One of the Greatest Cons of All Time
As of Monday, December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, it has been 32 days since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. During this time, the president’s team of lawyers and GOP attorneys are at least 1–34 in their quest to overturn the outcome of elections in battle-ground states.¹ (The lone win was in Pennsylvania, where a judge granted a motion to move up the voter ID deadline.) A recount in Wisconsin² and a second recount in Georgia confirmed Biden’s wins in those state.³ Nearly every state has certified its election results. Late last Friday, December 4, Nevada District Judge James Russell rejected the Republican Party’s attempt to overturn the results of his state’s election and declare Trump the winner. In his opinion, Russell wrote, “the contestant did not prove under any standard of proof” the many accusations made about the Biden-Harris campaign, including paying voters to cast ballots.⁴ Turns out that evidence is a requirement in Nevada courts. The same can be said for courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the Trump campaign lost bids late last Friday to overturn the results of those states’ elections.⁵
The outcome of the election is clear. A winner has been declared. It is over. Even so, the president has yet to concede. Many wonder why.
Might it be due to an unwillingness to accept defeat? A stubbornness to confront disappointment? Excessive pride? Egocentrism? A belief, despite any supporting evidence whatsoever, that the election was truly rigged? A need to keep his base intact and angry?
All are possible. Even so, there is a more likely explanation, one based on the president’s personality and one consistent with his business practices.
That explanation? Money. Piles of it.
Which, by the way, is what he is amassing. The latest tally of donations to the president since the election is upward of $207.5 million.⁶ It is unknown whether that amount includes the many Christmas gifts the campaign is selling (e.g., ties, ornaments, mugs). And, remember, the guy lost.
What we are witnessing firsthand is one of the great cons of all time. Perpetrated by the president of the United States. He is playing his own loyal supporters for fools.
Here’s how the con works:
- The president fails to concede and, instead, proclaims loudly and repeatedly that his win was ‘stolen’ because the election was rigged. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, his messages reach millions instantly, a key to the con.
- His hired legal cronies find their way onto television near-daily to promote and expand on the president’s insistence that the election was a fraud. Significant credit goes to Fox News, OAN and Rush Limbaugh. Television and radio coverage validates the president’s position, which is essential to the con.
- Nearly all Republican senators either support the president’s claim or remain silent, thus tacitly endorsing his wild assertions. In a poll released last Saturday, the Washington Post reported that of the 249 Republicans in the Senate and the House, only 25 said that Biden had won the election, with 2 stating that the president had been reelected. The remaining 222 chose not to answer.⁷ Whether intentionally or otherwise, there are 224 elected members of Congress abetting the president’s con. They know better than to get in the way of his money-making scam.
- That few have recognized Biden as the president-elect is vital, as it provides hope to his base. Hope of upending the election is a critical ingredient to the con, as is time. The longer Biden is unrecognized as the president-elect, the longer the life of the con, the greater the opportunity to reap its potentially massive rewards.
- One must be ready to act immediately should someone attempt to gum up the works. Attorney General William Barr nearly derailed it when he admitted that no evidence exists of widespread voter fraud. Needing to avoid the undoing of his magnificent con, the president categorically dismissed Barr’s claim and, in the process, demeaned Barr by suggesting that he will be fired, which seems likely. Problem solved, crisis averted. The money continues to roll in.
- Many lawsuits are filed, some promoting unhinged conspiracy theories. None are successful, as all lack what attorneys call ‘evidence.’ But all receive publicity, which is more important than court wins and is essential to the con.
- Supporters of the president receive a deluge of emails and texts daily — including me because of a donation made to the 2016 campaign by a ‘friend’ — each begging for donations to support the legal efforts to overturn the election. (On average, I receive between 10–20 texts and emails daily from the campaign.) Most read like the one I received last Friday:
Friend, the situation is dire but IT’S NOT OVER. If all Trump Patriots give $35 now Republicans win! This is our LAST CHANCE. We’ll 500% match.
- The emails are equally urgent and go beyond the texts. They claim that the money is needed for an ‘Election Defense Fund’ to help finance recounts and legal action to overturn the election. If you read the fine print — who does? — you would learn that the first 75 cents of every dollar donated goes to a new political action committee, Save America, that Trump established in mid-November. Funds in Save America can be used to finance Trump’s political activities, his staff and his travel. Translation: Trump can spend the Save America money just about any way he chooses, as the funds are essentially his. The other 25 cents of every donated dollar goes to the Republican National Committee. Only a donation in excess of $5,000 supports recount or legal activity.⁸ Thus, donors are being purposefully misled. Which, of course, is the con. But it gets better.
- The default mode for all donations is ‘monthly’ not ‘one time only.’ This is likely new information to the vast majority of his donors, as one would have to be quite attentive to notice. That every donation recurs monthly makes the con efficient and, frankly, quite clever. Why take only one payment when you can take one each and every month until time ends? A professional, highly-experienced con artist knows the value of automatically recurring payments.
- It is also difficult, if not impossible, to opt out of a donation and/or unsubscribe entirely. (I can attest to this.) Once in, always in. No wonder, then, that money continues to pour into Save America.
This is how an unsuccessful presidential candidate bilks his most loyal, most passionate supporters out of their hard-earned money. To the tune of over $200 million in little over a month. With no end in sight.
The president has figured out that there is money to be made by losing an election. This sounds familiar. Might it be a page taken from The Producers, in which Mel Brooks showed us that it is possible to make more money with a Broadway flop than with a hit? If so, the president should remember that one of those producers ended up in jail.
Say what you will about the president. He knows how to run a good con. And this, my friends, is a very good con.