Trump rehashes baseless election claims in 46-minute video from the White House
WASHINGTON – Nearly four weeks after President-elect Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 election, President Donald Trump continues to level baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and a litany of conspiracy theories that have failed to hold up in court.
Those claims have continued despite a series of scathing court decisions – including one written by a Trump-appointed judge – growing dissention within the GOP and an admission by his own Attorney General that there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
Trump's latest salvo came Wednesday with a 46-minute video in which he rehashed many of the same claims. Describing the remarks as "the most important speech I've ever made," Trump's video was posted late to social media without warning.
Though the video had the look of an official address, shot in the Diplomatic Room of the White House with a fireplace and a U.S. flag in the background, Trump's words had the feel of a series of tweets strung together intended to lash out at perceived enemies, the media, election officials and even members of his own administration.
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Trump's video was posted a day after Attorney General Bill Barr disputed the president's claims by declaring the Justice Department had found no evidence of fraud at the level that would overturn the results of the election. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany earlier in the day dismissed Barr's comment, made to the Associated Press, and pointedly declined to say whether Trump still had confidence in him.
Biden won the popular vote with more than 81 million votes compared to Trump's 74 million. The key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia have already certified Biden as the winner. Georgia is conducting a second recount but the Republican Secretary of State there indicated Wednesday that it had so far not found results that deviate significantly from the original count.
Little in Trump's remarks was new and many of the same arguments have been attempted by his legal team in state and federal courts without success. Trump has held out hope that the Supreme Court will hear at least one of the cases. But even if the court takes up the most likely candidate – a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania – it would not affect the outcome of the race.
"We're going to show it, and hopefully the courts in particular, the Supreme Court of the United States will see it," Trump said. "Because our country cannot live with this kind of an election."
Here is a look at some of the claims Trump made in the video:
Claim: Trump repeated his false allegation that a mysterious "massive dump of votes" cost him Wisconsin and gave the victory to Biden, who won the state by around 20,000 votes.
Facts: Trump has complained repeatedly that he was initially ahead of Biden in key battleground states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, only to see his lead disappear after absentee ballots were "dumped" overnight.
Biden jumped ahead as more absentee ballots were counted and reported – but a surge of Democratic votes was long expected. It was not a mysterious "dump" of votes.
For the past year, election experts warned it would take days or even weeks to have final election results because of the unprecedented volume of mail-in absentee ballots during the pandemic. Those absentee ballots skewed heavily for Biden after Trump’s yearlong assault on mail-in voting turned off his voters to the method.
Election officials in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could not begin processing absentee ballots until Election Day, and Michigan only had only a 10-hour head start, forcing the counting of absentee ballots to extend past election night. Local election officials in these three states had pleaded for state law changes to begin processing ballots earlier, but Republican-controlled state legislatures in each refused.
The surge Trump refers to in Wisconsin came from heavily Democratic Milwaukee County, which unlike some counties in the state, waited to report all its absentee votes from Milwaukee and other towns and cities together. Other communities counted absentee ballots at polling places, and reported them along with their in-person vote totals.
As a result, from 3:26 to 3:44 a.m. in the Associated Press election reporting stream, Wisconsin’s vote for Biden jumped by 149,520 votes and Trump's vote jumped by 31,803 votes, pushing Biden to the lead.
Biden won Milwaukee County 69% to 29%. But the absentee ballots that were reported last favored Biden by an even wider margin because Democrats were significantly more likely to vote by mail than Republicans.
Claim: Trump said that his campaign found hundreds of thousands of discrepancies or fraudulent votes, in part because “they were not allowed to be seen by Republican poll watchers, because the poll watchers were locked out of the building."
Facts: The claim is untrue. Poll watchers from the Trump campaign as well as both the Republican and Democratic parties were allowed to observe vote processing. The claim was also contradicted in the president’s campaign legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada – the latter two have since been dismissed.
In Michigan, a judge denied the Trump campaign’s lawsuit to stop vote-counting until the campaign’s representatives could get what it called “meaningful access” to observe the process. A judge in Nevada rejected the case after the campaign failed to show how election officials interfered with poll observers while a Trump campaign attorney admitted in court that the campaign had a “non-zero number” of poll watchers in Philadelphia, where it was challenging the results.
A viral video emerged on Nov. 3 showing observers from both the Republican and Democratic parties who were locked out because the limit on election challengers had already been exceeded. The Detroit Free Press reported that at one point roughly 400 challengers were inside the room where vote processing was underway. Election officials then limited the number of people allowed inside over concerns about the spread of COVID-19, building security and increasing tensions, but said challengers from both parties were allowed to observe.
Claim: Trump said the Democratic Party mailed tens of millions of ballots to "unknown recipients" with virtually no safeguards in place.
Facts: Trump and the national Republican Party launched an all-out assault on mail-in voting that began long before the election. The president frequently conflated states that automatically sent a ballot to each registered voter with the vast majority of states, which sent a ballot only if requested by the voter.
In those cases, state officials – not the Democratic Party – check the validity of the absentee ballots in the same general manner they have always done.
Nine states and the District of Columbia said they would use the "universal" system of sending ballots to all voters. Of those nine states, only one – Nevada – was considered remotely competitive.
Regardless of the system, a person must be registered to vote to receive the ballot. Trump has pointed to errors in state registration rolls, which do exist. But state election officials verified the completed ballots once they had been mailed back in.
States have different ways to confirm the validity of a ballot for in-person voting, but for mail ballots the principal method by verifying information on the mail ballot itself, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy institute.
Claim: Trump reiterated a claim that Dominion Voting Systems, a company that supplies election equipment to more than two dozen states, deleted votes for Trump or switched them to votes for Biden.
Facts: The Department Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which oversees U.S. election security, issued a joint statement that found "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." The statement added that all states with close results have paper records of each vote that allow for a recount, if necessary.
In its own fact-check, the DHS cybersecurity division said every state has safeguards in place to ensure bad actors cannot change the election outcome without detection. Those measures include protection against malicious software and regularly checking that tabulation systems are functioning, without any irregularities or glitches. The tabulation systems also undergo rigorous testing and certification requirements before the election.
Trump and his supporters have pushed a series of false claims about Dominion, including that the company has ties to Venezuela and makes political donations to the Democratic party. The company has categorically denied these claims.
The Denver-based, nonpartisan company has said it made a one-time philanthropic commitment at a Clinton Global Initiative meeting in 2014 but the nonprofit has no involvement in Dominion’s operations, the Associated Press reported.
Claim: Trump has repeatedly claimed that the recounts taking place in Georgia mean “nothing” because election officials don't check signatures.
Facts: Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of recounts in Georgia by arguing signatures on the ballots haven't been checked. But state officials in Georgia are required to check signatures when the ballots are first received and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – who has identified himself as a Trump supporter – said that process occurred.
When a voter requested a ballot by mail the person required to sign the application, state officials have said. Election officials compared the signature on the request to the signature in voter registration files before the ballot was sent to the voter, Raffensperger has said. When those ballots were returned, the required signature on the outer envelope was compared to signatures in the voter registration system.
Georgia officials certified Biden’s victory after an initial state-ordered hand recount affirmed he won the state by 12,284 votes. It was a smaller margin than the former vice president’s initial 14,000-vote lead after election administrators found uncounted votes in four counties resulting from errors by local election officials.
The Trump campaign requested a second recount, which is in the process of being completed.
Contributing: David Jackson, Ella Lee, Associated Press.