Trump’s Jan 6 arguments dubbed ‘the Costanza defence’ after ‘Seinfeld’ joke
Donald Trump has been accused of using the “Constanza Defence,” a reference to an episode of the classic sitcom Seinfeld, to justify his false claims about the 2020 presidential election.
In a Tuesday episode of MSNBC’s The Beat, host Ari Melber said the former president seemed to be copying a line of logic from Seinfeld character George Constanza, who says in one episode, “Remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
The MSNBC host claimed Mr Trump was doing the same thing, pressing on with baseless claims about the election even though recently uncovered evidence in the 6 January hearings in Congress suggests the former president was warned numerous times he was wrong and his plans to overturn the election were illegal.
“The evidence shows he was not actually deluded on this point,” Mr Melber said. “He was very much, they say, an informed coup plotter, not some bumbling unemployed goofball bs-ing in a coffee shop.”
The last few days of hearings in Congress have shown the numerous warnings Mr Trump got that his election ideas were way off base.
Former attorney general Bill Barr told the committee, in pre-taped testimony, that he informed the president his ideas about the election were “idiotic” and “complete nonsense”.
“I told him that the stuff that his people were shovelling out to the public was bulls*** – I mean that the claims of fraud were bulls***,” Mr Barr said.
White House attorneys described how Donald Trump’s plan to have his vice-president overturn the election result anyway was “completely crazy”, while Mike Pence himself alerted the president “many times” this would be illegal.
Mr Trump has since said that Mr Pence was actually onboard with the plan to overturn the election result during vote-counting in the Senate, but the former vice-president’s team has said this is “categorically untrue“.
Despite all this evidence, the former president has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and that the January 6 committee is a political stunt to stop him from running for president again.
Mr Trump lashed out at the “pitiful” 6 January Capitol riot investigation on Monday, after the congressional committee held a day of scathing testimony accusing the former president of lying to supporters and losing touch with reality as he tried to overturn the 2020 election.
“The January 6th Unselect Committee is disgracing everything we hold sacred about our Constitution. If they had any real evidence, they’d hold real hearings with equal representation,” Mr Trump wrote in a lengthy statement on Monday. “They don’t, so they use the illegally-constituted committee to put on a smoke and mirrors show for the American people, in a pitiful last-ditch effort to deceive the American public…again.”
The missive concluded ambiguously, with Mr Trump seeming to tease a 2024 presidential comeback run.
“This is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins, from running again for the Presidency,” Mr Trump wrote, before blaming Democrats for inflation and high gas prices.
Elsewhere in the 12-page message, Mr Trump cites debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election from the recent documentary 2,000 Mules, by conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza.
The film, which has been repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers, claims that numerous people were illegally paid in highly contested states like Georgia and Arizona to collect and fraudulently deposit Democratic votes.
The documentary does not have any concrete proof that this actually occurred, beside a single unnamed whistleblower from Arizona claiming she saw what she “assumed” were payoffs taking place.
The film also makes specious use of cellphone geolocation data, which it claims shows ballot “mules” returning again and again to ballot drop locations.
Experts say such cell tower data is imprecise, and that there are many reasons why someone in a dense metro area like Atlanta or Philadelphia might pass by a ballot drop location for reasons totally unrelated to an election.
A spokesperson for Mr Trump said his election fraud claims and those of the film were valid.
“The Fake News media repeatedly calling hard evidence of election fraud ‘debunked’ doesn’t make it so,” Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington told The Independent. “Nothing in 2,000 Mules has been refuted.”