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Why Trump's latest 'illegitimate election' nonsense matters

There's a difference between Trump's exasperating nonsense and lies that put Americans at risk. His latest statement falls into the latter category.
Image: Donald Trump waves as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House.
Al Drago / Getty Images

For those concerned with U.S. national security, several recent intelligence reports have been sobering. The Department of Homeland Security, for example, issued a terrorism bulletin a couple of months ago, warning about violent extremists being motivated by "perceived grievances fueled by false narratives" -- an apparent reference to Donald Trump's anti-election rhetoric.

Last week, an assessment from the U.S. intelligence community went considerably further, alerting the public to the fact that "narratives of fraud" in the 2020 presidential election, among other things, "will almost certainly spur some [domestic violence extremists] to try to engage in violence this year."

It was against this backdrop that the former president issued his latest written statement over the weekend, which read in part:

"Sadly the Election was Rigged, and without even going into detail, of which there is much, totally game changing. Democrats could not get Republican Legislatures in Swing States to approve many of the voting changes which took place before the Election, which is mandated under the Constitution of the United States. For that reason alone, we had an Illegitimate Election. The Supreme Court and other Courts were afraid to rule, they were 'gutless,' and will go down in history as such."

To be sure, the way in which this was written is distracting. Trump, who appears to have had a direct hand in crafting the statement, can't shake his idiosyncratic approach to capitalization, quotation marks, and other elements of grammar.

More important, of course, was the Republican's brazenness toward electoral reality. Note, for example, that the former president claims to be aware of "totally game changing" details on the corruption of the 2020 election, though Trump isn't "going into" it.

In other words, Trump could prove his hopelessly bonkers conspiracy theories regarding his election defeat, and he could share his "totally game changing" evidence, but he's choosing not to.

Sure, big guy, whatever you say.

But it's the larger context that's most alarming. It was literally last week when the U.S. intelligence community warned Americans that "narratives of fraud" will "almost certainly" lead some domestic violence extremists to "try to engage in violence" -- not on some far-away horizon, but in 2021.

As the public came to terms with this assessment, Donald Trump decided it would be a good time to issue another public statement, in service of his Big Lie, falsely insisting that the election was both "rigged" and "illegitimate."

There's a difference between Trump's exasperating nonsense and lies that put Americans at risk. Statements like the one issued by the former president over the weekend fall into the latter category.