Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He claimed, through his press secretary, that he truly believes 3 to 5 million votes in the 2016 election were cast illegally--apparently all for Hillary Clinton.

In a meeting with congressional leaders last night, Trump repeated his claim that at least 3 million votes were cast illegally for Hillary Clinton. (Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes.) 

Sean Spicer confirmed today that Trump says he genuinely believes this, "based on the information he's provided [with]." Spicer refused to say where Trump is getting his information, referring only in passing to a Pew report from 2012 on an unrelated topic. It seems likely that Trump got the original 3 million number from an unsourced article on InfoWars, a conspiracy site that also claims the Sandy Hook school massacre was faked.

Spicer also refused to commit the Trump administration to investigating the supposed millions of crimes. Election officials from both parties at every level of government have called illegal voting incredibly rare. Voter impersonation, which Trump is describing, is estimated to occur in about 1 of every 15 million votes. Lesser voting-related crimes that do not affect vote totals are somewhat more common.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • There is a point at which a need for affirmation becomes pathological.
  • A president who desperately needs to believe in a falsehood can be manipulated by those willing to humor him.