Fact check: Trump responds to Jan. 6 committee subpoena with usual election lies
Former President Donald Trump was subpoenaed Thursday by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Trump’s response: his usual election lies.
In a rambling 14-page letter to committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, Trump did not say whether he would comply with the subpoena. Instead, he repeated various long-debunked election claims.
Here is a non-exhaustive fact check of some of Trump’s claims in the letter.
Trump’s title on the document was this: “THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2020 WAS RIGGED AND STOLEN!”
Facts First: This is false. The 2020 election was not rigged or stolen. Joe Biden was the legitimate winner, Trump the legitimate loser. There is no evidence, in any state, of fraud even close to sufficient to have changed the outcome.
Trump listed purported evidence of wrongdoing in swing states he lost. One of his claims about Pennsylvania, which Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, was this: “In Pennsylvania, as of February 2021, there were 121,240 more votes than voters.”
Facts First: This is false. Pennsylvania did not have more votes cast in the 2020 election than it had registered voters; the state had about 7 million votes cast and about 9 million registered voters, for a turnout of about 76.5%. And Trump was also wrong if he was repeating the claim that the state counted more votes in the 2020 election than it counted voters who participated in that election. This claim, which was based on a Republican state legislator’s misreading of state data that wasn’t complete at the time, was repeatedly debunked in 2020 and 2021.
Trump made a dramatic claim about Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa County, where Republicans conducted a sham partisan “audit” of the 2020 election. He wrote: “Maricopa County accepted at least 20,000 mail-in ballots after Election Day 2020, including 18,000 on November 4, 2020, picked up from the U.S. Postal Service—more than the entire Election margin of 10,457 ballots.”
Facts First: This is false. As Reuters has reported, this claim, which has circulated among Trump supporters on social media, is based on a misinterpretation of a document that does not actually show that Maricopa County accepted any ballots after Election Day, let alone thousands of ballots. The document was a receipt for transfer of ballots to a company that scans the ballot envelopes, capturing voters’ signatures, as part of the process of the county verifying the signatures.
Runbeck chief executive Jeff Ellington told Reuters in June: “These 18,000 ballots were received on Election Day prior to the deadline to cast a vote and delivered to Runbeck the next day for processing, following our standard operating procedure.”
Trump returned to a favorite conspiracy theory about a particular county in Michigan, another swing state he lost to Biden. After claiming that one of his allies, Republican attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno, “found voting machines were subverted and accessed remotely,” Trump continued: “In Antrim County, 7,048 votes were changed in favor of Joe Biden.”
Facts First: No votes were changed in Antrim County because of voting machines being subverted, and there is no evidence of any intentional wrongdoing of any kind in the county. Rather, the conservative county made a human error in readying its election technology. The error resulted in some votes for Trump being initially reported as votes for Biden in unofficial preliminary results. The error was rapidly corrected, long before any results were made official, and a Republican-led investigation of the 2020 election by a Michigan state Senate committee concluded that “that ideas and speculation that the Antrim County election workers or outside entities manipulated the vote by hand or electronically are indefensible.”
As for DePerno’s efforts to prove something nefarious happened in Antrim County, the committee also wrote this in its section on the Antrim County situation: “The Committee closely followed Mr. DePerno’s efforts and can confidently conclude they are demonstrably false and based on misleading information and illogical conclusions.” DePerno and others are now under investigation by a special prosecutor over their own alleged efforts to gain access to election technology after the election; DePerno has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the accusations are politically motivated.
Trump insinuated, as he has before, that he lost Georgia in part because of nefarious doings in Fulton County, home to Atlanta. He wrote that an investigator reported 1,200 ballots being “‘wheeled in through the back door’ days after Election Day, when President Trump’s massive lead ‘shrunk as more votes continue to be tallied in Fulton County.’”
Facts First: This is deceptive. The independent monitor who was hired by the state election board to observe the election in Fulton County did not report any sign that these ballots were fraudulent; in fact, he wrote in his report that “at no time did I ever observe any conduct by Fulton County election officials that involved dishonesty, fraud, or intentional malfeasance,” though he did find sloppiness and other issues. Rather, he simply wrote that, although “it was a judgment call,” he thought the “optics” of bringing ballots through a back door two days after Election Day were poor and that this was “the wrong call for transparency purposes.”
Also, contrary to the impression Trump left here, the monitor did not connect this particular group of ballots to Trump’s illusory lead in Georgia shrinking. The words “shrunk as more votes continue to be tallied in Fulton County” appear to be a quote from CNN – which explicitly pointed out at the time that Trump’s shrinking lead wasn’t the result of anything nefarious – and not the monitor himself.
This story has been updated.