- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives have fueled efforts to delegitimize President-elect Donald Trump, pushing allegations of his complicity with Russian email hacks and boosting protests of the inauguration.

Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Clinton presidential campaign, has said there’s “too much evidence” that Mr. Trump was in league with Russian spies trying to rig the election.

Former Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri used Twitter to circulate maps of protest sites for Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

Neera Tanden, a policy adviser on Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, has made her anti-Trump stance part of her Twitter identity — changing her avatar to the word “Resist.”

The attempt to undermine the next president is in stark contrast to Mrs. Clinton’s imploring Mr. Trump during the campaign to respect election results. Back then, when she was considered the odds-on favorite to win the White House, Mrs. Clinton said that disputing election results was “a direct threat to our democracy.”

Still, efforts by defeated Democrats to delegitimize Republican presidents is not unprecedented.

For years, prominent Democrats such as Joseph R. Biden, then a senator from Delaware, and former President Jimmy Carter insisted Al Gore was the true winner of the disputed 2000 election that put George W. Bush in the White House.

The delegitimization of Mr. Bush persisted despite Mr. Gore’s concession speech after the Supreme Court stopped recounts that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered, leaving in place the state’s certification of Mr. Bush as the winner and effectively deciding the national outcome.

“Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College,” Mr. Gore said in the speech.

Mr. Bush’s first inauguration was protested by thousands of people. During the inaugural parade, his limousine was pelted by tennis balls and an egg thrown from the crowd lining Pennsylvania Avenue.

The opposition to Mr. Trump has been more intense, and the term “legitimate” — a loaded word meaning “the right to rule” and thus much stronger than disagreement about policies — is being tossed around by elected Democrats.

Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and civil rights hero, proclaimed Mr. Trump an illegitimate president in a TV interview this weekend, sparking a Twitter feud with the president-elect.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Democrat, added in a Twitter message that “anyone who attacks @repjohnlewis loses legitimacy in my eyes.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Russia’s apparent meddling amounts to the rigging of an election.

“If you remember during the campaign, it was Donald Trump who kept saying the electoral process was rigged,” she said. “Well, it was rigged.”

A push for “faithless electors” to change the outcome in the Electoral College vote and deny Mr. Trump the presidency was linked to Mrs. Clinton’s operatives.

At least 18 House Democrats are joining a boycott of the inauguration. Mr. Lewis will skip it for the first time since being elected to Congress in 1986.

Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton plan to attend the inauguration.

Mr. Fallon said in a Twitter post Sunday that Americans can’t trust Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s denial that the Trump team was in contact with Russia during the campaign.

“Sorry, but we cannot take their word for it on this. There is too much evidence suggesting otherwise,” he tweeted.

The allegation that Mr. Trump or his associates contacted the Russians during the campaign about email hacks aimed at hurting Mrs. Clinton were contained in a purported Russian spy dossier, which U.S. intelligence officials and news organizations have not authenticated.

The U.S. intelligence community does think Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government was behind email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that led to embarrassing email published by WikiLeaks.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether there had been any contact with Russia, Mr. Pence said, “Of course not.”

“Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?” he said. “This is all a distraction, and it’s all part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of this presidency. The American people see right through it.”

The alleged Russian connection has emerged as the chief weapon for Democrats trying to poke holes in Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Fallon said Friday that Mr. Trump’s response to the accusations demonstrated that he was “very insecure in his victory.”

“Every day there are new developments, new shoes dropping, so to speak, that call into question the legitimacy of his win,” he said on CNN.

Ms. Palmieri has used Twitter to foment distrust of Mr. Trump’s election victory.

“He finally admitted that Russia was behind the hacking. Now we need to know how/if his team coordinated w/ Russia & Wikileaks,” she tweeted.

She also took to Twitter to promote demonstrations at the inauguration, posting a link to a map to key protests on the news website Mic.

“Mic’s Storm the Swamp map will show you every key protest on Trump’s inaugural weekend,” Ms. Palmieri tweeted.

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