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Alternative fact of the week: The bus stops here

Week Four turned out to be a rough one for President Donald Trump and his staff. From the resignation of a national security adviser to the withdrawal of a cabinet nominee — not to mention the real possibility that Mike Flynn's interactions with the Russian ambassador may prove to be just the start of a major, if slowly unraveling and perhaps broadening, scandal that appears headed toward a major congressional investigation. So naturally, much of The Donald's ire was directed at the press and the intelligence community for daring to disclose that there was a not-so-secret effort to play footsie with Vladimir Putin over economic sanctions imposed after the taking of Crimea.

Under such a dark cloud, one looks for a any ray of sunlight available, and the new Alternative Fact of The Week might just provide that glimmer. It was so egregious that fact-checking proved a swift, sure and even bipartisan affair with a Republican state attorney general and a Federal Elections Commissioner appointed by George W. Bush joining elected Democrats in immediately denouncing it. We speak, of course, of the claim that Mr. Trump would have won New Hampshire if not for thousands of people who were bused in from Massachusetts to vote illegally.

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That outrageous prevarication made national headlines when it was privately articulated by President Trump to a group of U.S. senators. But the whopper surely didn't reach its full zenith of bunkum until it was verbalized on national television by the inimitable Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old "senior" adviser to President Trump, last Sunday by way of ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. "I have actually, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who's worked in New Hampshire politics," Mr. Miller averred. "It's very real. It's very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence."

Well, of course, it isn't the moment to lay out the evidence. There isn't any. It's all completely bogus — an urban myth on par with alligators in the sewer. One of the best responses to date came from Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire GOP chair, who called the claim "completely preposterous" and "absolutely delusional." Mr. Cullen also went on Twitter to offer $1,000 to anyone who can prove that a single person from Massachusetts took a bus to any New Hampshire polling place last November, let alone cast an illegal ballot. No takers so far. Even Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire Republican who lost her re-election bid by fewer than 800 votes, isn't buying into the story.

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We have complained about these patently false voting fraud claims before. Often buttressed by long-standing inconsistencies in voter rolls (people registered in more than one state because they moved or the names of deceased individuals that were not excised in a timely manner), they are used by self-interested politicians, generally Republicans, to suppress voter turnout by minorities and the disadvantaged by convincing states to adopt restrictive voter ID laws. But sometimes it all gets too ridiculous, particularly for people who actually know what's going on, like the FEC's Bush-appointee Ellen Weintraub who has called for the White House to back up the busload of illegal voters claim and as heard no response to date — aside from Mr. Trump's tweet of "Great job!" directed to Mr. Miller after his truth-bending appearance on "This Week" and other Sunday talk shows.

The lesson here? Tell a falsehood badly and you may be forced to resign. Tell one boldly and unequivocally that backs up your commander-in-chief's own phony-yet-ego-reenforcing narrative, and you can be assured that your bus stops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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