April 5, 2023

Trump Is The Biggest Election Cheater in U.S. History

Trump Is The Biggest Election Cheater in U.S. History

No one has made more frequent and extravagant claims that there has been U.S. election fraud than Donald J. Trump.  Among other charges over the past fifteen years, Trump falsely claimed: that Barack Obama may have been wrongly elected president in 2008 because he possibly concealed that he was not born in the United States; that voting machines in 2012 were rigged to switch votes from GOP nominee Mitt Romney to Obama; that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party took steps to rig the 2016 election against Trump; and that Trump easily beat Joe Biden in 2020 and only massive fraud by Biden and the Democrats obscured that result.

Trump never produced a shred of serious evidence to back up any of his claims that Democrats cheated in those elections. What instead seems clear now, from multiple criminal and congressional proceedings, including this week’s New York indictment, is that Trump himself is the biggest election cheater in U.S. history.

The court filings from Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg assert that Trump falsified business records to conceal that he paid porn actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence regarding a one-night tryst. The timing of the agreement to pay off Daniels — less than a month before the 2016 election — suggests the purpose was to conceal the information from voters, rather than to hide the affair from his wife and family.

So does a key nugget in the New York court papers: The assertion that Trump directed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to delay paying Daniels “as long as possible,” because “if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point it would not matter if the story became public.” While that assertion is an amusing echo of Trump’s decades-long record of unpaid bills, its real significance is that it reaffirms that the point of concealing the hush money payments was to hide the truth from voters in the 2016 election.

Indeed, that the Daniels payoff was aimed at fooling voters, and thus cheating on the election, was already confirmed by the federal prosecution and guilty plea, while Trump was president, of Michael Cohen. Cohen pled guilty precisely to making and concealing hush money payments to Daniels and another woman with whom Trump allegedly had an affair “in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.”  Why the Justice Department did not indict Trump for this offense after he left office is unclear; the evidence certainly seemed to warrant charges.

But the Cohen case and the pending New York prosecution of Trump is, of course, not the only evidence that Trump tried to cheat in elections, or even in the 2016 election.

The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller of Trump 2016 campaign connections to Russia confirmed media accounts of extensive interactions between Trump officials, among them Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, and pro-Russia interests, including the fact that Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt, from the Russian government, on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 general election foe.  Trump himself openly called on Russia to hack and release Clinton’s emails. Trump and his team did all this despite federal laws prohibiting foreign interference in U.S. elections. While Trump denied working with Russia to influence the election, the Mueller report documented numerous efforts by Trump to obstruct the probe, and thus conceal the facts.

When Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for the first time, in December 2019, what was the offense? He essentially solicited a bribe from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, suggesting to Zelensky that he would provide Ukraine with the military aid already authorized by Congress only if Zelensky would announce a criminal investigation of Joe Biden, then one of the leading candidates poised to rival Trump in 2020 and, of course, ultimately the Democratic nominee. This was, again, a corrupt effort to cheat in the U.S. election, by pressuring a foreign leader to make false accusations against an electoral foe. A federal prosecution for this offense is also long overdue.

Trump’s efforts to cheat in the 2020 election were ongoing. He urged and endorsed efforts by his underlings and supporters to act in intimidatingthreatening, and illegal ways toward Democratic voters. He and his administration repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by using government officials and resources to advance his re-election.

Then, after Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 million votes and by an electoral college margin of 306 to 232, Trump took numerous steps to undermine the will of the people. He pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” the 11,780 votes Trump needed to overtake Biden in that state. He pressured state legislators to overturn results, and he participated in efforts to create fake slates of Trump electors from multiple states. He pressured Vice President Mike Pence to use his role as president of the Senate to block the counting of votes for Biden.

When none of that worked, Trump used a January 6 rally and a stream of ominous tweets to rile up an angry mob and turn them on the U.S. Capitol while votes were being tabulated, resulting in death and destruction.

Trump took all these steps despite members of his team informing him repeatedly that there was no serious evidence of significant election fraud by Biden and the Democrats, a reality confirmed by multiple investigations, by the testimony of numerous state election officials, Republican and Democrat, and by the outcome of some 60 court challenges brought by Trump, all of which he lost, including at the hands of federal judges and Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump himself. For this misconduct, the House in 2021 impeached Trump again, and 57 of the 100 U.S. Senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict him.

Trump’s extravagant claims that his opponents were cheating in 2020, as well as 2016, were not, therefore, genuine steps to combat election fraud, as he falsely claimed; his multiple moves, instead, were themselves part of a larger scheme of election fraud he pursued.  That is why — apart from investigation by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith into Trump taking classified government records when he left office, and then concealing that theft from federal agencies — Trump’s criminal legal peril, from that same special counsel, from a Georgia state prosecutor, and from the Manhattan DA, is now focused on his repeated and egregious efforts to deceive voters and cheat to gain the White House.

Trump is the biggest election cheater, by far.