Outgoing President Donald Trump has so far adamantly refused to conclusively accept the reality of his resounding defeat in the recent presidential election. The Washington Post has released a new report detailing some of the behind-the-scenes chaos in the president’s orbit in days and weeks following Election Day, and some of the details truly seem staggering. According to one close adviser, Trump was behaving like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won.'” The Post summarizes that, according to insiders, Trump was “rageful and at times delirious in a torrent of private conversations.” Thankfully, however, elections in the United States aren’t decided by “mad” mutterings or “rageful… delirious” meltdowns.
Trump’s strategy for challenging his defeat has hinged on court fights and bombastic public pronouncements from a legal team including Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and a rotating cast of allies. The president’s allies have criss-crossed the country in their efforts, launching fights in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. According to the Post, on November 14, Ellis “startled aides by entering the campaign’s Arlington headquarters and instructing staffers that they must now listen to her and Giuliani.” This incident unfolded the day after Trump himself tweeted that Giuliani, Ellis, and others would lead his legal team. A senior administration official characterized Giuliani and Ellis’s subsequent actions as a “hostile takeover” of the remaining Trump campaign.
Trump and his allies have targeted leaders across the country in their unhinged fight to undo the president’s defeat. According to the Post, “some” of these leaders “accepted security details for protection from the threats they were receiving” after refusing to follow along with Trump’s wishes. This vitriol is the fruit of the president’s rhetoric and actions. He has to leave the White House next January, whether he likes the scenario or not — but in the meantime, he’s spreading dangerous mistrust of the electoral system among his most fervent followers.
Behind the scenes, the Post — basing their account on interviews with 32 people in the president’s orbit — characterized the post-Election Day White House as “paralyzed by the president’s fragile emotional state,” with “advisers nourishing his fables; expletive-laden feuds between factions of aides and advisers; and a pernicious blurring of truth and fantasy.” Trump’s claims about the election have hinged on outright lies, like the lie that Republican observers were systematically excluded from the ballot tabulation process.
Ultimately, “fantasy” might be an understatement — as the Post summarizes, Trump’s allies’ claims have included the allegation that “Democratic leaders rigged the vote in a number of majority-Black cities, and that voting machines were tampered with by communist forces in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan leader who died seven years ago.” According to one campaign official, Trump thought that a recent press conference at GOP headquarters at which his legal team pushed their nonsense made him “look like a joke.” Trump doesn’t seem to need particular assistance on that front.
On Election Night, after Fox News called Arizona for Biden, Trump “was yelling at everyone” and “told Jared to call [News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert] Murdoch,” according to a senior administration official speaking to the Post. Meanwhile, according to one ally, Trump “spent part of Thanksgiving calling advisers to ask if they believed he really had lost the election,” as if he thinks that if he can muster enough support, then his utter rejection of reality can suddenly become valid. It won’t. Read more at this link.