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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

True to form, the Trump crew falls back on far-fetched assertions of massive fraud

Election workers count ballots Thursday at a Maricopa

Election workers count ballots Thursday at a Maricopa County Elections Department office in Phoenix. Credit: Getty Images/Courtney Pedroza

Unfounded fraud assertions tend to be a default position for President Donald Trump and his chorus. Trump's best-known hoaxes consist of accusing others of hoaxes. Trust him to cry foul when his back is to the wall — or even when nothing is at stake — and have no evidence. This is a twisted form of reliability.

Trump's inflammatory performance before the news media on Thursday night, alleging election fraud, came off as almost predictable.

The president long has peddled the fantasy that people are voting after Election Day and getting those ballots to count. Trump never bothered to confess to the public why he said he was the victim of millions of illegal ballots in 2016 — his alibi for losing the popular vote four years ago. The "fraud commission" he appointed as president found not a hint of this.

By now, you might suspect his allegations are designed to cover for playing dirty. Trump adviser Roger Stone, a veteran of the Florida presidential intrigue 20 years ago, was convicted of charges including lying to investigators about the 2016 campaign but had his sentence commuted by Trump. Stone advertises himself as a dirty trickster.

Stone on Thursday, as state-by-state ballot counts continued, declared Trump the winner in a landslide. That's as surreal as when Trump called his 2016 win a record landslide; the numbers didn't support that boast.

Many in the president's fan base still parrot all canards on cue. Many more people might believe them, at least for a while, if not for Trump's repeated cries of wolf.

Rudy Giuliani, speaking as the president’s personal lawyer, is front-and-center again. Contriving hoax charges in swing state Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the ex-mayor asked rhetorically: "Do you think we’re stupid? Do you think we’re fools?"

Giuliani used to echo Trump’s moans that the Mueller probe into Russian election interference amounted to a rigged "witch hunt." At one point, in one of his angry TV exchanges during that probe, Giuliani blurted: "Truth isn't truth." That didn't boost anyone's credibility.

During the hacking scandal of the last presidential election, Trump allies pushed a fake story about a deceased Democratic staffer having leaked party messages. The goal was clear: to offer an alternative explanation for the roles of Russia and WikiLeaks.

Trump in February referred to Democratic allegations that his administration was failing to address the coronavirus as "their new hoax." But criticism of federal inaction proved valid. The president's own hoaxes on the topic soon multiplied. He issued repeated false assurances that the virus was on the verge of disappearing — and even that Democrats were "locking down" America to hinder economic recovery and make him look bad.

Official numbers keep putting the lie to his fraud assertions. Total U.S. deaths from COVID-19 to date have passed 233,000. Total votes for Joe Biden topped 70 million, a record. There is little Trump can do at this point to spin, fix or fudge these figures. In the end, hard facts will speak for themselves.

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