In his first interview since Election Day, President Donald Trump recapped baseless, false and misleading claims he has made before of a “rigged” election.
Trump spoke by phone with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Nov. 29. In the interview, Trump went so far as to suggest the Department of Justice might be part of some grand conspiracy. “This is total fraud. And how the FBI and Department of Justice — I don’t know. Maybe they’re involved,” Trump said.
There’s no evidence that Trump’s loss of a second term is due to “fraud.” State and federal judges have rejected Trump’s claims, saying the Trump legal team has provided no evidence of fraud, and election security officials have labeled this “the most secure in American history.”
Update, Dec. 1: Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press on Dec. 1 that U.S. attorneys and the FBI have followed up on claims of fraud. “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr said.
Bogus Attacks on Dominion Voting Systems
The president stuck to a conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems had switched “thousands of votes” from him to President-elect Joe Biden, saying these were cases of “theft” not “glitches.” A group of federal, state and local officials overseeing the nation’s voting system refuted such claims back on Nov. 12, hours after Trump tweeted them.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees. The joint statement from the groups described the 2020 election as “the most secure in American history.”
That statement was distributed by Trump’s own government: the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Five days after that statement, Trump fired the head of CISA, Christopher Krebs.
In a Nov. 29 interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Krebs, a Republican, reiterated that claims about election software or systems being hacked are “nonsense.” He said that the use of paper ballots, which increased in 2020 compared with 2016, gives officials the ability to “check the tape.”
“That gives you the ability to prove that there was no malicious algorithm or hacked software that adjusted the tally of the vote, and just look at what happened in Georgia,” Krebs said. “Georgia has machines that tabulate the vote. They then held a hand recount and the outcome was consistent with the machine vote.”
When Trump tweeted about “deleted” or “switched” votes on Nov. 12, we found his claims could be traced back to an anonymous post on a pro-Trump message board.
Kay Stimson, Dominion Voting Systems’ vice president for governmental affairs, told us in an email then that its technology, certified by 28 states, didn’t cause any vote switching. “Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies any claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems,” Stimson said. “Our systems continue to reliably and accurately count ballots, and state and local election authorities have publicly confirmed the integrity of the process.”
Dominion Voting Systems, which is based in Denver, has a webpage dedicated to rebutting bogus rumors about its equipment and technology. It reiterates that claims about deleting or switching votes are “completely false.”
But Trump repeated them to Bartiromo anyway:
Trump: You start with these machines that have been suspect, not allowed to be used in Texas, the Dominion machines, where tremendous reports have been put out.
We have affidavits on — from many people talking about what went on with machines. They had glitches. …
Well, no, we had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account. And these are glitches. So, they’re not glitches. They’re theft. They’re fraud, absolute fraud. And there were many of them, but, obviously, most of them tremendous amounts, got by without us catching. …
I think we caught four or five glitches of about 5,000 votes each, and different states. And, again, they’re not glitches. That was fraud. And they got caught.
There were no such glitches. “No credible reports or evidence of any software issues exist,” Dominion Voting Systems says.
The election results “are 100% auditable,” the company says.
There were a few cases of human errors that were quickly corrected. We wrote about one case in Shiawassee County, Michigan, in which a typo led to a brief, large uptick in votes for Biden. It was quickly caught and corrected.
The New York Times investigated five cases — not all of them in counties using Dominion software — and found that they were all promptly detected and corrected. “In all of the cases, software did not affect the vote counts,” the Times reported.
Update, Dec. 1: Attorney General Barr told the Associated Press: “There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”
As for Texas, the state has declined to certify Dominion systems. Dominion says: “While we disagree with Texas’ decision to not certify our systems, we understand there are different standards in different states. Sometimes it takes adjustments, for any company’s systems, to meet a certain state’s standard.”
In the Fox News interview, Trump also falsely claimed, “You know, the votes in Dominion, they say, are counted in foreign countries, OK?” Whoever says this is wrong.
“Vote counts are conducted by county and state election officials, not by Dominion,” the company says.
On “60 Minutes,” Krebs was asked specifically about this false claim by Trump and others. “So all votes in the United States of America are counted in the United States of America,” he said. “I don`t– I don`t understand this claim. All votes in the United States of America are counted in the United States of America. Period.”
False Claim of Winning Before Votes Were Counted
Trump also repeated his false claim to have “won” on Election Night, despite the fact that several states hadn’t counted enough ballots at that point to project a winner.
Trump: And what happened, if you watched the election, I was called by the biggest people, saying, congratulations, political people. Congratulations, sir. You just won the election. It was 10:00. And you looked at the numbers. And I’m sure you felt that way.
This election was over. And then they did dumps. They call them dumps, big, massive dumps, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and all over. …
And they did these massive dumps of votes. And, all of a sudden, I went from winning by a lot to losing by a little. And, in some cases, it took a period of time to do it. North Carolina, they couldn’t do it. I won North Carolina. They couldn’t — somehow, they had a better system. But they couldn’t do anything. I believe they tried.
As we’ve written before, it was no surprise that Trump’s lead in some states dwindled, or was erased, as more votes were counted because those states counted in-person votes first and mail-in votes later. Democrats were more likely to vote by mail.
State laws in Pennsylvania and Michigan prohibited election officials from counting mail-in ballots until Election Day. Pennsylvania could not even begin pre-canvassing — opening envelopes and preparing the ballots to be counted — until 7 a.m. on Election Day, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said at a virtual seminar held Oct. 20 by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University.
At the time, she said that the majority of ballots wouldn’t be counted until Friday, Nov. 6. In fact, the state hadn’t counted enough ballots for media outlets to project Biden the winner until Nov. 7.
Dead People Voting
The president repeated the unsubstantiated claim that “thousands” of dead people voted in the election.
“Dead people were seeing ballots,” Trump said, speaking of mail-in ballots. “But, even worse, dead people were applying to get a ballot. They were making application to get ballots, many. And, you know, we’re not talking about 10 people. We’re talking — there are a lot of dead people that so-called voted in this election.”
“But dead people were, in some cases, in many, many cases, thousands of cases, voted, but, also, dead people made application to vote,” he continued. “They were dead 10 years, 15 years, and they actually made application.”
As we’ve written, allegations of dead people voting cropped up shortly after the election, particularly in Pennsylvania, which Biden won by more than 80,000 votes. But there is no evidence of such voting fraud on any large scale.
Election experts previously told us that while on occasion these types of fraudulent incidents occur, they are rare — and frequently, alleged cases of dead people voting can be explained by list-matching or administrative errors, such as confusing two people with identical or similar names.
One purported dead voter in Michigan, for example, was a case of mistaken identity. In a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign, which has since been voluntarily withdrawn, a mother claimed that she saw records stating that her deceased son had voted after he died. Voting records in the state, however, show that her son did not vote after he died and his registration had been appropriately canceled. The state suspects that the mother saw records for another person with her son’s name.
Poll Watchers and ‘Unexpected’ Ballots
Trump once again falsely said that Republicans weren’t allowed to have poll watchers and incorrectly claimed to have pictures and evidence “of new ballots being brought into counting rooms.” That could be a reference to a viral video of a man unloading camera equipment — not ballots.
Trump: You know, the poll watchers — and this is true with all of the states, just about, that you’re talking about, I think all of them. They weren’t allowed to have poll watchers. The Democrats and thugs, thugs — I’m not talking about saying, could you please move over? They threw them out of the counting rooms. They weren’t allowed to be in. They threw them outside in many cases.
You heard the story where the people, they went out and sent for binoculars, because they wouldn’t allow them to watch. And during that period of time, a lot of bad things happened. Then they closed — as you know, they closed up the voting, and then for — unexpectedly. They closed up all of the counting.
Unexpectedly, new ballots came in. And it was all new numbers being added. We have pictures and we have evidence of new ballots being brought into counting rooms.
Trump and his campaign have frequently pointed to issues related to election observer access in lawsuits, but it’s not true that Republicans were not permitted to have observers.
In Pennsylvania, for example, the dispute was about how close the observers could get to poll workers, as we’ve written. And in another case, a Trump lawyer even admitted during a hearing that the campaign did have some canvassing observers present when he said, “There’s a nonzero number of people in the room.”
The Trump campaign also alleged that it did not have “meaningful opportunity” to observe ballot counting in Detroit, but later withdrew its suit. There is no evidence that at any time there weren’t Republican observers present.
The president’s other comments also appear to refer to Detroit’s TCF Center, which on the afternoon of Nov. 4 temporarily barred some election observers of both parties from entering because of capacity limits.
The unexpected arrival of “new ballots being brought into counting rooms” could be a reference to an already debunked viral video from a conservative website showing a man unloading a black box from a white van and putting it into a wagon that was wheeled into the counting center.
The implication is that the box contained ballots, but as we’ve explained before, it was camera equipment. Ross Jones, an investigative reporter for WXYZ-TV, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, said on Twitter: “The ‘ballot thief’ was my photographer. He was bringing down equipment for our 12-hour shift.”
Flawed Logic on ‘Just Biden on Top’
Trump claimed that “a lot of ballots” included votes only for Biden and no other down-ballot candidates, citing this as evidence of fraud. But Trump’s logic is flawed.
Trump: As you know, there were a lot of ballots where it was just Biden on top. They didn’t do anything else, because they were in a rush. And from what everybody is saying, and from what — I don’t think we even have to prove this. They say that I was doing so much better than they thought that they panicked, and they started just doing ballot after ballot very quickly and just checking the Biden name on top. They didn’t have time.
So, you have all these ballots with just one name checked. People don’t vote that way.
It is true that Biden won more votes than Democrats running in other races. For example, Biden received about 100,000 more votes in Georgia than Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff. But that doesn’t mean — as Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes has claimed — that those ballots contained votes only for Biden and no other down-ballot candidate.
When asked to comment on similar claims about “Biden-only” voting in Georgia, Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told us it is not possible to know how many Georgians voted for Biden and no other candidate. That “would require individual-level information from ballots, not aggregation information about ballots cast in each race,” he said.
Instead, Biden’s better performance than Ossoff in Georgia is likely because of ticket-splitting, when a voter picks a presidential candidate of one party and a Senate candidate of another party, and “ballot roll-off,” which is when voters skip certain races.
Burden told us it’s not unusual for voters to “choose a candidate at the top of the ballot and then ‘roll off’ as they move down the ballot. There is nothing suspicious about lower participation in lower level races.”
Trump Ballots Weren’t ‘Thrown Out’
The president claimed that “many ballots with the name Trump on were thrown out.” But there is no evidence that any ballots legally cast for Trump were not counted.
“Many ballots with the name Trump on were thrown out. You have read that,” Trump said. “They found ballots in a river with the name Trump on from the military. They were signed. And they were floating in a river. They found ballots under rocks that had the name Trump on. They were signed. They were signed with Trump.”
Trump had been making this claim even before the Nov. 3 election. But there is only one instance of Trump votes — seven of them — accidentally being tossed out. It happened in September, when the Justice Department announced that nine military ballots — seven cast for Trump — were found in a trash can in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
Republicans Win with Mail-In Ballots
Trump made the baseless and contradictory claim that Republicans cannot win with mail-in voting. “And, by the way,” he said, “if Republicans allow it to happen, you’ll never have another Republican elected in the history of this country at a Senate level or at a presidential level. You’ll never — or at a House level.”
The Republicans, so far, won 11 House races and lost just three for a net gain of eight, according to CNN.
In the Senate, the Republicans had nearly twice as many seats to defend (23) than the Democrats (12), but so far have had a net loss of only one seat. The Republicans may be able to keep control of the Senate, if they win at least one of the two Senate runoff races in Georgia.
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