Trump pushes discredited election conspiracy theories in ranting first TV interview since defeat

Griffin Connolly
·5-min read
Donald Trump has still not accepted the results of the 2020 election. (Getty Images)
Donald Trump has still not accepted the results of the 2020 election. (Getty Images)

Donald Trump let loose a torrent of discredited conspiracy theories about a stolen 2020 election in his first interview since losing to President-elect Joe Biden earlier this month.

The outgoing president, who still has not conceded to Mr Biden weeks after news networks called the race for the former Democratic vice president, dusted off his most ludicrous claims as Fox News host Maria Bartiromo sat by without objection in Sunday’s live phone interview.

Mr Trump claimed, without providing any evidence, that some states allowed voters to turn in ballots after Election Day; that vote-counting machines were rigged to favour Mr Biden; and even that the FBI, the Justice Department and the federal court system were complicit in an attempt to cover up election fraud.

None of these claims is true. Even the president’s own campaign legal team has never actually alleged fraud in court because they know there is not a case.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump baselessly claimed once again that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him, just minutes after senior GOP Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri admitted on another network, CNN, that the election was not in fact rigged.

“This election was rigged. This election was a total fraud,” Mr Trump said.

Media networks called the presidential race for Mr Biden weeks ago. And despite the president’s claim on Sunday that multiple world leaders had called him to tell him, “That’s the most messed up election we’ve ever seen,” Mr Biden has fielded calls from nearly every US ally congratulating him on his electoral victory. Mr Trump’s administration, on the other hand, has released no phone call readouts where world leaders have given such congratulations.

Perhaps most illuminating about the president’s thinking regarding the election was his incredulity that the courts, including several federal judges he has appointed over the last four years, have been almost uniformly ruling against his campaign legal team in its bid to overturn the election results.

“I wanted to file one suit — Donald J Trump, President of the United States against … you know,” the president said, unable to name who the defendant in such a suit would actually be.

“Put everything into one simple suit. And they say, 'Sir, you don't have standing.' I say, 'I don't have standing? President of the United States — I don't have standing?' What kind of a court system is this?” Mr Trump said.

Bemoaning the limits of executive power, Mr Trump also lamented that his FBI and DOJ were not doing more to prosecute allegations of election corruption.

All the while, Ms Bartiromo encouraged him to persist.

“Where is the DOJ and the FBI in all of this, Mr President? You have laid out some serious charges here. Shouldn't this be something that the FBI is investigating? Are they?” she said.

Mr Trump responded: “Missing in action. Can’t tell you where they are.”

The outgoing president then admitted that he had asked advisers whether those law enforcement organisations were doing his bidding regarding overturning the election results.

“I ask, ‘Are they looking at it?’ Everyone says, yes, they're looking at it,” he said, his voice despondent.

Mr Trump then alluded to the “deep state” conspiracy that pervades the modern Republican party, complaining that the top brass within the intelligence community has been there “for a long time” and has no loyalty to individual presidents such as himself.

The intelligence community operates the way it does precisely so that presidents can’t bend agencies to their political wills the way Mr Trump has tried to do over the last four years.

“The FBI is great at the levels that we talk about, but I just — it's inconceivable. You would think if you're in the FBI or Department of Justice this is the biggest thing you could be looking at,” he said about allegations of election fraud.

“Where are they? I've not seen anything. I mean, I just — they just keep moving along, and they go on to the next president,” Mr Trump said.

The outgoing president’s rhetoric has had a substantial impact on the way Americans view democracy in their country.

Ms Bartiromo pointed to a Reuters poll that found more than two of every three registered Republicans believe the 2020 election suffered from widespread voter fraud.

But Mr Trump merely repeated the lie that judges are stymieing him from presenting evidence. They have, in fact, invited the Trump campaign to present evidence and make specific allegations of voter fraud time and again, but the campaign had declined.

“We're trying to put the evidence in and the judges won't allow us to do it,” Mr Trump said. “We’re trying.”

The president’s ongoing crusade to push his conspiracy theories about election fraud have jeopardised Republican efforts to keep the Senate.

GOP incumbents in Georgia David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are in respective runoff races against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock slated for 5 January, and Republican strategists fear that voters may not show up to the polls if they believe Mr Trump’s false claims that their votes aren’t being counted properly.

One of Mr Perdue or Ms Loeffler must win in order for the GOP to keep its Senate majority.

Mr Trump lost to Mr Biden in the Peach State by less than 1 per cent of the total vote, a recount of the initial results has found.

The president is heading to Georgia next Saturday to rally for Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler, but in the meantime, he has continued to cast doubt on whether voting even matters or whether malign actors in the state are covertly tipping the scales in favour of Democrats — again, a claim that is completely without merit.

“Look at the election you have coming up [in Georgia] right now. You're using the same garbage machinery, Dominion,” Mr Trump said in his interview on Sunday, repeating a false claim that the vote-counting machine company Dominion Voting Systems had thrown out votes for him in the 2020 presidential race.

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