Presidents usually experience a poll bump after they leave office. George W. Bush, for example, nearly doubled his popularity rating between 2009 and 2018. If there is any justice in the world (admittedly a big if), that won’t happen with Donald Trump. If posterity needs any reminder of how awful he has been, all it will have to do is look at his final days in office. Trump has saved the worst for last — and there is still a month to go before he is evicted from the White House.

Trump’s singular focus since the election has been on overturning the results even at the cost of destroying U.S. democracy. For more than six weeks, Trump has been spewing conspiracy theories about nonexistent election fraud — claims that have been rejected in 59 court cases and counting, including by Trump-appointed judges.

On Friday, as the New York Times first reported, Trump met at the White House with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a pardoned felon, and attorney Sidney Powell, who was fired from the Trump legal team after promoting conspiracy theories about the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez too wacky even for Trump. Trump reportedly discussed with the duo Flynn’s idea of declaring martial law and having the military “rerun” the election — or, failing that, appointing Powell as a special counsel to probe (nonexistent) election fraud.

These dangerous ideas may not be implemented, but simply the fact that they are being discussed marks a new low. Never before in U.S. history has there been a record of a president discussing a military coup to stay in office. Is there any doubt that if Trump could find any active-duty generals willing to carry out this plot against America, he would give it the go-ahead? In this instance, all that is preserving the Constitution is the military’s fidelity to the rule of law.

The MAGA march on D.C. showed Trump supporters are not a monolith, but their dedication to the president is singular. (The Washington Post)

While Trump is focused like a laser on his election grievances, he has all but checked out of the fight against a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 316,000 Americans and that is projected to kill more than 560,000 by April. This past March, after repeatedly claiming that the coronavirus would miraculously go away on its own, Trump said that if it killed fewer than 200,000 people, that would mean his administration has “done a very good job.” So he has failed by his own metric.

“I think he’s just done with covid,” one of Trump’s closest advisers told The Post. If only covid-19 were done with us. The only time Trump even mentions the pandemic anymore is to brag about the vaccine rollout, yet he has ignored pleas from his aides to tout the safety of the vaccine, push for a national testing plan or promote universal mask-wearing. The latter step alone could save more than 50,000 lives by April 2021, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The pandemic isn’t the only threat to America that Trump is ignoring. U.S. government and corporate computer systems have been massively infiltrated, apparently by Russian hackers. “The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate,” warns Trump’s former homeland security adviser Thomas P. Bossert. “The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributed the assault to Russia. But Trump took to Twitter, contradicting Pompeo, playing down the severity of the attack and claiming that “it may be China (it may!).”

Thus the Trump presidency ends as it began — with Trump denying the reality of Russian cyberattacks and serving as an apologist for the dictator in the Kremlin. Gregory F. Treverton, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told The Post that Trump “behaves so much like a paid Russian agent. If you look at the string of his actions and pronouncement, the only consistent interpretation that you can logically draw is that he’s in their thrall.”

Treverton joins a long line of intelligence and law enforcements veterans — including former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and former CIA director Michael Hayden — who have concluded that Trump must have been compromised by the Kremlin. Such allegations haven’t been proved, but so much that Trump does lends credence to them.

There are many other Trump transgressions since the election. He has purged the senior leadership of the Pentagon and installed conspiracy-mongering loyalists in their place. He has fired a senior cybersecurity official, Christopher Krebs, for attesting that the election was free of fraud. He unloaded on Attorney General William P. Barr for not doing more to politicize his department, leading to Barr’s departure. He has pulled U.S. troops out of Somalia just as a new al-Shabab plot to attack the United States was uncovered. He has held holiday parties that undoubtedly spread covid-19. And there is certainly worse to come — including a pardon-palooza that would put Trump cronies and family members beyond the reach of the law.

If future generations are tempted to romanticize the Trump presidency, all they will have to do is look at his final days to see why historians are likely to regard him as the worst president in U.S. history.

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