As the financial and legal pressures now bear down on Trump—the hundreds of millions of dollars he owes, the tax and fraud investigations that are on their way—he will need a political base more than ever. Expect Trump and his children to portray any and every legitimate legal action against them as political persecution: “They are trying to get me because I oppose the fake president.” Expect them to continue to seek headlines, day after day, with out-of-control press conferences, carried live on Trump TV, streamed on Facebook, featured on the front page of the New York Post. The prospect of that kind of circus would be designed to put off some prosecutors: No one will want to be trolled by a million MAGAbots or become the focus of online or offline hate mobs.

Above all, though, the Biden illegitimacy myth will function as a prop for Trump’s own fragile ego. Unable to cope with the loss of the presidency, unable to accept that he was beaten, Trump will now shield himself from the reality of defeat by pretending it didn’t happen. His personal need to live in a perpetual fantasyland, a world where he is always winning, is so overpowering that he will do anything to maintain it. In his narcissistic drive to create this alternative reality, he will deepen divisions, spread paranoia, and render his supporters even more fearful of their fellow citizens and distrustful of their institutions. This is a president who never had America’s interests at heart. Do not expect loss to change him.