Even more amazing than President Donald Trump’s canard about millions of “illegal” votes is the bizarre fact that his complaint failed to immediately generate a serious inquiry.
What would seem to be a serious matter has been treated silently right up to Wednesday morning by those with power to investigate.
Think about this for a moment.
Here was the chief executive of the United States meeting members of Congress and telling them, according to those present, that between 3 million and 5 million “illegal” votes cost him the popular vote against Hillary Clinton.
If true, this would, of course, be a massive scandal.
We need to know. Such charges demand investigation — and not one that diverts attention from the enormity of his allegations.
Only after being widely mocked as a liar did Trump on Wednesday tweet that he's asking for a probe. He didn't say, however, that he would hand over all the birther-like "evidence" he presumably has to investigators in his employ about the millions and millions whose fraud worked only one way. And it may be telling that he seemed to direct attention to old questions about the voting system — rolls that don't get purged and lack of interstate coordination.
If his huge claims ever proved true, the scandal would be bigger than the Russian propaganda. Bigger than any Clinton Foundation influence-peddling. Bigger, and affecting more Americans, than Watergate or Teapot Dome.
Remarkably, however, Capitol Hill, run by the GOP, didn't respond on Tuesday. There's no sign that attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions will directly deal with the charge. There is still no hint that James Comey, who’s staying on as FBI director, will commit resources to the mission.
We heard the most empowered man on earth issue nothing less than a verbal indictment of democracy’s machinery. How can this not even get the attention from Congress a cranky customer expects when returning merchandise at a big-box store?
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) uses his position to announce and pursue some pretty hot, high-profile stuff.
Chaffetz made splashes with extensive Benghazi hearings and State Department emails. He’s famously and fearlessly grilled Comey in public about what he concluded and why.
Surely, of the two major parties, the GOP would have more to lose by letting a tremendous scandal like millions of illegal voters go unexplored. After all, the titular head of the party has now declared that this cost him a political mandate.
So one would think Chaffetz and his investigative aides and peers in the Senate would have set up a meeting by now where the president’s staff could expound on what they’ve found out.
They could ask what persuaded the president that this is true. They could ask which states carried out the alleged fakery. They could ask why even the most partisan of election officials on both sides nationwide gave no credence to the president’s claims about "millions."
They could ask how, in gathering these scam votes, the Democrats, or Clinton, or whoever, couldn’t seem to fake the 70,000 ballots needed to swing the Electoral College their way.
They could figure out the intrepid tale of how the Republicans held on to the Congress with all this terrible, deplorable fraud going on.
They could ask if Trump has, well, any evidence at all.
It’s as if empowered fellow Republicans see this claim as an embarrassment — something to be treated in Trump’s presence by looking at your shoes, the same way you’d ignore a crazy person shouting in a subway car.
They should take the president literally.
And if it turns out Trump is just fabricating it, maybe the probers could figure out why. They could call in psychologists, subpoena emails, maybe tap some phones, knock on doors, ask relatives what’s going on.
Then these serious representatives could write a report, revealing and explaining what they learned and getting to the bottom of it all.
Isn’t that what checks and balances and accountability are all about? Or is something missing?