NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news cenference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City. This is Trump's...
Spencer Platt

Trump slams the author of a report he hasn’t read, doesn’t understand

During his presidential candidacy, Donald Trump got caught in an ugly lie: the Republican falsely claimed to have seen “thousands” of American Muslims celebrating the night of the 9/11 attacks. When Serge Kovaleski, a reporter with a physical disability, noted the truth, Trump attacked him by mocking the journalist and his condition.

Pressed for some kind of defense for his bizarre behavior, Trump said his offensive imitation of Kovaleski was simply intended to show the reporter “groveling.” That didn’t make any sense – at no point did Kovaleski grovel towards anyone – which created an unfortunate situation in which Trump was caught lying about a lie.

Yesterday, Trump used “groveling” again in a way that suggests he simply doesn’t know what it means. The president talked to ABC News’ David Muir, who asked about Trump’s baseless claims about voter fraud, and the fact that all of Trump’s evidence has been discredited. It led to this amazing exchange:
TRUMP:. Take a look at the Pew reports.

MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?
When the reporter patiently tried to explain that the report in question found no evidence of fraud, Trump said the author of the report, David Becker, is “groveling again.”

I’ve completely run out of adjectives to describe this nonsense, but “insane” keeps coming to mind.

Let’s back up for a minute. During the campaign, Trump and his aides said a Pew Center report offered clear evidence of systemic fraud. As we discussed at the time, that’s bonkers.

Pew published this report in 2012 on errors and inefficiencies in the nation’s voter-registration system, which the research organization concluded is in need of a systemic upgrade. It did find, for example, that roughly 1.8 million deceased people were still on voter registration rolls nationwide and should be removed.

But that’s not evidence of fraud. Sometimes, Americans register to vote, then die, then remain on voter lists because the rolls aren’t updated as efficiently as they should be. The Pew Center didn’t point to any evidence of dead voters casting ballots, only dead people who haven’t been removed from the system.

In other words, Trump is clinging to a Pew report he didn’t actually review – the president isn’t much of a reader – that offers no proof to substantiate voter-fraud allegations. Literally, none.

Confronted with reality, the president has decided David Becker, the author of the report, is “groveling.” In English, to grovel is to act in an obsequious manner in order to obtain someone’s forgiveness or favor. I don’t think the president understands that.

That’s not what Becker’s doing. All he’s done is point to the evidence, consistently and dispassionately – just like Serge Kovaleski did.

It’s led to a dialog that has unfolded roughly like this:

Trump World: Becker’s report proves we’re right.

Becker: No, it doesn’t.

Trump World: Oh, it totally does. We haven’t read it, but we’re sure it says exactly what we want it to say.

Becker: No, it doesn’t.

Trump World: Look at Becker groveling!

I’ve heard more sophisticated arguments on playgrounds, from children, none of whom had access to nuclear weapons.


Donald Trump and Voter Fraud

Trump slams the author of a report he hasn't read, doesn't understand