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Fact check: A sample of the false claims Trump, Republicans told on the day the Capitol was stormed


Both before and after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, Trump and a group of congressional Republicans repeated some of the same baseless election-related nonsense that has agitated much of the President’s base.

Trump was speaking at a rally near the White House. Members of the House and Senate were speaking as they objected to some of Joe Biden’s electoral votes.

Trump peppered his rally speech with his usual series of wildly false claims about the presidential election he lost — claiming that “we won it by a landslide,” that the election was “so corrupt,” that unnamed people “rigged” the process, and that Joe Biden got “80 million computer votes” rather than legitimate votes.

Facts First: That is all false. Trump lost a free and fair election to Biden — 306-232 in the Electoral College. Biden earned more than 81 million legitimate votes, exceeding Trump’s total by more than 7 million. There is no evidence the election was rigged in any way.

Pence’s “right”

According to Trump, “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” He added, “all Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify,” which Trump claimed Pence has “the absolute right to do.”

Facts First: This is totally false. There’s nothing in the law about Pence doing anything but calling on tellers and announcing the results. The Constitution only gives him the power to count the votes.

According to CNN contributor and law professor Steve Vladeck, Trump’s claim is “just not true.”

Vladeck pointed to the 12th Amendment which outlines the Vice President’s traditional role in the certification process as largely ceremonial. The Vice President, in his or her role as President of the Senate, is given the power to “open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”

“There’s no discretion on [the Vice President’s] part, nor has any Vice President previously claimed the power to reject any properly formatted certificates,” Vladeck told CNN.

Even the President’s longtime attorney Jay Sekulow has said Pence doesn’t legally have the authority to trigger such an outcome.

“Some have speculated that the vice president could simply say, ‘I’m not going to accept these electors,’ that he has the authority to do that on the Constitution. I actually don’t think that’s what the Constitution has in mind. If that were the case, any vice president could refuse any election,” Sekulow said on his radio show this week, adding that Pence’s role is “more of a ministerial procedural function.

Georgia

The President claimed that while many people were watching the Georgia election unfold Tuesday night “they cheated like hell anyway.”

“Last night was a little bit better because of the fact that we had a lot of eyes watching one specific state,” Trump said, “but they cheated like hell anyway.”

Facts First: This is false. Whether in the general election or in Tuesday’s Senate runoff, there is no evidence of mass voter fraud in Georgia. Trump’s allegations have been personally and repeatedly debunked by Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting systems implementation manager.

Trump tweeted out several false claims Tuesday and Wednesday, alleging fraud in the election.

On Tuesday, Trump claimed that “reports are coming out of the 12th Congressional District of Georgia that Dominion Machines are not working in certain Republican Strongholds for over an hour” adding that “ballots are being left in lock boxes.”
His campaign sent out emails and text messages suggesting this was part of a Democratic plot to steal the election.

But there was no stealing or cheating. On Tuesday morning there were some issues with security keys in Columbia County, Georgia. The problem was resolved, according to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, by 10 a.m. and people were able to vote through backup paper ballots in the meantime.

Sterling refuted these claims on Twitter, writing the “issue in Columbia Co. was resolved hours ago and our office informed the public about it in real time” and “The votes of everyone will be protected and counted.”
On Wednesday, Trump wrote, “They just happened to find 50,000 ballots late last night. The USA is embarrassed by fools.”
Sterling again debunked this conspiracy theory, first on CNN then on Twitter, writing in response to Trump’s post, “No Mr. President, there weren’t ‘found’ ballots. We have known the number of advanced votes since this weekend.”

“We saw record Election Day turnout,” Sterling added. “As of Monday 970,000 absentees had been accepted. 31k more were added in yesterday’s totals. That leaves 60k that came in yesterday.”

Votes in Pennsylvania

Trump claimed that, in Pennsylvania, there were “205,000 more ballots than you had voters.”

Facts First: False. There were not more votes than registered voters in Pennsylvania; state officials and fact checkers have repeatedly explained that this claim is false. Trump appeared to be invoking an incorrect figure from a Republican state legislator who had relied on incomplete data.

Election Night

Trump claimed that the election “was over at 10 o’clock in the evening” on Election Night, when he had leads in the vote counts in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but then “explosions of bullshit” occurred.

Facts First: It is obviously false that the election was over at this early stage of the counting process. There is a simple explanation for Trump’s big initial leads in some states he ended up losing, including Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan: he led because many mail-in ballots had not yet been counted. There is no indication he lost the leads for any suspicious reason.

Media outlets and political analysts had noted for weeks prior to Election Day that we were likely to see a “red mirage” in which Trump would initially appear to be up big in some states that counted mail-in ballots last. Mail-in ballots favored Biden so heavily in large part because Trump had regularly discouraged his own supporters from voting by mail. In a number of states, legislatures disallowed election officials from processing votes early, leading to delays.

Mail-in ballots

Trump continued to lie about mail-in voting, saying there was widespread fraud in mail-in voting.

“This year, using the pretext of the China virus and the scam of mail-in ballots, Democrats attempted the most brazen and outrageous election,” he said. “Theft and there’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft in American history, everybody knows it.”

Facts First: The President is repeating a lie he’s made since even before Election Day. Mail-in voting is safe, has been around for decades and studies have shown absentee fraud is extremely low. Trump may have been leading on Election Night in battleground states, but that’s because states counted the votes cast on Election Day first, and mail-in and absentee votes second.
Millions of Americans voted by mail in the 2016 election, and again during the 2020 election, and there has not been widespread fraud. Comprehensive studies of billions of ballots cast over many years indicate that the rate of voter fraud is less than 0.0001%.

“Suitcases” of ballots

Trump said that in Fulton County, Georgia, on election night, officials pulled “suitcases of ballots out from under a table,” which was “totally fraudulent.”

Facts First: Trump’s claims are entirely baseless. After reviewing footage of the polling station in question, state and county officials determined the poll workers’ actions were part of the normal process, not fraud. And the objects pulled from under the table were ballot bins, not suitcases, according to election officials.

You can read a longer fact-check here.

Audits

Trump claimed “not a single swing state has conducted a comprehensive audit to remove the illegal ballots.”

Facts First: This is false. At least two swing states conducted audits but found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Georgia conducted both a statewide audit, hand-counting about 5 million ballots and an additional recount while Arizona conducted audits in its four largest counties.

Poll watchers

On the floor of the House, New York Rep. Lee Zeldin echoed Trump’s claims that poll watchers were banned from counting locations or otherwise prevented from observing the count and denied the access they legally deserved.

According to Zeldin, “There were poll watchers denied the ability to closely observe ballot counting operation.”

Facts First: There have been no reports of systematic irregularities with poll watchers anywhere in the US. There is no evidence supporting claims that poll watchers were shut out of the process.

You can read more about what happened with poll watchers in specific states here.

Election Day extended

Objecting to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan claimed the Supreme Court extended Election Day in the commonwealth.

“Pennsylvania law says mail-in ballots have to be in by 8 p.m. election day. Democrat Supreme Court said, ‘Nope we’re going to extend it, Election Day doesn’t end on Tuesday now.’ They took it to Friday,” Jordan said.

Facts First: This is misleading and needs context. While it’s true that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for Pennsylvania to accept mail-in ballots, Election Day itself was not extended and it’s false to suggest that votes cast after Tuesday were somehow counted.

Prior to the election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed ballots received up to three days after the election, even without a valid postmark, to be counted.

As CNN’s Ariane de Vogue previously reported, Republicans asked the Supreme Court to step in to reinstate an Election Day deadline for mail-in ballots. On October 19, the US Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked 4-4, meaning the three-day extension could stand. After Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, Republicans brought their challenge back to the court, but Barrett did not participate in the case and the justices denied the request on the grounds there was not enough time to decide before the election.

Undocumented voters

Rep. Mo Brooks claimed that “Joe Biden gained roughly 1,032,000 votes from illegal alien voting.”

Facts First: This is entirely unfounded.

There is no evidence that more than a million undocumented immigrants voted, and experts say voter fraud of any type is exceedingly rare.

This is not the first time Brooks has brought up the subject of undocumented immigrants in an effort to challenge the 2020 results. On December 3 he accused Biden of “‘buying’ illegal alien block votes” through promises of amnesty and claimed that Trump “won [the] electoral college & reelection.”

This story is being updated

CNN’s Melissa Tapia contributed to this article.




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