Donald Trump established what’s alleged to have been an entirely fraudulent “university.” He has a hard-earned reputation for screwing over contractors and investors, a long history of hanging out with mobsters and has been named a defendant in 1,450 lawsuits. And yet he’s dubbed his opponent, who’s been subjected to dozens of investigations that all came up with bupkis, “Crooked Hillary.” No candidate in history has taken projection to such remarkable lengths.
But an even more impressive example of projection can be found in Trump’s constant claims that this election is being “rigged” for Hillary Clinton. There do seem to be a lot of actors trying to manipulate the outcome – or at least having that effect – but they’re all lined up behind the guy who won’t stop whining about election-rigging.
It’s unclear whether WikiLeaks is actually in cahoots with the Russian government. But Reuters reported this week that U.S. intelligence officials are investigating “a campaign they believe is backed by the Russian government to undermine the credibility of the U.S. presidential election.”
Meanwhile, a small town in Macedonia called Veles has become a “global hub for pro-Trump misinformation,” according to BuzzFeed. The village of 45,000 people hosts 100 websites that spew Facebook-shareable nonsense about the election – and Hillary Clinton’s many “crimes.”
Julian Assange says his motives are anything but partisan, but the timing, selection and presentation of the emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account leave little doubt that their intent is to sway the outcome. (If there were any lingering doubts, WikiLeaks’ habit of tweeting out fake stories about Clinton plucked from the wingnuttosphere should dispel them.)
The emails have revealed only that politics is a rough-and-tumble business, and people working campaigns talk a lot of shit in private. But they appear damning to anyone who has never worked on a campaign, especially when the emails are stripped of context and spun to seem dark and sinister. Regardless, they clearly divide the Democratic coalition, and dribbling them out on a daily basis for the final weeks of the campaign is as clear an example of trying to rig an election as you’ll find.
Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman reports for The Guardian that “deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI … spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.”
Regardless of FBI Director James Comey’s intent, it’s clear that his oddly vague letter to Congress about some emails found on a computer shared by disgraced perv Anthony Weiner and Clinton aide Huma Abedin – emails that nobody had even looked at – violated established protocols and threw a monkey-wrench into the election in the final days before the vote.
That was followed by various leaks about a long-stalled investigation into the Clinton Foundation that was reportedly fueled at least in part by the book Clinton Cash, which may be popular with the credulous seniors who watch Fox News but should nonetheless be relegated to the fiction aisle. “The FBI is Trumpland,” one current agent told Ackerman.
And it’s important to remember that the entire nontroversy over Clinton’s emails began when Congressional Republicans’ failed to come up with any evidence that the Benghazi attacks were the result of wrongdoing by the administration, despite spending millions of tax dollars on a dozen investigations.
Matt Yglesias defined the “Prime Directive” of Clinton scandals like this: “We know the Clintons are guilty; the only question is what are they guilty of and when will we find the evidence?” None of Clinton’s emails was marked classified at the time. More to the point, classified info is only supposed to be sent over special secure channels; there’s no difference between sending it through a private email account or a state.gov email address. And if using a private server was a way to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests, it was a poor strategy. We know this because her mails were successfully FOIA’d and are available online.
Trump constantly whines about the media being biased against him. But he’s not talking about bias, which is an entirely subconscious process. He’s offering a goofy conspiracy theory that mainstream media outlets purposefully manipulate their coverage to give the election to Clinton.
Most reporters and editors would personally prefer Clinton over Trump. They’re mostly college-educated people who live in big coastal cities, and he’s spent months bullying and threatening them. But their subconscious biases clearly favor Trump.
Bias is elevating a process story about emails to the same level as a candidate bragging about sexual assault, and a dozen women coming forward to say it wasn’t just idle “locker-room talk.” It’s the networks devoting three times as much airtime to Clinton’s emails than all of the issues at stake in this election combined. It’s the fact that the media have spent the final week of an incredibly important election talking about some emails that we know nothing about, other than Hillary Clinton didn’t send or receive them. Why is that even news?
The proof is in the pudding: PolitiFact looked at 500 claims made by Clinton and Trump, and rated 51 percent of Trump’s claims either “false” or “pants on fire,” whereas only 13 percent of Clinton’s statements earned those ratings. And yet, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week found Trump leading Clinton on who is “honest and trustworthy” by eight percentage points.
Meanwhile, red-state legislators are working hard to suppress the Democratic vote. You want an under-reported email scandal? According to a Reuters report, private emails show Republican officials in North Carolina “lobbied members of at least 17 county election boards to keep early-voting sites open for shorter hours on weekends and in evenings – times that usually see disproportionately high turnout by Democratic voters. … The officials also urged county election boards to open fewer sites for residents to cast ballots during early.” One Republican official recalled what happened when he balked at the plan: “I became a villain … I got accused of being a traitor and everything else by the Republican Party.”
The same thing’s been happening in Florida, Ohio and elsewhere. Hell, election officials in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, tried to move a polling place in a black community to a sheriff’s office. Real subtle, guys. And if we really want to talk about rigged elections, all of this was made possible, or at least much easier, by the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, a long-standing goal of a chief justice appointed by a president who won a half-million fewer votes than his opponent in 2000. Unsurprisingly, early voting in black communities has been sluggish this year, compared with earlier cycles.
In the pursuit of a highly dubious “voter fraud” case in Indiana, a state headed by Trump running mate Mike Pence, state police seized 40,000 mostly African-American registrations from a grassroots group working to get out the vote. Nobody can say for sure how this unorthodox bit of policing will affect those voters’ ability to cast their ballots.
Meanwhile, restrictive voter-ID have been popping up around the country, despite the fact that in-person voter fraud isn’t really a thing. In the most comprehensive study of the impact of these laws to date, researchers at UC San Diego found that they depress Democratic turnout by 8.8 percent, while Republican turnout only drops by 3.6 percent.
And if that weren’t enough, notorious ratfucker and “informal Trump adviser” Roger Stone and pro-Trump groups say they’re going to send a bunch of white goons out to “monitor the polls” in primarily minority districts. (Best of luck to any Alt-Right goober who actually goes to the “ghettos” of Philadelphia to hand out “40s and weed” to local residents.)
The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate who’d really struggle against a conventional Republican opponent. There’s some truth in this, and the Clintons were no doubt wise to sacrifice some cows on Eid al-Adha to get Trump nominated.
But if Clinton wins on Tuesday, she will have overcome not only a quarter-century of scandal-mongering and thousands of years of deeply embedded sexism, but also a shit-ton of efforts to tilt the playing field toward her toxic opponent.
Watch the racism behind Trump’s “rigged election” talk.