Donald Trump’s claim that the election was rigged is nothing new. He made that claim BEFORE the election. In fact, that’s been his schtick for years. ABC News put together a nice summary of Trump's history of calling elections rigged. We can't directly see Trump's tweets where he complained about the election being rigged since he lost his Twitter account due to repeated lies about the election and his continuing threat to our democracy. But we can do the next best thing. There is a Trump Twitter Archive where we can see the remnants of his tweets, if not the tweets themselves.
Trump complained that the 2020 election was going to be rigged more than five MONTHS before the actual election. What follows is a partial list of Trump's claims that the election would be rigged, followed by Trump's standing in national polls as compiled by FiveThirtyEight at the time that he made those statements.
Tweet, May 24, 2020: "The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple!"
Poll: Biden was leading by 5.8% on May 24
Video (starting at 2:02) July 30, 2020: "I don't want to see a crooked election. This will be the most rigged election in history if [mail in voting] happens."
Poll: Biden was leading by 8.3% on July 30
Video and The Hill article: August 17, 2020: ". . . the only way we're going to lose the election is if the election is rigged. Remember that. It's the only way we're going to lose this election. . . . The only way they're going to win is that way, and we can't let that happen."
Poll: Biden was leading by 8.4% on August 17
Politico article: August 24, 2020: "The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election."
Poll: Biden was leading by 9.3% on August 24
Tweet by NBC Correspondent, Vaughn Hillyard, see also the next video: September 12, 2020: “It’s a rigged election. It’s the only way we’re going to lose.”
Poll: Biden was leading Trump by 7.6% on Sept. 12.
Politico article: September 13, 2020: “The Democrats are trying to rig this election because that’s the only way they’re going to win.”
Poll: Biden was leading Trump by 7.3% on Sept. 13.
Tweet by Matthew Gertz with a video from Fox & Friends: September 15, 2020: “I’m winning that state easily but the one thing they can’t beat, if they cheat on the ballots. Now he [the Democratic Governor of Nevada] will cheat on the ballots, I have no doubt about it.” (See 5:10 - 7:53 of the following video).
Poll: Biden was leading Trump by 7.0% on Sept. 15.
Newsweek article with embedded videos: September 25, 2020: We're going to win. We're not going to lose this except if they cheat that's the way I look at it. We can't let them cheat. . . . Our country is at stake and it's true. . . . Because these people will destroy our country. We can't let this happen and this is a scam. They know it. The media knows it, but the media doesn't want to cover it. They know exactly what's going to happen, and so do I. But the Democrats know better than all of us what's going to happen. . . . it's very hard to watch, millions of ballots, very hard to watch. That's the only way we're going to lose is if there's mischief. Mischief and it'll have to be on a big scale."
Poll: Biden was leading Trump by 7.2% on Sept. 25.
Now, if you haven't already done so, take a look at the graph on FiveThirtyEight illustrating Biden's and Trump's relative positions in the polls between March 2020 and the election. Something should jump out at you. Biden was ALWAYS in the lead. His lead ranged from 3.4% in March to over 10% in October. Clearly the polls were wrong--they overestimated Biden's lead. And maybe Trump knew that, either through internal polling or through his gut instinct. It would have been hard to fault Trump had he said, "I don't think the polls are right. The race will be a lot closer than the polls indicate. In fact, I think we are going to win."
Most people would have doubted this claim, but it was within the realm of possibility. However, that is not what Trump said. Trump supposedly looked at this data and said that the ONLY way Biden could have won was if he cheated. This might have been a reasonable thing for Joe Biden to have said about Donald Trump, given Biden's consistent lead. But it was an insane claim for someone who was consistently behind to make BEFORE the election without strong evidence.
But who knows? Maybe Trump had some inside information that Biden was going to cheat that wasn't apparent to the rest of us.
The Democrats-are-cheating/Stop-the-Steal movement actually started before May 2020. It started WAAAAAY before May 2020. And it didn't start against the Democrats.
Donald Trump tweeted the following on Feb. 3, 2016, after he lost the 2016 Iowa caucus to Ted Cruz:
Roger Stone had set up a website called Stopthesteal.org for Donald Trump in March 2016. That's not a typo. And fortunately, the internet Archive made snapshots of this website starting in March 2016. The first posting on March 10, 2016 was a fundraising campaign based on the premise that Trump was investigating over 600 votes that had been cast for Trump but tallied for Marco Rubio in Texas. The Trump Ballot Security Project supposedly found hundreds of more questionable ballots around the nation, including double voting by supporters of Ted Cruz.
Stone launched an all-out assault against Cruz during his nearly 15-minute April 2, 2016 interview with Breitbart News. Here is Breitbart's teaser, but I recommend listening to the entire interview which can be found at the bottom of this article.
“Having worked very hard to collect evidence of voter fraud and irregularities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, Hawaii and Texas, frankly, they ought to put the handcuffs on him,” said Stone, referring to Ted Cruz, “because the Trump people can go to credentials and challenge the seating of hundreds, literally hundreds of Ted Cruz’s delegates who were fraudulently elected.”
Asked to elaborate, Stone said, “Go to StopTheSteal.org. For over a month we have had an 800 number up, a toll free number. We have collected and documented with sworn affidavits thousands of claims of voter irregularities in the states where Ted Cruz has won. And we’re prepared to present them to the credentials committee.”
“If they want to fight, let’s fight,” Stone continued. “Ted Cruz’s delegates in Texas were fraudulently elected. There are thousands of examples of voter fraud. That means people voted for Donald Trump, but their vote was counted for Ted Cruz. Thou shalt not steal, Ted,” said Stone. “You’re a big bible man, Ted, read that one carefully. Thou shalt not steal. That’s why I call him tricky Ted,” concluded Stone.
But Trump did more than just insinuate that Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz was trying to steal the Republican nomination from him. He flat out accused Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell of being in a conspiracy to steal the nomination away from him. Here is an excerpt from the July 9th post.
The Big Steal from Donald J. Trump is on- and only you can stop it.
The Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction has united and is moving into high gear to steal the nomination from Trump. The immediate plan is an all-out bid to deprive Donald Trump of victory – and to steal the delegates to defeat him. We have seen the will of the voters who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump thwarted by Republican Party bosses in Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona, and now in Indiana where party leaders are stacking the delegation with anti-Trump hacks even before the voters in that state have voted. But that is only part one of the BIG STEAL.
Even if Donald Trump secures 1237 commitments on the first ballot, the anti-Trump forces are stealing a majority on questions of rules and Credentials. By placing anti-Trump Republicans in the Trump delegate seats (so called Trojan Horse delegates) they plan a rules change that will unbind the delegates. Because they have stacked the Trump delegate seats with ringers, this crucial vote comes before the first ballot for President. If passed the Trump delegates will no longer be bound by party rules to vote for Trump. Anti-Trump quislings are being planted in various delegations that will be free to betray Trump, regardless of the will of the voters. This is the BIG STEAL.
Of course, after Trump won the Republican primaries, the Stopthesteal website turned its attention to Hillary Clinton. Here, for example, is an excerpt from their October 28 post.
Donald Trump thinks Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are going to steal the next election. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” he told a campaign rally last week.
The issue is both voter-fraud and election theft through manipulation of the computerized voting machines. The truth is both parties have used these DIEBOLD/ PES voting machines to rig results of elections at the state and federal election. The party in power in a given state controls the programming of the voting machines. . . .
We now know, thanks to the hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee that the Clintons had to cheat and rig the system to steal the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders. Why wouldn’t they try to steal the election from Donald Trump?
If this election is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT.
The Washington Post even ran an editorial saying it was “impossible” to steal an election. Then, incredibly, Barrack Obama called Donald Trump’s concerns about a rigged election “ridiculous.”
Plus they intend to flood the polls with illegals. Liberal enclaves already let illegals vote in their local and state elections and now they want them to vote in the Presidential election.
And even after he beat Clinton in 2016, Trump STILL accused the Democrats of rigging the election. Beating Clinton in the electoral college wasn't enough for Trump. Clinton beat Trump by 2.8 million votes in the popular vote count, and Trump could not abide by this. So without a scintilla of evidence, Trump claimed Clinton won 3 - 5 million votes through voter fraud. If you took away the illegal votes from Clinton's total, he would have won, he claimed. How 3 - 5 million people could have voted illegally without it being noticed by a large number of election officials is beyond me. That doesn't seem like an easy thing to hide. But Trump wanted to get to prove his claim, so he set up a special election commission to find and investigate all the alleged voter fraud. The commission was quietly disbanded in 2018 when it found no evidence of widespread fraud.
It is clear the Stop-the-Steal movement isn't a grassroots movement that developed as a response to Biden stealing the election. Accusing his opponents of stealing the election is Trump's modus operandi. He used it as a pre-emptive excuse against the Republicans in 2016 so he could blame THEM if he lost Republican primary. And he used it pre-emptively against Hillary Clinton so that he could blame her and the evil Democrats if he lost the general election in 2016. And you can bet his cries of "ELECTION FRAUD! ELECTION FRAUD!" would have been deafening had he lost in 2016.
Why is Trump so quick to blame everyone but himself for his losses? Mary L. Trump has a PhD in clinical psychology from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies. She is also Donald Trump's niece. She has met him. She has dealt with him in person. That means she isn't just an armchair psychologist speculating about him from a distance. Here is what she said when she was asked, "Do you believe that President Trump really believes he won this and is being cheated out of something, or is something else going on?"
It’s a great question, and it’s pretty complicated. Because on the one hand, it is impossible for Donald to believe that he lost. He’s lost before in his life, but he’s never had to be in a situation in which he can’t somehow turn that loss into a win, either through cheating or buying his way out of a jam, or using someone else’s connections and power. There’s literally nothing he can do about this, so it’s sort of unfathomable, because in my family, losing was literally the worst thing you can do. So it’s putting enormous amounts of pressure on him. So on the one hand he can’t admit it to himself because that would suggest that there’s no way for him to get out of this mess. So he’s going to continue to undermine people’s faith in our government and our institutions And again, it’s just another 48 days he has to keep taking a wrecking ball to the United States government.
Donald Trump cannot psychologically deal with a loss. He was always going to blame someone else for any loss he suffered. He was going to say the election was rigged no matter who he lost to and no matter how fair the election was. And in 2020 he had an incentive to blame his loss on the system being rigged that he didn't have in 2016. He now knew that he was facing multiple lawsuits and possible jailtime for crimes committed before and during his presidency. The only way out of his legal predicament would be to prevent Biden from becoming the president. And that is why he inspired, if not orchestrated the insurrection.
Update 12/25/21: Here is a highly recommended thread by Jennifer Cohn about Roger Stone, Trump's confidant who built the StopTheSteal website discussed in this article.
“It was Stone who reportedly persuaded Trump to bring…Paul Manafort into the 2016 campaign, & it was Stone who communicated with Wikileaks” b4 it “released emails that Russia had hacked from…Clinton’s campaign chair,” a sort of electronic Watergate. https://t.co/PGEA4In7GB
— Jennifer Cohn (@jennycohn1) December 25, 2021
Update 1/22/2022: Kaylan from Texas found three Trump tweets from 2012 claiming that Obama was stealing the election from Mitt Romney, as well as one tweet saying that Ted Cruz had committed fraud in the 2016 Republican primary. Click on the following tweet. Then click on each of the pictures attached to the tweet.
— Kaylan_TX (@Kaylan_TX) January 21, 2022
Of course, Trump’s original tweets are no longer available on Twitter because Twitter deleted Trump's account. You can click on the links below to visit the Trump Twitter Archive if you want to verify that the pictures that Kaylan attached to her tweet are accurate snapshots of the original tweets and not just Photoshopped spoofs.
November 6, 2012: This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!
Update 1/28/22 I added information from Roger Stone's April 2, 2016 interview with Breitbart News. I learned about this article from this thread by Jennifer Cohn. I highly recommend following her on Twitter.
“Roger Stone: ‘They Ought to Put the Handcuffs on’ Ted Cruz for Vote Fraud” 4/3/16 1/ pic.twitter.com/yNN8M2MzWY
— Jennifer Cohn (@jennycohn1) January 4, 2022
Cohn's thread also included a link to this priceless response by Ted Cruz in which he attacked Trump for inciting violence and compared him to a Mafia don.
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) February 13, 2021
Of course, it is understandable why Cruz was angry with Trump. Trump had attacked Cruz's wife just a few weeks before Cruz's attack on Trump. Trump would later insinuate that Cruz's father was somehow involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination. Despite all the insults, despite knowing that Donald Trump was a violence-inciting thug, Timid Texas Ted would eventually kiss the Emporer's ring and become Donald Trump's good little boy.
Update 3/4/22: The Washington Post just did an expose about Roger Stone that revealed that he viewed relaunching his Stop-the-Steal campaign in 2020 as a major opportunity to make money.
On Nov. 5, as vote counts in key states slipped away from Trump, Stone coordinated a response during a rapid-fire succession of calls. As the filmmakers drove him to his makeshift office space in a strip mall near his home, Stone told one associate to create an account for hunting election fraud on an encrypted email service to avoid surveillance.
Dictating text messages, Stone told an aide to resurrect his Stop the Steal campaign. He predicted to another aide that his brand was about to be “quite a bit hotter” as a result, adding, “We’re going to raise money from Stop the Steal — it will be like falling off a log.”
Update 4/10/22: By now you should be convinced that Trump would have accused ANYONE who had beaten him in any election--no matter who had beaten him and no matter how wide a margin he was beaten by--of stealing the election. And whether he intentionally planned it or not, by repeatedly predicting the election would be stolen from him, he was priming his base to believe his Big Lie if he lost in November. But just in case you aren't, we now have what one of the nation's premier Constitutional scholars, Laurence Tribe, called “a smoking rifle”. CNN reports that on November 5--two days before the vote counting was completed and before Biden was declared the winner--Donald Trump Jr. was already scheming how his Father could steal the election if he lost. "It's very simple," Junior texted Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, "We have multiple paths We control them all." Jr. then laid out multiple paths that Trump could use to remain president, despite the will of the people, including filing numerous lawsuits, having Republican states appoint fake electors, or having the House of Representatives elect the President. The Constitution mandates that if they House elects the President, it must do so by state count. . . i.e. each state gets one vote. And, as Jr. noted, "Republicans control 28 states Democrats 22 states. Once again Trump wins."
It is damning that these texts were sent before the Trump camp could have possibly had evidence that there was enough fraud to tilt a close race to Biden. But what Alyssa Farah Griffin told Jake Tapper was far more damning. Griffin was White House Communications Director on the day that Jr. sent those texts. She said,
The Trump campaign, and those senior advisors in the Trump White House, had access to internal poling that projected him losing. You know, poling, it's a science, but it's not always completely accurate, but the results of the election at that time, November 5, were not far off from what we had been predicting, with the exception of Georgia. But this just goes to shows that before the democratic process was underway or was even complete, they were thinking of what they could do to try to hold onto power.
See the following video--pay especially close attention starting at 3:15.
Update 4/17/22: The previous update shows that as early as November 5--two days before the vote count was completed-- at least some members of Team Trump were scheming to make sure Trump stayed in office, no matter what the election results were. The January 6th Committee just released letters written by Republican Senator Mike Lee and Republican Representative Chip Roy to Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows that reveal that as of November 7, Team Trump had bupkis for evidence that the election was stolen. Chip Roy wrote to Meadows that day saying, "We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend."
It is apparent from reading the emails that Lee and Roy wanted to help Trump retain power early on, but as time went on they soured on the idea. The evidence that Biden stole the election just wasn't there. And the states refused to send phony electors for Trump, thus preventing them from helping Trump retain power through backdoor "legal" maneuvering. (See Amanda Carpenter's excellent essay for more on Lee's role in attempting to overturn the election.) In the end, both Lee and Roy voted to certify Biden's win, despite their desire to see Trump reinstated. And on January 1, Chip Roy sent Mark Meadows a message that should be emblazoned on the web site of every Democratic candidate running against a Trump supporter:
We're driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.
Update: 4/10/22 (Yes, this update is out of order, but the two previous updates go toghether so well that I just had break the space-time continuum): Well, well, well. It seems like Donald Trump isn't the only boy who cried election fraud. I hope you will watch this fascinating video about Rudy Giuliani by iilluminaughtii. If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, then at least watch from 8:30 - 11:40. She reveals that when David Dinkins defeated Rudy Giuliani in the New York City's mayoral race of 1989, Giuliani responded by making baseless accusations against Dinkins of election fraud. And in what seems like foreshadowing of the January 6 insurrection, Giuliani was accused of inciting a riot by racist cops against Dinkins on September 16, 1992. Whether he was responsible for inciting the riot or not, he did not condemn it—leading to the impression that he supported it.
Now, you may be skeptical of Iiluminaughtii's claims because you don't know who she is. Fair enough. But she included snapshots from her sources, so I checked them out. This is from the New York Daily News.
Giuliani’s pattern of shaky voter fraud accusations dates back to his first mayoral bid, before he even secured the Republican nomination. In July 1989, he filed two challenges against the nomination petition signatures of his primary opponent, cosmetics heir Ron Lauder. Giuliani separately claimed that Lauder’s petition signatures for the Republican and Conservative Party ballot lines were largely fraudulent. The case went to court, where a special referee concluded that Lauder did not engage in the fraud Giuliani claimed, then a judge upheld Lauder’s petitions.
The 1989 general election was the next opportunity for Giuliani to make baseless fraud claims. According to Giuliani critic Wayne Barrett’s biography “Rudy!,” his election night party was “filled with ugly untruths about how blacks had stolen the election at polls in Harlem and Bed-Stuy, where the dead had supposedly voted by the thousands.” In the decades thereafter, Giuliani’s voter-fraud fable gained further details: people voted multiple times, unauthorized immigrants used fake documents to vote, and votes for David Dinkins were added to voting machines in advance.
As recently as 2016, Giuliani asserted on CNN, “When I ran for mayor of New York City the first time, some people voted eight or 10 times.”
Before January 6th, 2021, there was September 16th, 1992 -- a day that bore much in common with Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol.
A peaceful demonstration turned ugly. Thousands pushed past barricades and mobbed the seat of government -- in this case, City Hall in lower Manhattan. There was vandalism.
And firing up the crowd was Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani, then a candidate for mayor running on a law-and-order platform, gave a fiery speech to an enormous crowd of protesters that consisted largely of off-duty police officers. They’d gathered to protest then-Mayor David Dinkins and his plan for an all-civilian police oversight board.
“The reason the morale of the police department of the city of New York is so low,” Giuliani said, “is one reason, and one reason alone: David Dinkins!”
The protest devolved into mayhem, as rioters jumped on cars and blocked traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. On-duty officers did little to police the crowd, much like the scene Wednesday at the Capitol.
Then, as now, critics said Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney, was culpable.
Read Radley Balko's column in the Washington Post if you want to see just how racist and ugly the 1992 riot was. I'll spare you the details here. But note that not only did Giuliani refuse to apologize--he also tried to bury criticism of his role in the riot.
Giuliani never condemned the riots, the signs or the racist cops. He rode the wave of support from police and law-and-order voters into the mayor’s mansion. When his own campaign produced a report criticizing him for egging on the cops and then acquiescing to them after the fact, he ordered the report destroyed.
Update 4/30/2022: I just added a paragraph about Trump claiming that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 had Hillary Clinton not received 3 - 5 million illegal votes.