Trump supporters say overturning 2020 election is payback to Dems for Russia probe
But Democrats aren't responsible for the investigation of Russia's election interference -- Donald Trump's administration is.
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Donald Trump and many of his supporters continue to say that by not conceding the election, Trump is simply getting back at Democrats for something they started in 2016: Claiming his presidency was illegitimate because of Russian interference. I’ve heard this from Trump supporters who’ve called my SiriusXM show since the election, pushing talking points they are hearing on Fox News. According to CNN just yesterday:
Trump told an ally that he knows he lost, but that he is delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with the President's thinking told CNN on Thursday.
But this argument is simply a lie based on distortions of fact — and nothing out of the ordinary for Donald Trump.
First off, unlike now, no Democratic leaders denied Trump’s win in 2016. Hillary Clinton conceded the morning following election night, and talked about the “peaceful transfer of power” as being something sacred. It was a race much closer than 2020’s, coming down to little over 77,000 votes in three states to give Trump a win in the Electoral College while Trump lost the popular vote by three million votes. Joe Biden of course has now won by several hundred thousand votes in five states to win the Electoral College (several different ways), and has won nearly six million votes and counting in the popular vote (with millions of votes in California and New York yet to be counted).
In 2016 President Obama, as well as Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, accepted the outcome of the election and called Trump “President-elect” in public comments congratulating him. Obama of course invited Trump to the White House within in days and the official Trump transition began, with funds released and emails and offices provided.
None of that is happening now. Trump hasn’t conceded, doesn’t recognize Biden as president-elect and is blocking any funds or access for the Biden transition. Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are not only defending Trump’s challenging the election Biden won by five times more votes than Trump won the 2016 election; they’re standing by as Trump tramples on democracy, with McCarthy even defending Trump summoning the Michigan GOP leaders to the White House to try to get them to overturn the election in their state.
More than that, it was not Democrats who initiated an investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election and Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Though all the ties were there between Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and others — and though many in the media, many progressives activists and Democratic politicians pointed to them — it was the Trump administration itself that began and continued an investigation.
Robert Mueller, a Republican former FBI director, was appointed with Trump’s approval by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Republican — who was himself appointed by Trump in 2017. The investigation was launched to continue the investigation that fired FBI director James Comey, a Republican, had begun.
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” said Rosenstein.
Thus, it was the Trump administration itself that began —and continued, with a special counsel — the investigation of Russia’s interference into the 2016 election. However much Democrats supported it — and even as Trump eventually lashed out at it — Trump and Republicans in his administration are responsible for it, not Democrats.
During that entire time, beginning the day after the election, Democratic leaders acknowledged Trump was elected. Yes, Democrats believed Russia interfered in the election to help Trump by propagating disinformation — which the Mueller report itself concluded — and they continually criticized Trump for sucking up to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin throughout his presidency and refusing to acknowledge Russia interfered to help him in the 2016 election.
The issue of “collusion” can be denied until the cows come home, but members of Trump’s campaign and his advisors were undeniably working with Russian operatives while Trump denied, during his entire presidency, that any of this was true nor that Russia interfered at all on his behalf.
So, Democrats criticized Trump harshly — and rightly — throughout his presidency, including on Russia, but they acknowledged he was president, and that he was elected, immediately after the election.
Trump, on the other hand, is refusing to recognize that Biden won while brazenly trying to overturn the election by having ballots thrown own out in selected states or having his allies step in to try to do so. There is no comparing how Democrats “treated” Trump on Russia to what Trump is doing now to our democracy.