Trump expects 'the most corrupt election' in the US history in 2020

As Trump sees it, the 2020 cycle will be "the most corrupt election in the history of our country." It's led him to a dangerous assumption: anything goes.
Image: President Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020.
President Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

As Donald Trump falls further behind in his re-election bid, the president isn't getting depressed; he's getting a little hysterical. Take yesterday's event in Arizona, for example.

He ratcheted up his usual predictions of fraud in the November election, made without any supporting evidence, by suggesting that mail-in ballots -- which will be in more widespread use as Americans face limits on their movements because of the virus -- were "a disaster for our country." ... "This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country," the president said to the crowd, which booed at the mere mention of mailed ballots.

In modern American history, there's no parallel for a sitting president making such an overt effort to undermine public confidence in his own country's electoral system. The idea that the 2020 elections will be "the most corrupt" in U.S. history is based on literally nothing but the strange assumptions of a confused amateur, but Trump has no qualms about peddling nonsense to the public.

The larger concern, however, is what the president intends to do with this assumption.

Part of the Republican plan, obviously, is to fight tooth and nail to make it more difficult for Americans to cast ballots in the fall, even as the coronavirus threat lingers (and in many parts of the country, intensifies).

But the other part of the plan is, to borrow a Stephen Bannon line, to "flood the zone with s**t."

In his speech in Arizona, for example, Trump declared, "They went to the polls and voted during World War II; we can safely go to the polls and vote during COVID-19." If the war were a contagious virus, this might even make sense. (Soldiers stationed abroad voted by mail during the war; it did not lead to fraud.)

He also raised the prospect of roving bands of ballot-thieves targeting mailboxes and accosting mail carriers -- as if this were a serious possibility.

The president, aware of the fact that he wants to block a voting method he uses, went on to say, "Absentee ballots are fine. Like I live in the White House, and if I can't get to Florida, or you live wherever you live, and you can't." In reality, Trump voted by mail earlier this year despite driving by his Florida voting precinct.

Trump even claimed that after the 2016 elections, California "agreed" that "like 1 million or 1.5 million" illegal ballots were cast. That simply did not occur in reality.

I'm not in a position to say with any confidence whether the president actually believes any of the nonsense he's peddling, but it's likely he feels justified in lying: after all, as Trump sees it, his own re-election bid will unfold during "the most corrupt election in the history of our country."

Evidently, this bizarre belief has led the president to a dangerous assumption: anything goes.