Donald Trump's presidency provided a rich trove of examples for my annual review of the year's highlights in blame-shifting. The 2020 edition focuses on the question Trump has been trying to answer for nearly two months: Why did he lose the presidential election?
By Trump's account, it was not because voters preferred Joe Biden. Rather, Trump was denied a second term by a long list of malefactors who delivered a phony victory to Biden or ratified that outcome. These criminal conspirators and after-the-fact accessories included:
Dominion Voting Systems
The company allegedly produced fraud-facilitating election software that switched hundreds of thousands (or possibly "millions") of Trump votes to Biden votes. But according to a statement endorsed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."
Venezuela, Cuba and China
Sidney Powell, a lawyer who was part of the "elite strike force team" seeking to reverse Biden's victory, traces the purportedly rigged voting machines to deceased Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. The anti-Trump plot, she says, reflects "the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China in the interference with our elections."
George Soros and the Clinton Foundation
The chairman of Smartmatic, another company that figures in Trump's conspiracy theory even though its role in the 2020 election was limited to Los Angeles County, is "a close associate and business partner of George Soros, the biggest donor to the Democrat party," Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani darkly noted. "There are ties of the Dominion leadership to the Clinton Foundation and to other known politicians in this country," Powell said.
State Election Officials
According to Trump, Democratic election officials across the country resorted to manufacturing phony paper ballots after their initial, machine-based scheme fell short. Republican election officials, such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, either actively facilitated the fraud or willfully ignored it.
The "Fake News" Media
As the president sees it, all the journalists who reported that Biden won the election or questioned Trump's allegations of systematic fraud -- including employees of Trump-friendly outlets such as Fox News and the New York Post -- were part of the cover-up.
Trump thinks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and all the other Republican lawmakers who have conceded Biden's victory were too scared to "fight." He has even less regard for state leaders from his party, such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who have had the nerve to defend the integrity of their elections.
Attorney General William Barr
Barr drew Trump's ire by saying the Justice Department had not seen fraud massive enough to swing the election or "anything to substantiate" claims about rigged voting machines. "The 'Justice' Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation's history," Trump complained last week.
Nearly all of the 60 or so postelection lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, whether they alleged actual voting fraud or were limited to challenging election procedures, have been rejected by state or federal judges, including Trump appointees. The pro-Trump lawsuits filed by Powell after she was ejected from the campaign's legal team have not fared any better.
The Supreme Court
After the Court unanimously declined to hear two lawsuits challenging the election results in swing states, Trump said the justices -- including the three he picked -- "chickened out," revealing themselves as "totally incompetent and weak." Trump, who says he actually won by "a magnificent landslide," still claims he has "absolute PROOF" of "massive Election Fraud" that for some reason he has failed to produce in court.
The only person Trump has not blamed for his defeat is the one who apparently alienated enough voters to secure Biden's victory. The personal traits Trump has vividly displayed since the election -- vanity, dishonesty, irresponsibility and recklessness -- go a long way toward explaining why that happened.
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum.