Former President Donald Trump continues to infect the body politic with “the Big Lie” — the phony assertion that he won the 2020 presidential election.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader who expects next year’s midterm elections to make him speaker of the House, claims that “nobody” challenges the election result. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, the GOP congressman who represents most of the Mankato region, said last week that the only people talking about it are reporters and “certain Republicans,” a reference to Liz Cheney, the Wyoming representative Hagedorn helped boot from a caucus leadership post.

Meanwhile, Trump is amplifying false claims out of the Arizona “audit” of ballots in Maricopa County. The GOP state senate there hired a firm owned by a conspiracy theorist and seized the ballots and voting machines.

The company, Cyber Ninjas, has approached the task with the notion that if you search a supermarket’s meat department for boxes of toilet paper and find none, there is no toilet paper in the building. Its claim that key databases were deleted was quickly refuted by the county in a 14-page technical paper that boiled down to: They don’t know where to look.

Meanwhile the Arizona secretary of state says that the confiscated machinery cannot be used again because Cyber Ninjas “failed to provide full transparency into what they did with the equipment.”

Even as the Arizona audit descends into farcical chaos — it’s weeks behind schedule, a key subcontractor just walked away from the project and county election officials are threatening defamation lawsuits — Trump supporters are ginning up similar efforts in other states. It’s all part of the grand scheme to undermine confidence in our elections.

Washington Republicans like Hagedorn and McCarthy pretend the Big Lie is in the past. It isn’t. It’s still alive and well in the grass roots of the party, and their cowardly willingness to let it grow there is part of the problem.

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