Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty

Donald Trump has kicked off his time in the White House by watching cable news, pushing for a litany of ghoulish new policies, and lying profusely. One of his claims is that three to five million people voted illegally against him in the election in order to ensure that he lost the popular vote. Leaving aside the obvious fact that this is hogwash, it’s logically nonsensical for an illegal voting conspiracy to focus on the popular vote and ignore the vote that actually counts.

Advertisement

How did Trump become so convinced of this conspiracy? According to a doozy of a report from the New York Times, Trump hosted a dinner for members of Congress on Monday and reiterated his newfound zeal for sniffing out voter fraud. When a Democrat pushed back on this pursuit, Trump relayed a story told to him by pro golfer Bernhard Langer that helped cement his view that the election was tainted:

The three witnesses recall the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote.

Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.

The anecdote, the aides said, was greeted with silence, and Mr. Trump was prodded to change the subject by Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

The punchline, of course, is that Langer can’t vote in the United States. Additionally, a source in the report said that the anecdote wasn’t even originally about Langer, but Langer’s friend.

Advertisement

Just one problem: Mr. Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting, according to Mr. Langer’s daughter Christina.

“He is a citizen of Germany,” she said, when reached on her father’s cellphone. “He is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.”

But a senior White House staff member, who was not at the Monday reception but has heard Mr. Trump tell the story, said Mr. Langer saw Mr. Trump in Florida during the Thanksgiving break and told him the story of a friend of Mr. Langer’s who had been blocked from voting.

This is similar to last night, when he popped off a lie-riddled tweet about “carnage” in Chicago that he pulled straight from Fox News. Trump sees something which aligns with his worldview, and he seems to immediately accept it as fact without need for verification or counsel. A man who consumes his news through blatantly wrong memes and secondhand stories is steering the United States towards insane policy decisions because of them.

[New York Times]