On the third full day of Donald Trump’s attempt at a presidency, his press secretary insisted that “our intention is never to lie to you.” On the same day, Donald Trump intentionally lied to us. During his first official meeting with congressional leaders, the 45th president claimed that the reason he lost the national popular vote on November 8 was because 3 million to 5 million “illegals” cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Two days later, on the fifth full day of his presidency, Trump doubled down on his big lie, and turned it into a threat; tweeting on Wednesday morning that: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal…”
The news that Trump was again peddling “voter fraud” fantasies had headline writers struggling with the challenge posed by a prevaricating president.
“Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote,” declared the Washington Post topline.
USA Today went with “Trump Again Makes Debunked Claim: ‘Illegals’ Cost Me Popular Vote.”
“Trump talks replacing Obamacare, reiterates unsubstantiated voter fraud claims,” read the headline on CNN’s website.
The New York Times got it right: “Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers.”
It is vital to be clear about the fact that Trump is lying—intentionally, deliberately, and consistently—about so-called “illegal” voting.
There are two overarching reasons why clarity counts:
1. Claims about “illegal voting,” made by Trump and others, have been used as an excuse to enact laws that make it harder for Americans to vote in states across this country. Election observers have argued that voter-suppression measures played a significant role in giving Trump narrow wins in the handful of states that handed him an Electoral College victory and the presidency. “We have a president-elect who was elected literally with two thumbs and eight fingers on the scale in terms of depressed, suppressed votes in communities all across the country,” says NAACP President Cornell William Brooks.