Former President Donald Trump's false and thoroughly debunked claims of widespread voter fraud did not start with the 2020 presidential election. After winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote in 2016, Trump falsely claimed — with zero evidence — that "millions of people" had illegally voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Trump, on November 27, 2016, tweeted, "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." And Trump has claimed that during the 2018 midterms, he sent FBI agents to Florida to prevent "ballot theft" in Broward County. Doing so, Trump claimed, saved Republican now-Gov. Ron DeSantis from losing to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum.
But according to NBC News reporter Lewis Kamb, the FBI is saying that it has no record of Trump sending FBI agents to Florida to stop "ballot theft" in 2018.
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Kamb, in an article published by NBC News' website on March 14, reports, "In a letter dated March 6 and received this week by NBC News, the FBI wrote that it had searched its Central Records System but was 'unable to identify records' in response to a reporter's Freedom of Information Act request seeking any records related to Trump's claims. The FOIA request was submitted a day after Trump, on November 10, (2022), described how he delivered a 2018 election win to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis by having the FBI intervene to stop election fraud in Broward County."
Florida's 2018 gubernatorial election was quite close. Gillum, a former Tallahassee mayor, lost to DeSantis by less than 1 percent, and a recount confirmed DeSantis' narrow victory. But Florida's next gubernatorial race was not close at all.
DeSantis was reelected by 19 percent, defeating Democratic nominee Charlie Crist (a former Republican and ex-Florida governor). Overall, Democrats performed much better than expected in the 2022 midterms, but in Florida, they suffered a major shellacking (to borrow a word famously used by President Barack Obama following the red wave of the 2010 midterms).
DeSantis' reelection landslide made him even more of a rock star in the far-right MAGA movement. And Trump responded by posting, on his social media platform Truth Social, "(After) the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen."
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But Kamb emphasizes that Trump "did not support" those voter fraud claims "with any evidence."
"After Trump's comments in November," Kamb reports, "a spokesperson for the Broward County Elections Office told the Tallahassee Democrat that the office had 'no documentation of any federal law enforcement presence during the 2018 elections.' As part of its FOIA request, NBC News asked the FBI to expedite its search for records. The FBI later agreed to do so, writing in a letter in February that the request warranted the expedited search because it involved a 'matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence.'"
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Read NBC News' full report at this link.