Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, returns to the chamber as the Senate voted to consider hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

There’s nothing funny about the relentless way former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed fraud in his 2020 election loss, despite a mountain of evidence and court rulings to the contrary. But his claim this week about his supposed role in Sen. Susan Collins’ reelection almost had to make us chuckle. Almost. 

The idea that he “allowed” her to be reelected by not speaking out against her is absurd. He certainly has shown a desire to  place his own interests ahead of the will of the people expressed at the ballot box, but this is still a democracy. Trump doesn’t get to choose who wins and loses elections. He didn’t decide who Maine sent to the U.S. Senate in 2020, Maine people did.

If anything, rather than taking credit now, Trump should have been taking notes during the campaign. Collins won the 2020 statewide U.S. Senate election by 9 points. Trump lost Maine by 9 points. Even in the more conservative 2nd Congressional District, Collins significantly outperformed the former president. She won here by 24 points; Trump also carried the district, but by just 7 points.

“In 2020, Senator Collins became the only Senate candidate in the last 69 Senate races to win by splitting the ticket with the state’s presidential results — something she has done three times, the only sitting senator to do so,” Collins’ spokesperson Annie Clark said.

Also telling is what prompted Trump’s attack on Collins and her reelection in the first place. She took the extreme step of telling the New York Times that — wait for it — “no one should be afraid” of Trump’s influence. That apparently earned Trump’s ire and his outlandish claim that Collins “would have lost in a landslide” without him staying “silent and positive.”  

It continues to be telling, and alarming, that Trump is lashing out at fellow Republicans when they take what should be matter-of-fact positions, like defending the Constitution or acknowledging that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

Former Vice President Mike Pence had the gall to say that he “had no right to overturn the election.” Trump then insisted Pence was wrong, indicating again that he did in fact want the election overturned. Loyalists like Steve Bannon (who Trump pardoned while the former strategist was being prosecuted for fraud) accused Pence of being a “stone-cold coward” and “ratting out” Trump essentially for being able to read the Constitution and federal law.  

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota has the nerve to say, “The election was fair, as fair as we’ve seen. We simply did not win the election, as Republicans, for the presidency.” Trump responded in part by calling Rounds a “jerk” who he would never endorse again.

Trump has used words like “wacky” and “atrocious” to describe Collins. We’ll borrow those words for a moment.

It’s “wacky” to have a former president attack members of his own party for simply saying accurate things that don’t match his false narrative. And it’s “atrocious” that he continues to perpetuate that narrative about his election loss, while also trying to claim credit for those like Collins who did actually win.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...