AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s flailing effort resting on mendacity
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s flailing attempt to cling to office after voters decisively chose to oust him has taken the country into a dark and fictional place.
According to falsehoods being told on his behalf and embraced by him, the U.S. election was manipulated by scheming from a dead Venezuelan strongman, by a computer system capable of flipping Trump votes to Joe Biden ones across the country, and by something weird happening in Germany. If that’s not enough, the communists are coming.
None of this happened. None of it is true.
But Trump and his legal team are making poisonous allegations in hopes that state Republican legislators will shatter the foundational procedures and traditions of U.S. democracy and nullify the voters’ will.
While this plays out, President-elect Biden continues to be denied the briefings and facilities given during presidential transitions. An increasing number of Republican lawmakers say he should be getting that cooperation but they haven’t done anything to make that happen.
From the past week:
TRUMP: “I WON THE ELECTION! ... I won the Election! ... I WON THE ELECTION!” — tweets Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.
THE FACTS: No, Biden won the election.
Biden achieved victory in key states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona, topping the threshold of 270 electoral votes to clinch the presidency with room to spare.
Biden also won Georgia after a recount by hand this past week. That gives him 306 electoral votes, a total that Trump called a “landslide” when states delivered him that number in 2016. (Trump ended up with 304 electoral votes because two electors defected.)
Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud have been dismissed by a succession of judges and refuted by state election officials and an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department. Many of his campaign’s lawsuits have been thrown out of court.
A coalition of state election officials and the Trump administration’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have declared that the election was the most secure in history. Trump responded by firing the head of his agency, Chris Krebs.
NEWS CONFERENCE THURSDAY
SIDNEY POWELL, Trump attorney: “President Trump won by a landslide.”
THE FACTS: Two fabrications in one short remark.
Biden won. Needing 270 electoral votes to prevail, he has 306 and Trump has 232.
There was no landslide. Trump’s 306 electoral votes in 2016 did not make up a landslide win and Biden’s victory was not a landslide, either. But it was a comfortable and unassailable victory. And although it doesn’t matter in the outcome, Biden also leads the popular vote by nearly 6 million. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by about 3 million.
POWELL, on Dominion Voting Systems electoral software used in many states: “One of (the software’s) most characteristic features is its ability to flip votes. It can set and run an algorithm that probably ran all over the country to take a certain percentage of votes from President Trump and flip them to President Biden.”
THE FACTS: That didn’t happen. There’s “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised,” said the federal agency that oversees election security, in the statement joined by state and electoral-industry officials.
Against that, Powell offered the baseless allegation that it “probably” did.
POWELL: “The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic technology software, and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election after one constitutional referendum came out the way he did not want it to come out.”
POWELL: “Smartmatic has been associated with the Venezuelan government led by Hugo Chavez, which is openly hostile to the United States.”
THE FACTS: To be clear, Chavez is not leading the Venezuelan government because he is dead, He died in 2013.
As well, Dominion does not have any ties to Venezuela, according to Eddie Perez, a voting technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonpartisan election technology research and development nonprofit. Dominion was founded in Canada. The company says it is a competitor with Smartmatic, not a partner.
Smartmatic is incorporated in Florida by Venezuelan founders. The company states on its website that it’s not associated with governments or political parties of any country.
POWELL: “What we are really dealing with here and uncovering more by the day is the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.”
THE FACTS: No such communist chicanery has been uncovered. The election security branch of Trump’s Homeland Security Department said the election was secure against foreign interference and all forms of mass manipulation.
POWELL, on reports that a U.S. voting server is in Germany: “That is true, it’s somehow related to this but I do not know whether good guys got it or bad guys got it.”
THE FACTS: No, it’s not true. Powell is referring to a fictitious story that a server hosting evidence of voting irregularities in the Nov. 3 U.S. election was in Germany.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas this month circulated the rumor that “U.S. Army forces” seized a server from a Frankfurt office, though he acknowledged it was something he saw on Twitter and “I don’t know the truth.” The Army said the claim was false.
Still, Powell presented the bogus story as fact.
Swenson reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Jude Joffe-Block in Phoenix and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck