President-elect Joe Biden not only won the 2020 election with the same electoral college vote as President Donald Trump did in 2016, but he also scored over 5.5 million more votes. Yet, somehow Trump has crafted a way to turn this into both fraud and "winning."
The New York Times reported Sunday that for the better part of the last year, the current president has been working on trying to change losing the election into winning it.
The report began by noting that as Michigan ballots were being counted and Trump's posture changed to talk about lawsuits, Republican challengers watching the count in the room also changed.
"One witness, a nonpartisan observer, Julie Moroney, heard a Republican organizer say, 'Now we're going to challenge every ballot,'" the Times explained.
Suddenly, objections popped up. Accusations were flying about counters entering the wrong birth years or backdating ballots.
"What are you doing?" the Times cited a Republican observer challenging a ballot before he even saw it, according to a Democratic observer.
The Republican observer said, "I was told to challenge every one."
The Democratic observer, Seth Furlow, explained that white Republicans were challenging mostly the Black counters. None of the so-called "fraud" submitted in a lawsuit from President Donald Trump's team made it through a judge's conclusion.
"The various instances of supposed malfeasance were, in fact, well-established procedures for dealing with the peculiarities of data entry, the correction of minor errors and protocols for social distancing — all intended to ensure a careful and accurate vote count," reported the Times.
To Trump's supporters, however, it was a "crime scene." But it was part of a years-long plan from the beginning. "Obscured by the post-election noise over the president's efforts to falsely portray the election system as 'rigged' against him has been how much Mr. Trump and his allies did ahead of time to promote a baseless conspiracy devised to appeal to his most passionate supporters, providing him with the opportunity to make his historically anomalous bid to cling to power in the face of defeat," the report continued.
But the legal efforts are in the final throes as Trump's lawyers are running out of complaints they can take to court. That doesn't mean the president will stop his ongoing efforts to question the outcome of the election. He won in 2016 and still maintains that the election wasn't to be trusted either.
As the pandemic raged, Trump and his allies tried to create a conspiracy that voting by mail was fraudulent. States worked to conduct voter "purges" to remove people from the rolls. In Texas, for example, Republicans tried to remove 95,000 people with Hispanic last names from the voter rolls claiming they weren't really citizens. If they weren't, they wouldn't have been on the rolls, to begin with. Civil rights groups sued and won, keeping the voters safe, for now.
Trump also blocked any effort to make it easier to get an absentee ballot. To gum up the mail-in-ballot process, Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ushered in new rules to remove sorting machines under the guise that it would save money. When Democrats sought stimulus funds to ensure cost wasn't a factor in conducting the election safely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the bill, and Trump equated it to Democrats seeking to fund a "rigged" election.
In 2016, as Trump was heading into his first election, he was already teasing that the election would be "rigged." His long-time ally, Roger Stone, started the website "Stop the Steal," which looked for poll observers to dig up dirt on Democratic voters. Even after winning the election, Trump brought an election-security panel to find voter fraud among the "3 million illegal votes" he claimed Hillary Clinton won in 2016. They never could find them, and the panel was disbanded.
In 2019, Trump adviser Justin Clark met with Wisconsin Republicans "to emphasize just how important the state was to Mr. Trump’s prospects. He signaled how voter fraud allegations would be key to any Trump strategy in 2020," the Times said, citing an AP report.
"Mr. Clark explained how a ruling from a voter intimidation case against Republicans in New Jersey in the early 1980s had led to a longstanding judicial decree forbidding the Republican National Committee from sending and organizing poll watchers in elections. But that decree finally lapsed in 2018, which, Mr. Clark said, gave the national party a new ability to send challengers into polls in 2020 and coordinate in every battleground state."
By the time the November election came around this year, Trump had started a new campaign that the election should be called on Election Night, even if the ballots weren't all counted. States like Michigan and Pennsylvania tried to pass laws to allow clerks to count mail-in ballots before Election Day to have a tally sooner. Republicans wouldn't allow it and voted against the bill.
"They are planting stories that President Trump, he'll have a landslide lead on election night but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots," the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed in a Twitter video posted in late September. "Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election."
Republicans were amplifying the message calling ballot-counting fraud. Any ballots counted after Election Day was somehow illegal. However, the problem is that Trump tried to force lawsuits to stop votes from being counted when he was losing in states like Michigan and Arizona. So if the ballots stopped being counted, he would lose the election anyway.
While the Trump team created so much belief among their supporters that the election would be a fraud, their lawyers were clearly not prepared. According to MSNBC's legal experts, the filings were "trash" and "looked like it was written by an elementary school student." It ultimately led to Trump being laughed out of court and a slate of judges telling Trump officially that he has no case.