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In this July 15, 2020, file photo Attorney General William Barr, left, speaks with President Donald Trump during a a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP) In this July 15, 2020, file photo Attorney General William Barr, left, speaks with President Donald Trump during a a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP)

In this July 15, 2020, file photo Attorney General William Barr, left, speaks with President Donald Trump during a a law enforcement briefing on the MS-13 gang in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 29, 2021

In attack on Bill Barr, Trump repeats falsehood about 2020 election

If Your Time is short

  • Trump’s claim that the election was not legitimate is contradicted by mounting evidence from election experts. No evidence has emerged to reverse the election results in any state.
  • A June report by a Republican-led state Senate committee in Michigan found no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud. 
  • Trump’s claims are based on distortions and mischaracterizations.

In an excerpt for his upcoming book, ABC reporter Jonathan Karl recounts interviewing Bill Barr, the U.S. attorney general who fell out of favor with former President Donald Trump. 

Before the election, Barr echoed Trump’s falsehood that voting by mail was associated with "substantial fraud." After the election, however, Barr told the Associated Press he had not seen fraud on a scale that would invalidate Joe Biden’s victory.

Barr’s "conclusion sent a definitive message that the effort to overturn the election was without merit," Karl wrote in an excerpt published in The Atlantic June 27.

That same day, Trump issued a statement claiming that Barr "failed to investigate election fraud, and really let down the American people."

Barr and other Republicans "are being used in order to try to convince people that the election was legitimate when so many incredible facts have now come out to show conclusively that it wasn’t," said a Trump statement issued by his Save America political action committee.

A Facebook post sharing Trump’s statement was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Trump pushed a false argument of a stolen election even before Election Day in November. Trump is still wrong in claiming that "facts have now come out to show conclusively" that the 2020 election was illegitimate. 

No evidence has emerged to reverse the election results in any state.

"Any such evidence would be earth-shattering," said Matthew Weil, an election expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "And the fact it hasn’t materialized more than six months after the voting stopped indicates that the election was legitimate and secure."

Trump cites debunked claims about swing states

Trump’s PAC did not respond to a request for comment, but his statement included as evidence allegations about fraud in swing states. Here’s a sampling of those allegations, along with the facts and context:

  • "101,789 ‘obsolete’ voters on the rolls in Georgia, including 18,486 dead people." Trump is distorting Georgia’s plan for routine cleanup of voter rolls. Under federal law, states need to update their voter rolls, and they often do so in odd-numbered years. Most of the people flagged for removal in Georgia have moved, and some have died. The state’s top election official said "there was no record" that any of the dead individuals cast a ballot in the 2020 or January runoff elections.

  • "Nearly 200,000 illegal ‘indefinitely confined’ votes in Wisconsin’ violated Voter ID law." This is a misrepresentation of the facts. A Wisconsin law allows voters to declare themselves as "indefinitely confined" and then cast an absentee ballot without providing a photo ID.

  • "‘Massive’ chain of custody problems with drop boxes in Georgia, missing hundreds of thousands of records for months after the election." This debunked claim stems from a report by Georgia Star News, a pro-Trump publication, that requested chain of custody forms that show the movement of ballots in the state. Fulton County didn’t provide all the forms to Georgia Star News, but later provided almost all the forms to Georgia Public Broadcasting, an NPR affiliate.

Federal and state election officials have said the election was legitimate

The most recent evidence affirming that the 2020 election was legitimate came from Republicans in Michigan, a state that Trump won in 2016 and lost in 2020.

"The committee found no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud in Michigan's prosecution of the 2020 election," said a June report by the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee, chaired by a Republican. "Citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan."

Featured Fact-check

The 55-page report debunks multiple claims of election fraud or irregularities pushed by Trump.

State and local government officials elsewhere also have defended the integrity of the election in their states. Nationwide, election officials, including some in Trump’s administration, affirmed that the 2020 election was "the most secure in American history." 

Results affirmed by courts, audits done by election officials

Nationwide, about 90 judges ruled against Trump or his allies in election cases, including 38 judges appointed by Republican presidents, according to a  Washington Post analysis.

"Not one court found any fraud that could come close to altering the outcome in any state," David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, told PolitiFact.

There were more audits of paper ballots after the 2020 election than after any other election, Becker said. Georgia, for example, counted its ballots three times, three different ways, with observers from both parties, and all audits confirmed that Biden won, Becker said.

In Arizona, state Senate Republicans organized a review of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County. Those findings are expected this summer. But election experts have criticized the review as partisan and amateurish.

The Maricopa County review "does not meet the standards of a proper election recount or audit," said an evaluation of the ballot review by Trey Grayson, former Republican Kentucky secretary of state, and Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist. 

They concluded that "because it lacks the essential elements of a bona fide post-election analysis, the review currently underway in Maricopa County will not produce findings that should be trusted." 

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — four of whose five members are Republicans — called the review a "circus." They said the county’s election was "free and fair and conducted by the elections department with integrity and honor."

Our ruling

Trump said, "facts have now come out to show conclusively" that the 2020 presidential election wasn’t legitimate.

No such facts have emerged. Trump’s claims are based on distortions and mischaracterizations. His claims of a rigged election started even before the results were known.

The election was legitimate, as affirmed by experts on elections, including Republicans, and officials who served in Trump’s administration, as well as local and state bodies that certified the results. Multiple audits and court cases also have reached the same conclusion. 

We rate Trump’s statement Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Trump’s Pants on Fire distortion about Georgia’s voter rolls

RELATED: Michigan Republican-led investigation rejects Trump's claim that Nov. 3 election was stolen

RELATED: Trump falsely implies Arizona audit has exposed fraud

RELATED: Trump lost. Yet the 2020 election falsehoods live on in Arizona

RELATED: Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results

Our Sources

Save America PAC, Statement, June 27, 2021

The Atlantic, Inside William Barr’s Breakup With Trump, June 27, 2021

Washington Post, Bill Barr wants his legacy to be his mumbled opposition to Trump on fraud, not his shouted agreement, June 28, 2021

Washington Post, From a presidential commission to Trump-nominated judges, here’s who has rebuked Trump’s voter fraud claims, Jan. 3, 2021

Washington Post, Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger, Jan. 5, 2021

Associated Press, Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud, Dec. 1, 2021

Associated Press, AP FACT CHECK: Barr raises voter fraud specter, China threat, Sept. 1, 2020

CNN, Fact-checking William Barr: Is your vote no longer secret with mail-in ballots? Sept. 12, 2020

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, Statement about election, Nov. 12, 2021

States United Democracy Center, Report on the Cyber Ninjas Review of the 2020 Presidential and U.S. Senatorial Elections in Maricopa County, Arizona, June 22, 2021

Washington Post The Fact Checker, Trump’s baseless claim about ballot drop boxes in Fulton County, Ga. June 22, 2021

New York Times, The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud, Nov. 19, 2020

PolitiFact, Donald Trump says Joe Biden can only win by a 'rigged election.' That's wrong in several ways, Aug. 24, 2020

PolitiFact, No, court did not rule 200,000 Wisconsin ballots were illegitimate, Jan. 6, 2021

Email interview, Matthew Weil, director of Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project, June 28, 2021

Email interview, David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, June 28, 2021

Email interview, Trey Grayson, former Kentucky’s Secretary of State and member, Frost Brown Todd LLC and managing director, CivicPoint, June 28, 2021

Email interview, Lorraine Minnite, Rutgers University associate professor of public policy, June 28, 2021


 

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In attack on Bill Barr, Trump repeats falsehood about 2020 election

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