Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a frequent opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. Follow her on Twitter @fridaghitis. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

CNN  — 

President Donald Trump suffered a decisive loss in his quest for reelection. The voters spoke and their verdict is clear: The Trump presidency will end on Jan. 20, 2021. What is not clear is just how much more damage Trump will do to the country before that date arrives.

Frida Ghitis

After four years of undermining US democracy, Trump has launched his most direct attack against it, rejecting the results of the election and mobilizing his most fervent supporters to try either to overturn the result – which seems all but impossible – or, more likely, create enough doubt about the results that Trump can claim he was cheated and remains undefeated. That would protect his self-image as some version of invincible and thus safeguard his political power to influence US politics or even run again in 2024.

The Trump campaign, CNN reports, is planning a “messaging blitz” to amplify his false claims that the election was stolen. Unless someone can prevail on Trump to accept reality, the coming days and weeks could bring campaign-style rallies – potential Covid-spreading events – of Trump supporters disputing the election results.

President-elect Joe Biden won the popular votes with a more than 4 million-vote margin – the highest vote total of any candidate in the history of the republic. Biden’s victory in the Electoral College is expanding, possibly ending with a margin at least as wide as the one Trump called a landslide in 2016. Even Fox News, normally supportive of Trump, agreed when all the networks concluded Biden had won the election.

At war with the truth, Trump went on television to claim the election was being stolen from him and tweeted, “I WON THIS ELECTION BY A LOT!”

Already, conspiracy theories are spreading like a raging forest fire after a long drought. So-called “Stop the Steal” protests have flared across the country. The groups grew out of a Facebook page filled with fake videos supposedly proving vote fraud as Trump fanned the conspiracy flames, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers in hours – one of the fastest-growing Facebook pages in the platform’s history, according to The New York Times– before Facebook shut it down.

Two days after Election Day, the former chief security officer at Facebook, Alex Stamos, tweeted, “This is the most intense online disinformation event in U.S. history.” Meanwhile, Trump’s legal challenges aren’t going his way for now. Courts are dismissing claims of fraud, so, the campaign is running a parallel disinformation campaign. The conspiracies, the fake videos, the unfounded claims, are being promoted and amplified by the President, his son Donald Trump Jr. and others in his orbit.

The campaign is reportedly planning to claim that large numbers of votes in Michigan were cast in the names of dead people. CNN reviewed the evidence supposedly showing that happened and didn’t find a single instance. The lieutenant governor of Georgia, Republican Geoff Duncan, says he has seen no evidence of voting irregularities in that pivotal state.

In fact, we’ve yet to see any credible evidence that Biden did not win, and the election appears to have been clean and efficient overall, perhaps because election officials were under so much pressure to protect the system from interference.

Still, Trump’s supporters continue to egg him on. Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox on Sunday, “Do not concede, Mr. President, fight hard.”

Trump’s refusal to concede is already harming the transition. The Trump-appointed administrator of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, has refused to write the letter that the Biden transition team needs to get access to resources needed for the incoming administration to prepare for its duties. Less than a week before Election Day, the White House installed a new head of the general counsel office at GSA, another Trump appointee. Hobbling the work of the transition team will hurt the entire country.

Trump’s disinformation campaign is the most dangerous version yet of the “alternative facts” strategy he launched after his 2017 inauguration. That’s when he told Americans to ignore what they had seen with their own eyes and believe millions more had attended the event than appeared on television screens showing wide empty spaces.

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    Back then, he denied reality to bolster his image. What’s happening now is arguably much more harmful. Trump is choosing to end his presidency as he started it, attacking the truth and undermining the nation’s institutions.

    By now, we know exactly who Trump is. He lied from the day he came to office, and he’s doing it again on his way out in hopes that he will personally benefit. That is hardly a surprise. What is still surprising is that so many Republicans who were once honorable public servants have chosen to join his attack on American democracy.

    In the end, Trump will have to move out of the White House, whether he likes it or not. But his shenanigans will leave the country wounded.