AP FACT CHECK: Trump sticks to election falsehoods on Jan. 6
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump and his allies on Thursday clung to false claims about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as the nation marked the one-year anniversary of the violent insurrection.
Reacting to President Joe Biden, who blamed him for the deadly event, Trump issued statements repeating his assertions that the voting was rigged. Those claims have been thoroughly debunked.
In a speech marking the anniversary, Biden said Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election fueled the riot. Biden said the election was the most scrutinized in U.S. history, and that the riot was an un-American attempt to derail democracy incited by a politician who couldn’t accept the people’s will.
A look at the claims:
TRUMP, on the Biden administration: ““That’s what you get when you have a rigged Election.”
TRUMP: “In actuality, the Big Lie was the Election itself.”
THE FACTS: To be clear, no widespread corruption was found and no election was stolen from Trump.
Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump had when he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, which he repeatedly described as a “landslide.” (Trump ended up with 304 electoral votes because two electors defected.) Biden achieved victory by prevailing in key battleground states.
Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, found no evidence of widespread election fraud. Trump’s allegations of voting fraud also 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.
No case has established irregularities of a scale that would have changed the outcome.
An Associated Press review last month of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by Trump found fewer than 475 — a number that would have made no difference in the presidential election.
Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and their 79 Electoral College votes by a combined 311,257 votes out of 25.5 million ballots cast for president. The disputed ballots represent just 0.15% of his victory margin in those states.
TRUMP: “Does anybody really think that Biden beat Obama with the Black population in select Swing State cities, but nowhere else? That he would ... somehow miraculously receive the most votes in American history with no coattails?”
THE FACTS: It’s not unrealistic that Biden won 81 million votes in an election where turnout exceeded the mark set by the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama. Voter participation in the Nov. 3, 2020, election, in fact, was the highest in more than a century, according to the Census Bureau.
The tallied votes accounted for over 66% of the eligible voting-age population in the U.S. That’s the highest since 1900, before all women were allowed to vote, according to the United States Elections Project.
The sheer number of votes also set records, although that’s a less remarkable milestone given the country’s growing population. Biden’s more than 81 million votes was the highest number for a presidential candidate in history. Trump received more than 74 million — the highest total for a losing candidate.
Biden’s total surpasses the 2008 record of 69.5 million votes cast for Obama. Biden was also on that ticket as Obama’s running mate.
Election experts and partisans point to various factors accounting for the rise in civic participation. Some note that higher turnout was expected after many states expanded the time and the ways voters could cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, while others cite the extraordinarily high passions Trump provoked — both for and against — in an election that amounted to a referendum on his leadership.
TRUMP: “Biden ... used my name today to try to further divide America.”
THE FACTS: Biden did not cite Trump by name in the speech. Instead, he referred to him throughout as the “former president.”
REP. MATT GAETZ: January 6 “may very well have been a fed-surrection. ... I do not believe that there would have been the same level of criminal acuity but for the involvement of the federal government.” — news conference with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., in Washington that focused on the Capitol riot.
GAETZ: “What if those Capitol police officers are victims … what if they are victims of an orchestrated effort by the FBI or other federal law enforcement to increase the criminal acuity of that day?”
THE FACTS: The suggestion by Gaetz, a Florida Republican, as well as other conservatives in recent weeks that the FBI may have orchestrated the Jan. 6 riot is baseless.
Gaetz appeared to be referring to an article in Revolver News, a fringe news site founded by a former speechwriter for Trump, that argued because many “unindicted co-conspirators” listed in the Jan. 6 federal charging documents were not charged, they could actually be undercover FBI agents or federal informants.
That theory doesn’t hold up and there’s no evidence the unnamed conspirators are FBI agents or informants. Legal experts and federal case rulings in fact have made clear that government agents and informants cannot be described under the law as conspirators to a crime.
In truth the rioters are just who they said they were — Trump supporters.
During testimony last year before Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked whether there was any reason to believe the insurrection was organized by “fake Trump protesters.”
“We have not seen evidence of that,” said Wray, who was appointed by Trump.
Klepper reported from Providence, Rhode Island. Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
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