Donald Trump says millions voted illegally. That's dreadful. We must have another election now

This is our chance to stop the torrent of lies before it drowns us

David Usborne
New York
Wednesday 25 January 2017 00:27 GMT
Donald Trump believes 'millions voted illegally' says Sean Spicer

This torrent of fabrications from the new White House has to stop. We are at flood stage already and how long has it been? Not even a week? There must be something we can do before the banks of truth and decency rupture irreparably and drown the lot of us. Actually, there is.

President Donald Trump welcomed a group of congressional leaders to the White House on Monday night and stated that he only lost the popular vote in November to Hillary Clinton because hordes of undocumented residents had voted when they shouldn’t have. (Not for him, he evidently assumed.) Between three and five million cast ballots illegally, he contended.

That’s Donald being Donald, you might say. But his spokesman, Sean Spicer, a man who had already displayed an uncommon talent for delivering porkers with a smile, was later to stand before the press corps at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and double down on the claim. “He believes what he believes based on the information he was provided,” he said of the President.

You may have already heard that this is an assertion for which not a single scintilla of evidence has been presented. As one, election officials across the land, including in counties brimming with Trump fans, have said they saw no such thing going on. Mr Trump could sign one of those executive orders of his and launch an official investigation into what he is alleging. He has not.

So it is incumbent on us not to stand up and berate him for telling another great big fib, but rather to call him out. We must say, “Oh my heavens. What you’re saying must be true because you’re the president. We believe you, we do. And in that case, there is only one thing to be done. You must suspend your presidency at once and call for a re-run.”

This is serious. The claim he is making is a grave one. Five million people voted illegally? There must be another election. America, after all, likes to hold itself up as the beacon of democracy. If its most recent presidential vote was flawed to so grave a degree, clearly that is the only proper course.

It is also funny. Almost. And beyond satire.

Mr Trump seems so agitated by the fact of his having lost the popular vote – by nearly 3 million votes – because he is terrified of anyone who would use that to delegitimise the victory that the Electoral College delivered him. (Even that is ironic, given that his entire campaign was born of his efforts to delegitimise President Barack Obama by questioning his place of birth.)

Mr Trump appeared to reveal his paranoia when Congressman John Lewis dared to hint that his mandate as president might be a bit moth-eaten. That was before his inauguration. He lashed out at Lewis calling his record as a civil rights hero into question and suggesting his district in Georgia was a crime-ridden hell-hole. It is not.

But now with this illegal voting claim he is in fact delegitimising his victory. Yes, Mr Trump you are now delegitimising yourself. Do you not see that?

No so many years ago, we had great sport in the media lampooning Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, because he had once been caught strapping his dog to the roof of his car before a holiday drive to make room for his family and luggage inside. How quaint that seems now. Mr Trump straps the truth to the roof of his car and drives straight for the lowest bridge.

Sean Spicer in the White House press room
Sean Spicer in the White House press room (AP)

It’s hard, as always, to discern what is going on in this man’s mind. When is a lie actually a lie? When the offender knows it to be so? But is the new president instead a serial fantasist who actually manages to persuade himself that the untruths he utters are truths?

He won’t call a new election. That’s obvious. If he believes all those illegal aliens voted for Hillary what would there be to stop them doing so again? And if he is perfectly aware that he is telling a fib, then the outcome would be the same.

And of course there would also be the not inconsiderable risk that a new vote would yield a different outcome for a different reason. What’s American for regrexit? Buggertrumped?

But we can say we are ready to take him at his word. Either he calls for a election or he admits he is talking bull and learns we won’t take it any more.

Because if we don’t stop the torrent now, the lies will just keep coming. The unemployment rate will be said to be falling when it is rising. The factories will said to be re-opening when they are not. The sun will be said to be rising when it is setting. That is what he and his spokesman are capable of.

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