For months before Election Day, Trump and his team had warned that such fraud was imminent, raising quickly refuted allegations of irregularities and pointing to old research on mail-in voting as evidence that the structure under -tending the vote was fragile. Trump generated an appetite for stories of ballots found in the trash or burned in mail trucks or whatever and conservative media rushed to meet the demand. But all of this was objectively unfounded – as one would expect a senator or representative to understand.
What Lee didn’t do is explained somewhat by the sources of information he shares with Meadows as he tries to help shape the White House’s post-election strategy: an article by Breitbart, one from the Washington Examiner, a tweet from a right-wing pundit. Within this bubble, the run-up to the election was a time of rampant intrigue and dishonesty aimed at stealing the election.
But then the elections were held and it soon became clear that none of this had happened.
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Roy and Lee each pushed Trump and the White House to release evidence of rampant fraud, in their own way.
On the day the election was called for Joe Biden, Roy insisted to Meadows that “we need ammunition. We need examples of fraud. We need it this weekend. Two days later, he demanded “a message that isn’t crazy” — apparently an unspoken excoriation of Trump’s enthusiastic embrace for whatever nonsense he encountered that smacks of fraud at all. And then, a few days later, he asked where he could find a catalog of fraud claims, something that existed but was filled with the kind of wacky nonsense that Roy sought to avoid.
Lee’s approach was more technical, centered on creating alternative voter lists that — importantly — adhered to the letter of state law, which Trump did not. (He also touted attorney Sidney Powell, an error in judgment that would haunt his dreams for decades.) But he, too, told Meadows the White House would need “a strong evidentiary argument” in order to compel the senators.
It’s a reminder that Trump had no such thing. That there is nothing like it. That his pre-election insistence that fraud would happen was simply replaced with insistence that fraud would be proven, a never-ending scam that continues to this day.
At the end of November 2020, three weeks after the election was called, I wrote an article making this point as kindly as possible. Trump had made a slew of fraud allegations in speeches, interviews and on social media, and one was dismissed after review. Sometimes that led to Trump not talking about it anymore. Sometimes he just ignored reality, like with the ballots that were pulled from a container in Georgia that Trump insisted were somehow a fraud despite the real, innocent explanation available. during weeks. He raised that one during his infamous call with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) – although Raffensperger’s office helped debunk the claim!
Countless times, Trump has claimed that evidence of fraud is coming soon. In the first days after the election, it was probably convincing. If you’re Mike Lee or Chip Roy and you’re hoping that Trump won, that Biden’s victory might prove hollow, that’s going to be compelling. And, in fact, Roy’s lyrics to Meadows show that kind of enthusiasm.
On November 22, 2020, he told Meadows that “[i]If we don’t get some logic and reason in there by 11/30 – the GOP conference will go into lockdown (all but the toughest Trump guys). Hence his enthusiasm on November 24 in the face of this tweet from Meadows:
BIG news in Nevada: A judge has allowed NV Republicans to present findings of widespread voter fraud at a December 3 hearing. Americans will now hear testimonies from those who saw first-hand what happened – a crucial step for transparency and the resolution of illegal ballots. Stay tuned.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) November 25, 2020
What happened in this case? The court dismissed the pro-Trump challenge as baseless. Trump allies often claim that no court has ever actually considered evidence of fraud, a claim that is often true simply because there was no credible evidence of fraud to consider. But in this Nevada case, the court was very specific.
“In a detailed 35-page decision, Judge James T. Russell of the Nevada District Court in Carson City reviewed every allegation of fraud and wrongdoing made by the Trump campaign in the state and found that none was not supported by convincing evidence”. Washington Post reported at the time. “The judge dismissed the challenge with bias, ruling that the campaign offered no basis to overturn more than 1.3 million votes cast in the state’s presidential race.”
But, of course, none of this deterred Trump himself. His investment in making people believe that his loss was not a function of his own failures preceded the election by several months and followed the election even longer. Most Republicans have moved from claiming the election was stolen by fraud to instead claiming it was “rigged” by underhanded things like nonprofit efforts to increase voter turnout. However, Trump and die-hards like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell continue to claim that there was also rampant fraud and that it’s been weeks – no, days! – no, hours! far from proving it.
In an interview with The Post’s Josh Dawsey last week, Trump said so specifically. He promised that in the following days new evidence of fraud would appear, showing millions of illegal votes. Then, in the following days, such a claim emerged. There was no evidence of millions of illegal votes being cast – or, for that matter, any illegal votes. Instead, what emerged was a mixture of technical complexity and criminal jargon that, at best, might have caught some people collecting and submitting legal ballots in a way that, in some states, violated the law. .
It’s easy to look back at the past 17 months and recognize that Trump is simply breeding nonsense in his efforts to keep his hooks (and fundraising siphon) embedded in his base. But it was equally evident on November 3 that he was not honest in his assessments of the election. He had spent so much time before the election doing what he spent the next few months doing: saying things happened that didn’t happen and suggesting things were bad that weren’t.
A member of the House and a senator should have recognized that Trump was dishonest before the election and should not have assumed that real evidence of rampant fraud would emerge afterwards. This is not the case. At present, it is safe to say that this will not be the case.