Empty claims of voter fraud nothing new for Trump

From the start of his bid for the White House in 2016 through his re-election bid in 2020, President Donald Trump has repeatedly made allegations of election fraud - whether in victory or defeat - producing no evidence at any point to back up his claims that Republicans and Democrats had cheated him at the ballot box.

The President’s first foray into claims of election wrongdoing came in the 2016 Iowa Caucus, when Mr. Trump finished second to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-IA).

After initially accepting the results, by the next morning, it was a different story.

“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it,” candidate Trump wrote on Twitter, unwilling to accept his defeat.

“The State of Iowa should disqualify Ted Cruz from the most recent election on the basis that he cheated - a total fraud!”

There was never any evidence that Cruz or his supporters engaged in any type of election fraud, but that didn’t stop Mr. Trump from repeatedly making the charge.

“Many people voted for Cruz over (Ben) Carson because of this Cruz fraud,” the President fumed.

Weeks later, the President was still complaining.

“Ted Cruz should be disqualified from his fraudulent win in Iowa,” the President tweeted almost three weeks after the Iowa Caucus. “Weak RNC and Republican leadership probably won’t let this happen! Sad.”

After winning the GOP election, the President routinely asserted the 2016 race might be ‘rigged’ against him, as he railed against voter fraud without providing any evidence - and continued to accuse the GOP of ignoring it.

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day,” Mr. Trump tweeted several weeks before the 2016 election. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on?”

After winning the election and becoming President-Elect, four years ago right now Mr. Trump was again pressing the voter fraud case, suggesting without any evidence that he would have won the popular vote if not for millions of illegally cast ballots.

“There are millions of votes in my opinion,” the President claimed - never once backing it up with any concrete evidence.

“There is NO QUESTION THAT voter fraud did take place,” the President tweeted on November 28, 2016, singling out alleged fraud in New Hampshire, Virginia, and California.

But the allegations of election fraud in 2016 were as empty as the allegations made in 2020 - for example, the charge that buses filled with out of state voters cost him a victory in the Granite State.

“We should have won the election, but they had buses being being shipped up from Massachusetts,” the President said, repeating a conspiracy theory for four years which was debunked by state elections officials and the Republican Governor of New Hampshire.

“I’m not aware of any widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire,” said Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH).

Soon after taking office in 2017, President Trump set up a special commission to investigate voter fraud - but the panel found no evidence to back up Mr. Trump’s claims, as it was disbanded in early 2018.

There was no evidence of massive numbers of illegal votes in California as the President had repeatedly charged. There was no evidence of widespread fraud as the President had publicly alleged.

Fast forward to November of 2018, and the President was again making election fraud charges, this time over tight races for U.S. Senate and Governor in Florida, as the President quickly accused Democrats of election fraud.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere,” the President tweeted, making a completely false allegation that “many ballots are missing or forged.”

In the end, there was no fraud - it was just a very close election - where Republicans prevailed in both the race for Senate and Governor.

But the President wasn’t done in 2018 - as he also made accusations of voter fraud in Arizona, where the GOP lost a tight race for Senate, which was decided by mail-in ballots.

As in 2020, lawsuits by Republicans in Arizona about the processing of mail-in ballots - which are used by well over 80 percent of voters in that state - went nowhere in the courts.

But that didn’t stop the President from claiming fraud.

Each step along the way - 2016, 2018, 2020 - President Trump has made claims about election fraud.

But neither the President - nor his lawyers - have not come close to convincing any judges that something nefarious went on.

Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau