You will notice that for the most part, Trump’s Republican allies don’t quite affirm the substance of the lie — they don’t present any evidence to support allegations of wrongdoing, no real reason to believe that Joe Biden’s election was anything but fairly and honorably won. Instead they cite the widespread (and wrongheaded) belief in wrongdoing as justification to upend our democracy.

What a cute trick.

The reason so many Americans — particularly Republicans — believe the election was rigged is because Trump keeps lying to them and telling them the election was rigged. That so many people have swallowed the president’s falsehoods allows Hawley and Cruz to pose as defenders of the democratic ideal while simultaneously undercutting it. But it also has the effect of letting them magnify the lie and its potential consequences without doing anything so tawdry as lying themselves. It is a form of plausible deniability, a version of “just asking questions” that keeps untruths in play without taking responsibility for them.

This is wrong and shamefully cynical.