President Donald Trump is by no means the first politician to play hardball during a presidential election. Over the years, hardball campaigning has included President Lyndon B. Johnson’s infamous “daisy ad” of 1964 and the Swift Boast Veterans ads that President George W. Bush used against Democrat John Kerry 40 years later. But many of Trump’s critics have been warning that his tactics go way beyond the usual negative campaigning — that he is quite capable of finding ways to steal the election.
Liberal opinion writer Greg Sargent, this week in his Washington Post column, lays out seven ways in which Trump and his allies are making an effort to corrupt the electoral process.
"Trump isn't trying to win," Sargent said on Twitter. "He's trying to get within cheating distance. Many top officials are placing their official duties and the levers of government at the disposal of his effort to hold power while losing the popular vote."
The first that Sargent cites is “rushing coronavirus treatments.” This could prove dangerous, as a vaccine for COVID-19 or any other disease needs to be thoroughly tested before it becomes widely available. In a similar vein, he points out that Trump is “interfering in public health messaging” by pushing a rosy picture of the pandemic that doesn't reflect reality.
But it doesn't stop at messing with the government's coronavirus response.
“A Department of Homeland Security whistleblower has revealed that top officials pressed for findings about civil unrest to be revised to downplay white supremacist violence and pump up the illusion of an organized leftist domestic terror threat,” Sargent notes. Trump is also “limiting disclosure of knowledge of Russian sabotage," he argues.
If the Kremlin tries to interfere in this year’s presidential election just as it interfered in the 2016 election, Sargent warns, Trump and Attorney General William Barr will try to give the impression that the Kremlin’s hands are perfectly clean.
Sargent also observes that Barr is furthering Trump's attempts to undermine faith in the election by “cranking out false public statements to discredit vote-by-mail, whether it’s falsely claiming it’s vulnerable to a massive foreign-engineered conspiracy or blatantly misrepresenting actual domestic cases of fraud."