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Trump's misbehavior is no laughing matter

In the twilight of his presidency, Donald Trump is confirming that he cares not a whit about the security of the nation, the health of its people or the importance of maintaining its democratic principles. He cares only about his own bloated self-image.

How else to explain why two weeks after the election, and long after it became clear he lost, Trump refuses to accept defeat? Apparently his ego is too large, his narcissism too unchecked, to allow it.

But the nation cannot afford to just laugh at him, this baby-Trump blimp incarnate crying because the voters did not give him his way. He is doing too much harm to be funny.

His retweeting of baseless conspiracy theories that the election was stolen, his throw spaghetti at the wall hoping some will stick approach to litigating the results, will leave tens of millions of Americans convinced that the election was stolen, even as courts dismiss the claims for lack of evidence. His actions erode trust in the most fundamental principle of this republic — self-governance.

Trump’s delays in beginning the transition process and his blocking President-elect Joe Biden from getting national security briefings invite foreign adversaries to try to exploit the confusion. Where this failure of the Trump administration to act responsibly is most acute is the delay in preparing to hand off management of the growing COVID-19 epidemic, including distribution of an eventual vaccine.

Not that the president is addressing the health crisis that grows severer by the day. Instead he ignores it, seemingly bored with the matter after seeding the virus across the nation with super-spreader campaign events and presiding over a White House where a cavalier approach led to numerous staff infections, including his.

The election was not all that close. Biden bested Trump by about 6 million in the popular vote, or 3.6%, and 306 to 232 in the electoral college, the mirror image of Trump’s 2016 victory. This means that Trump would have to file enough successful legal challenges to reverse the vote in at least three of the four states where the victory margin was 1% or less.

One after another, the legal challenges have been dismissed or withdrawn. Most dwell on technicalities that would not come close to reversing election results in any state, never mind three. Popular in pro-Trump conspiratorial circles is the claim that Dominion Voting Systems software was manipulated to delete millions of Trump votes or move them to Biden.

“Report: Dominion deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide. Data analysis finds 221,000 Pennsylvania votes switched from President Trump Biden. 941,000 Trump votes deleted,” Trump tweeted in spreading the conspiracy and attempting to legitimize it.

No evidence has been issued to support these claims.

None.

Last week a national coalition of election security officials described the general election as "the most secure in American history." The security group included representatives of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of State Election Directors.

"There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," the coalition concluded.

But what of the Russian “hoax,” respond Trump supporters. Didn’t the president’s critics use that to discredit Trump’s victory?

It was not a hoax. U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly confirmed that agents of Russia used social media in a manner to bolster support for Trump. There were no claims votes were manipulated.

Democrats did not deny Trump’s win. Hillary Clinton called Trump election night to congratulate him and, in a concession speech the next day, said, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

That same day, Defense Secretary Ash Carter gave the formal order for a peaceful transition of power. The next day President Obama met with President-elect Trump.

Elected Republican leaders, from bottom to top, should condemn Trump’s misbehavior and call for him to do the right thing by ending this charade. In a guest commentary that also runs on our opinion page today, state Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, expresses seeming offense at being asked by a Day reporter her opinion of Trump’s post-election stance.

“Isn’t it time to move on?” she writes.

It will be time to move on when Trump moves on. Until then, we make no apologies for standing up for democracy and asking others where they stand.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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