"Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud — a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power." — NYT 1/31/2021
Just out on Sunday night, this extensive New York Times reconstruct of Donald Trump's failed 77-day attempt to subvert American democracy, and overthrow the 2020 presidential election. That's quite the shared byline, too, a lot of reporting power.
Across those 77 days, the forces of disorder were summoned and directed by the departing president, who wielded the power derived from his near-infallible status among the party faithful in one final norm-defying act of a reality-denying presidency.
Throughout, he was enabled by influential Republicans motivated by ambition, fear or a misplaced belief that he would not go too far.
In the Senate, he got early room to maneuver from the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. As he sought the president's help in Georgia runoffs that could cost him his own grip on power, Mr. McConnell heeded misplaced assurances from White House aides like Jared Kushner that Mr. Trump would eventually accede to reality, people close to the senator told The Times. Mr. McConnell's later recognition of Mr. Biden's victory would not be enough to dissuade 14 Republican senators from joining the president's last-ditch bid to nullify millions of Americans' votes.
Likewise, during the campaign, Attorney General William P. Barr had echoed some of Mr. Trump's complaints of voter fraud. But privately the president was chafing at Mr. Barr's resistance to his more authoritarian impulses — including his idea to end birthright citizenship in a legally dubious pre-election executive order. And when Mr. Barr informed Mr. Trump in a tense Oval Office session that the Justice Department's fraud investigations had run dry, the president dismissed the department as derelict before finding other officials there who would view things his way.