President Donald Trump sat down with ABC's David Muir on Wednesday for an hour-long interview. In the interview, he said many wild and crazy things. He said violence in Chicago was worse than Afghanistan. He said everyone should watch Fox News to understand how great his speech to the CIA was. He said he was going to be the most presidential president ever, except for Abraham Lincoln.
But the exchange Trump had about his extremely false, repeatedly debunked lie that there were millions of illegal votes cast against him in the 2016 election took the cake. It's an exchange you might think you would only ever hear from some deranged Reddit user or sidewalk ranter. But, no, it's coming from the president of the United States—a man who, if this report from the New York Times is to be believed, was partially convinced that something nefarious was going on because someone he knew may have seen some "Latin American" people voting who looked like they shouldn't be.
Please read the transcript of this exchange and try to pick your jaw up from the floor. Then join us at the bottom for some analysis.
TRUMP: You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They're registered in New York and in New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion.
MUIR: What you've presented so far has been debunked. It's been called false.
TRUMP: No it hasn't. Take a look at the Pew reports.
MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night, and he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Then why did he write the report?
MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? Then he's groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they want to write something that you want to hear, but not necessarily millions of people want to hear, or have to hear.
MUIR: So you've launched an investigation?
TRUMP: We're gonna launch an investigation to find out. And then the next time—and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of 'em come to me. None of 'em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of 'em come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered, dead, illegal, and in two states, in some cases, maybe three states, we have a lot to look into.
MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?
TRUMP: No, not at all. Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do.
MUIR: You don't think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn't come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn't vote for me. I don't believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn't vote, it would've been different in the popular.
Hi again! So, here's the thing: this is obviously all complete bunk, but it's dangerous bunk. It's not dangerous merely because the man saying it happens to now be the most powerful person in the world. It's dangerous because the battle against voter fraud—no matter how nonexistent it really is—has been the central justification for the wave of voter suppression laws being enacted across the country. Trump is definitely lying, but his lies could lead to yet another sustained attack on the right to vote in America.
Also, Trump's own daughter and closest adviser and probable Treasury Secretary were all found to have been registered to vote in two states. Presumably they will be thrown in jail, or whatever.