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“This is not a case of fraud”

Hi. welcome to On politics, your daily guide to national politics. I am Lisa Lerer, your host.

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Fifteen days after President Trump lost the election, there is no indication that significant voter fraud took place.

That hasn’t stopped the president and his supporters from making all kinds of statements to the contrary. Over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of screaming, a deluge of legal filings and a lot of denial from Mr. Trump and his allies.

What hasn’t happened? Any real evidence that the election was unfairly decided.

The clearest that Mr. Trump’s effort is a security blanket and a prayer strategy is the difference between what Mr. Trump supporters say in the press and what they say in court, where to lie under oath is a crime.

On November 7, the day most of the media called for the race for Joe Biden, Rudy Giuliani stood outside a landscaping company in Philadelphia, making false claims about widespread election wrongdoing.

“This is a serious error in the process that would ensure that these ballots are not fraudulent,” he said. “It’s a fraud, an absolute fraud.”

Asked by a Pennsylvania federal judge on Tuesday, Giuliani made a different admission: “This is not a case of fraud,” he said.

Since polling day, the Trump campaign and its allies have launched more than 30 lawsuits aimed at stopping the certification of results or having the ballots rejected. None have gotten real legal traction, as lawyers shy away from suggestions that the election was stolen, admit under oath that there is no sign of fraud, and see their evidence dismissed as unreliable. A minor victory in Pennsylvania set aside a relatively small number of ballots that had not yet been counted – a victory of no consequence since Mr Biden had already won the state without them.

Law firms that initially agreed to represent the Trump campaign and the Republican Party have withdrawn from the litigation. Senior lawyer who took over in a Pennsylvania case, Marc Scaringi, said before taking the post that Mr. Trump’s legal effort “will not nullify this election.”

Even if Mr. Trump’s complaints had some merit (which, again, they don’t), they are unlikely to change the outcome of the election. A candidate losing by a tight margin – perhaps several hundred votes – might hope to be lucky in a recount.

This is not the situation facing Mr. Trump, who would need to reverse the result in at least three swing states to achieve 270 electoral votes. Even in this chain of fantasy events, he would have to overcome a deficit of at least 45,000 votes in the three closest states.

Of course, reality doesn’t stop Mr. Trump, whose Twitter feed is so filled with fantastic allegations that it’s starting to look like a canister of cigarettes, covered with warnings from the social media company that his statements are “contested”.

Even so, from states to chambers of Congress, most Republicans have refused to recognize Mr. Biden as the next president, fearing that Mr. Trump will elicit a backlash from the party base.

Spreading disinformation in the public domain clearly influences the way a significant portion of Americans view news. Watch the “debate” over wearing a mask, a scientifically proven way to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Yet just as virus deniers cannot wish for a pandemic, all of the political machinations of Mr. Trump and his supporters cannot change the outcome of the election.

Mr. Biden will be the next president. But how divided the country remains when he takes office will have a lot to do with Mr. Trump.

A significant minority of Americans believe Mr. Trump’s claims. A new poll released by Monmouth University on Wednesday found that 44% of Americans believe we don’t have enough information on the vote count to know who won the election. Almost a third believe Mr Biden only won because of voter fraud.

In Michigan on Tuesday, two Republican members of the Wayne County Prospecting Board initially refused to certify the county’s election results – a move that could have deprived hundreds of thousands of voters, including all Detroit voters – before retreating after an outcry from local voters. and officials.

Their effort was encouraged by a senior legal advisor from the Trump campaign.

We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We will try to answer them. Do you have a comment? We are all ears. Write to us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.


Now that the campaign is behind us, we asked our reporters for some final thoughts starting in 2020. Here’s Adam nagourney with a re-examination of a common hypothesis.

It became clear as early as the summer that this election was going to be defined by the coronavirus – and in particular how President Trump has responded to the pandemic. The explosion in Covid-19-related diagnoses and deaths was the daily backdrop for the competition. This limited the normal practices of a political campaign, from toned down party conventions to rallies Mr. Trump was forced to delay and downsize. And the president contracted the disease and spent three days in the hospital.

Mr. Trump and Republicans could long believe that without the coronavirus he may now be preparing for a second term. (OK, stipulated, some of them are preparing for a second term anyway, despite the loss of Mr. Trump.)

It may be true. But it also seems useful to consider that at the end of the day, even in defeat, Mr. Trump may have gained some support because of his handling of the virus. Yes, he played down his danger and spread, and poked fun at basic protective measures – wearing a mask and social distancing – with his tongue out and crowded gatherings. In doing so, he has defied scientists and public health experts and may very well have contributed to the spread of the virus. But it was clearly a refreshing message to his supporters, many of whom lived outside the urban areas that were first hit hard by the disease. His criticism of Mr Biden’s calls for a mask requirement has helped fuel what has long been powerful critical pressure from Democrats as elitists and controllers.

Mr. Trump has always been a showman, and he understands that there are few things Americans love more than the inspiring story of the comeback. When he was hospitalized with the virus, most analysts believed it would hurt him politically, not only by pulling him out of the election campaign, but also by demonstrating how dangerous his actions were. But if he had won, it could have been said that his path to victory began when he leapt out of his hospital room to greet the supporters at the door, and then when he returned to the White House during a triumphant ceremony: the helicopter disembarking on the White House lawn, climbing the steps to the portico, defying him tearing the mask from his face.

None of this is intended to suggest that his dismissive posture towards the coronavirus – a threat that explodes again as the country enters the colder months – was a political positive for his campaign. But it may not have been as clearly negative as many of us had assumed.


“The hardest thing I’ve done.”

North Carolina Election Law requires voters to be alive on Election Day. For example, a local returning officer blocked the ballot for his recently deceased mother.


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