The Democratic Party’s Sore-Loser Theater

Michael Thielen Executive Director, Republican National Lawyers Association
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Former FBI Director James Comey begins testifying today and all of Washington and the media will be consumed by the details. But they’ll likely overlook why his testimony is so fascinating that has nothing to do with Russia.  Rather, it has to do with what then-front runner and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton found “horrifying” during the 2016 campaign: the suggestion that her opponent Donald Trump might not accept the election results. That’s right, back in October, Hillary said refusal to accept the election results would be “talking down our democracy.” She must have changed her mind because now she is leading the charge to resist and undermine the results of last November’s election.

It is now 7 months since President Trump was elected, and the mainstream media and the left still consider him illegitimate.  It starts with Hillary Clinton, who, according to the bestselling insider book on the Hillary Clinton for President campaign Shattered, had to be called by President Obama on election night and told to concede.  Shortly before that, at 2:00 AM on election night, campaign chairman John Podesta addressed the crowd of Hillary’s supporters gathered to celebrate her victory and refused to admit the race was over: “We’ll be back, we’ll have more to say, let’s get those votes counted and let’s bring this home.” President Obama no doubt was displeased with the reality, but even he understood that Trump had won and his successor was to be the Republican candidate.  (It is also worth noting that President Obama has vehemently denied Russian interference with the election results, on the record, multiple times.)

However, Hillary quickly stopped listening to President Obama.  Immediately after the results were in, with the endorsement of her campaign lawyer, the Clinton campaign condoned completely hopeless and costly recounts in an effort to cast doubt on the election.  One of the states targeted was Wisconsin.  She was not only unsuccessful, but following the recount, President Trump’s margin of victory there increased.

But Hillary is not done.  Last week she gave a speech in which she again blamed everyone but herself for her loss, adding up to well over 35 reasons for why she lost in November. None of these excuses has anything to do with her failure to connect with voters or her undesirable, unrealistic policy positions, of course.

But she did find one angle she could use with her radically liberal base: because President Trump actually gained votes in the recount, Hillary decided that this must be proof of voter suppression and she pivoted accordingly. As proof, she cited her number one ally in the effort to undermine the 2016 election results, the mainstream press.

She relied on a study that has been mindlessly parroted countless times, one that touts 200,000 people lacking valid ID to vote in Wisconsin.  She did not seem to mind that the story is based on a flawed and debunked study.   Even Democrat election law expert Rick Hasen wrote in a blog post cautioning relying on the study:  “The story is getting picked up by Democrats and left leaning smart people across social media, because it confirms what they already think. But there is reason for considerable caution about this study, which is at odds with what other studies of the effect of Wisconsin’s voter id has found.”  Or, put better by Yale Professor Eitan Hersh:  “[T]his is something that is going to be shared hundreds of times and does not meet acceptable evidence standards.”  Politifact similiarly rated the claim “mostly false.”

In Hillary’s effort to shift blame to anything and everything but her lack of appeal as a candidate and her promotion of failed Democrat policy proposals actually masks that she all but ignored the entire state of Wisconsin during her campaign, and she is now cynically using debunked, but widely reported, numbers to justify her failure to campaign and win there.

The good news is the study is so bad that it may help prove the opposite, as New York Times writer Nate Cohn notes: “At this point, the absence of good, file-based research showing a big voter ID effect might be telling.”  If there were real evidence that voter ID laws suppressed turnout, liberals and the media would not need to champion faulty numbers.  Yet the media, who arguably have some role in how elections are actually undermined, is going to continue to report that 200,000 people in Wisconsin had their vote suppressed based on a study that is so bad that if anything, it proves the opposite.  Undermining President Trump’s victory is all that matters.

The Wisconsin case is one example of bad “facts” being incessantly parroted to advance liberal causes, in this case via Hillary’s failed campaign, to advance anti-conservative policy, wearing here the mantle of the media’s anti-Trump narrative. But this is not the worst example.

More egregious are the recent allegations against President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner.  The Washington Post based its story alleging back channel communications between the Trump campaign and the Russians on an anonymous letter.  In other words, the story would not be credible enough for a high school newspaper to publish and violates journalism ethics in a number of ways, including requirements to identify sources, consider sources’ motives before publication, and “reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger.”  Fortunately the “resistance” movement has yet to figure out that all they need to do to have the Washington Post write an anti-Trump story is send an anonymous letter to the paper.

Another aspect of the Post’s exposé based on anonymous sourcing is even more astounding.  The Post had already published a story in February praising Kushner’s secret contacts with representatives of foreign governments, including Russia, as a key liaison in the Trump administration.  But apparently the Post, seeing its declining readership, decided it needed to capitalize on the anti-Trump/Russia frenzy gripping the media and chose to publish a scandalized version of a story it had already reported on and found innocuous.

If the Russian investigation and the Comey hearings were not happening, there is no doubt the media would focus on one of Hillary’s other cherry-picked and gratuitous reasons to undermine the results of the 2016 election she lost. Ideally, people would be moving on and focusing on policy issues facing the nation instead of trying to undermine the results of an election seven months ago.

As President Obama said: “Russia trying to influence our elections dates back to the Soviet Union. What they did here — hacking some emails and releasing them — is not a particularly fancy brand of espionage or propaganda. We were frankly more concerned in the run-up to the election to the possibilities of vote tampering, which we did not see evidence of and we’re confident we can guard against.”  Similarly, President Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, ““We saw efforts by Russian intelligence at scanning and probing voter registration databases . . . . I know of no such evidence that actual counts were altered by any type of cyberattack . . . and we saw no actual altering of voter counts.”

Even President Obama and prominent Democrats have put the issue to bed: President Trump won last November.  It is time for Hillary Clinton and her sycophant supporters in the media to do the same.

Michael Thielen is the executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association.