MSNBC hosts: Trump may have plotted from the beginning to craft a conspiracy
Former US President Donald Trump, pictured in Florida on September 11, 2021, saw his bogus fraud claims debunked by courtrooms, state governments and Congress across the United States (AFP/CHANDAN KHANNA)

The evening after the second public House Select Committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Congress and the 2020 election, MSNBC hosts cited a clip of Rep. Liz Cheney's (R-WY) comments that could indicate some of Donald Trump's early plots to overthrow the election.

"The president understood even before the election that many more [Joe] Biden voters had voted by mail because President Trump ignored the advice from his campaign experts and told his supporters only to vote in person," said Cheney. "Donald Trump knew before the election that the counting of those mail-in ballots in several states would not begin until late in the day, and would not be complete for multiple days. This was expected, reported, and widely known. You will also hear testimony that President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night. And instead, followed the course or recommendations by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani, to just claim he won, and insist that the vote counting stop."

Long before the election, Trump was claiming that the election was going to be rigged. A new piece of information that was revealed Monday is that Trump advisers testified they came together and told Trump that he needed to stop telling his supporters that the election would be rigged.

Many of the people who typically vote by mail are elderly, white voters. They are Republican voters. The last thing campaign manager Bill Stepien and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wanted was to reduce the number of GOP voters. Trump insisted that vote-by-mail was a fraud and he wouldn't be persuaded.

"His mind was made up," Stepien said.

This problem was the subject of a Monday night episode of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.

"They told him what he was doing, that cost him votes, would lessen the chances they would win the election,' Maddow repeated.

"He nevertheless kept saying it. He had already decided he would claim the election was rigged. He was told that talking smack about mail-in votes, as a way of trying to say the election was rigged, is something that would hamper his ability to win the election. He, nevertheless, stuck with that mind."

Maddow questioned if it is then possible that Trump wanted to try and stay in office by declaring the election was rigged than by winning outright.

"Maybe, the point was to make the election itself irrelevant, as to whether or not he stayed in power," said Maddow. "I think it's hard to get away from that this is a potential — this observably, it is one of the things that Trump could have potentially built his strategy around. And it actually might be easier to cheat, easier to declare a fraud than to win, because it seems like it was set on both of these elements of that claim, before the votes were ever cast."

Guest Joy Ann Reid said that it wasn't a mistake. Until recently, analysts talked about Trump as if he didn't get politics and didn't understand that his voters were using mail-in voting.

"This suggests it wasn't an error. This suggested that he had a deliberate scheme to reduce mail-in ballots, the perception of it being a legitimate form of voting on purpose," Reid said. "To that point, he wanted to be able to end the states are very late and slow in county votes, namely Pennsylvania, maybe places like Wisconsin. And also, let's not forget these are states that also expanded the opportunity for mail-in balloting because of the pandemic. So, they were using it more."

What was once a method of voting used by primarily Republican voters was suddenly being used more by people of color and younger voters.

"So, it seems like — why would you want to stop them from being able to use it? Oh, wait, in the pandemic, younger, browner, blacker voters are now the ones who are pushing to these early mail-in voting," she continued. "And he just invalidated and get his little racial charge in there."

Chris Hayes noted that in the lead-up to the election, he and many other political analysts, hosts and experts talked about how election night was going to take forever because of the mail-in ballots. It was as if the crime was foretold, he said, because Trump had been saying for months that the election would be rigged and he wouldn't accept the results. He then essentially worked to polarize a voting method.

"Which, by the way, has persisted the primary to bizarre and almost insane degree, right? There is no like substantive reason that voting methods should be polarized, but he has polarized voting methods," said Hayes. "He polarized the voting method, and we all spent months saying this will happen. They will count same-day votes first. It will look very different for Donald Trump. The mail-in ballots will come in later. In some places like in Pennsylvania, the Republican legislature has sabotaged the vote counting, so they can't count it ahead of time. It's gonna take a really long time. We said all of this. He knew that. We knew it. Then, it happened on that night. And he went on to declare victory like, it all looks like it was all set up from the beginning."

Nicolle Wallace recalled that one of the last things that happened on the weekend before the election was that the overnight tracking polls showed Trump was behind in Pennsylvania. Trump then called on FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to say that there is the potential for election interference.

"So, we're focused on the way that he was calling it rigged, but it wasn't the only thing that he suggested," said Wallace.

See the full conversation in the video below:

Trump's plot from the beginning