How Trump drove the lie that the election was stolen, undermining voter trust in the outcome

Few anticipate that the mistrust and divisions will fade with the 45th president’s departure from the White House. One reason: The most ardent purveyors of unfounded accusations say they have no plans to back down.

“The fact is that President Trump was reelected by what will be known soon to be a landslide victory unparalleled in this country,” said L. Lin Wood, a Georgia lawyer and Trump ally who has filed unsuccessful lawsuits on the president’s behalf.

Wood said he spoke to the president in a phone call earlier this month, encouraging him not to concede in what he described as “a battle between good and evil.”

Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School and co-director of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, said that kind of rhetoric has emboldened some in the country to doubt the results merely because their preferred candidate lost.

“We’re entering a very dangerous phase where a sizable share of the population has no faith in the basic mechanics of the democracy,” Persily said. Millions of voters, he added, now see the fight over who should lead the country as a function of “the willingness to exert power as opposed to playing by fair rules of the game.”