Fox News Radio. “I’ve worn our nation’s uniform to protect the values and freedoms that our nation espouses and to have that accusation just offhandedly thrown out there just to confuse our voters across the United States, I think that is absolutely wrong.”
It’s not just wrong. It’s desperate. Trump’s lawyers have been trafficking in unproven — and in many cases, disproven — allegations and theatrics and trying to pass them off as evidence. This approach may be effective in swaying members of the public, with an alarming 70 percent of Republicans reportedly thinking the election was not free and fair, but it hasn’t had much luck in court.
U.S District Court Judge Matthew Brann, for example, had strong words in his Nov. 21 ruling against the Trump campaign’s attempt to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania.
“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens. ” Brann wrote. “That has not happened.”
At other points in his ruling, Brann compared a claim from Trump’s lawyers to Frankenstein’s monster, and said their attempt to discredit large amounts of votes solely in the presidential race “is simply not how the Constitution works.”
Last Thursday, Giuliani claimed that “big media” is ignoring and censoring the truth. That’s awfully rich coming from the lawyer for a president who recently fired Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Chris Krebs for telling the truth about the integrity of our elections.
“The last line of defense in election security is you, the American voter. So be prepared for efforts that call into question the legitimacy of the election,” Krebs said ahead of Nov. 3 in a video on CISA’s rumor control web page, which debunks various election-related rumors including some amplified by Trump. “I’m confident that American voters are going to decide the 2020 election, and you should be too.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has doubled as a Trump campaign advisor, recently called various states’ COVID-19 Thanksgiving restrictions “Orwellian.” She may want to look closer to home. It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to guess what George Orwell would have thought about a sitting president echoing an incorrect report about supposedly dead Georgia voters like Deborah Jean Christiansen, who as it turned out, is still very much alive.
We are a nation of laws, and Trump has a right to pursue legal challenges. But the court process thus far has not proven him right — far from it.
As he continues to claim systemic election fraud without proving it, Trump is essentially asking you to reject the mounting evidence of your eyes and ears. It looks and sounds pretty Orwellian to us.