How to Crack Down on Election Deniers? Make Them Pay. Literally.

Late on election night 2020, after networks’ projections started showing him losing, Trump blurted out: “Frankly I did win this election.” He thus launched one of the most brazen and destructive con jobs in the history of American politics.

Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost cost him and his allies nothing. Yet as early as February 6, 2021, according to The Washington Post, election deniers had already cost all levels of government—are you ready for this?—an estimated $519 million. The costs included massive legal fees, enhanced security costs, repairs to the damaged Capitol, massing of National Guard troops, and more. The result, the Post reported, was that in just the first month after the insurrection, costs “have mounted daily as government agencies at all levels have been forced to devote public funds to respond to actions taken by Trump and his supporters.”

Some costs were borne by states. California alone had spent an estimated $19 million for its National Guard and State Troopers. At the federal level, as of January 5, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice reported spending almost $24 million investigating and prosecuting Trump and co-defendants—direct costs of Jack Smith’s special counsel team and related DOJ support. In response to proliferating security threats to Jack Smith and his colleagues, DOJ reported spending $4.4 million on protection of the special counsel team between April and September 2023. And because of appeals, costs of housing inmates, vast and necessary expenditures on new voting technology, lawyers to write revised election regulations, expert consultants to advise on improved vote counting and recounting procedures, and additional election personnel at all levels of government, these numbers are fractions of what 2020 election deniers will ultimately cost taxpayers.

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Kim browne

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