Saturday, July 1, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He suggested that at least 29 of the 50 states are hiding something.

Earlier this week, Trump's "Commission on Election Integrity" requested that states provide it with "the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, [and] voter history from 2006 onward." 

At least 29 states, from all over the political spectrum, had refused to comply as of Saturday evening. California's secretary of state refused on the grounds that the commission had already falsely concluded that voter fraud was happening on a massive scale and was simply trying to manufacture evidence. The secretary of state for arch-conservative Mississippi called it a violation of states' rights and invited the commission to "go jump in the Gulf of Mexico." Even the author of the letter, Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, partially refused his own request.

For Trump, however, the matter is not so easily dropped. The commission was formed to find evidence for Trump's totally unsubstantiated claim that three to five million illegal ballots were cast in the presidential election. Conveniently, that is enough to explain away Hillary Clinton's 2.9 million-vote margin of victory in the popular vote, a subject of enormous sensitivity for Trump. That may explain the conspiratorial tweet he started the day with: "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?"

UPDATE, 7/4: The number of states refusing to fully comply is now at 44.

So what?

  • It's hard to come up with words for how absurd it is for a President of the United States to be accusing most of those states of some kind of conspiracy against him.
  • The alternative, that Trump is spinning conspiracy theories he knows are absurd to explain away a lack of evidence for his popular vote claim, isn't much better.