Debunked: Trump’s false claims in letter to January 6 panel | Donald Trump

After last week’s January 6 hearing, in which the committee investigating the attack laid out its most comprehensive case against Donald Trump, the former president released a lengthy response full of recycled disinformation and unverified – and unverifiable – claims.

With a majority of Republicans in this year’s midterms denying or questioning the results of the 2020 election that Trump lost, it’s clear that the GOP has built a core part of its ideology around misleading, inaccurate and outright false assertions. The Guardian decided to fact check each of Trump’s claims in the appendix of his document. What is noticeably absent are any mentions of Dominion, the voting machine manufacturer that filed a $1.7bn lawsuit against Fox for “intentionally and falsely” blaming the company for Donald Trump’s loss.

Here’s what we found.

Arizona

Maricopa County accepted at least 20,000 mail-in ballots after Election Day 2020, including 18,000 on November 4, 2020, picked up from the U.S. Postal Service – more than the entire Election margin of 10,457 ballots.

A document uploaded to Facebook showing the delivery receipt of ballots in Maricopa county
A document uploaded to Facebook showing the delivery receipt of ballots in Maricopa county. Photograph: Screengrab/Facebook

This disinformation comes from a screenshot of a receipt that allegedly shows late ballots being accepted by the Maricopa county elections department. However, as Megan Gilbertson, communications director of the Maricopa elections department, told Reuters, “All of those envelopes were received by the elections department prior to the 7pm statutory deadline.” The receipt shows a document recording the transfer of ballots to a vendor for verification.

A study of early ballot envelope signatures identified 229,430 mismatched signatures in Maricopa County. Officials only reported 25,000 mismatches, or 1.3%.

It’s unclear where this number came from, but a lot of the misinformation around absentee ballots ignores the signature curing process, the five-business-days period when a voter can correct a signature issue by contacting the elections department. This process helps explain why the county reported only 587 “bad signatures” out of the 1,918,463 counted.

The Arizona Forensic Audit of Maricopa County identified numerous anomalies, fraud, and Election law violations that are determinative, including 17,322 duplicate absentee ballot envelopes, which surged after the Election.

Maricopa county’s January report debunked the audit, saying, “The thousands of ‘duplicate’ early ballot envelope images that EchoMail claimed were “anomalies” have a simple answer. As voters cure signature issues, the elections department takes another image of the envelope. Only one ballot was counted for each envelope.”

Between November 4th and November 9th, scores of mail-in ballot duplicates emerged. 96% of the ballots that came in on two of these days were duplicates.

The term “duplication” is used to describe a very specific process of re-copying ballots that can’t be read by tabulation machines for various reasons. For example, if election workers are unable to verify a signature but are able to cure it by contacting a voter, that same envelope is re-scanned after being stamped for approval. More duplicates were created during this time period because that’s when the most absentee ballots were received.

Auditors discovered evidence that millions of files of General Election data and security logs were deleted, with purges taking place on critical days, including the day before the audit began on February 2, 2021. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors admitted they purged the system and moved Election data after they received a subpoena.

The auditors frequently misunderstood what they were looking for and oftentimes couldn’t find information that had been provided. According to the county’s report (pg 21), “In some cases, the items that contractors could not find were items the Senate did not subpoena and therefore wouldn’t have. In other cases, the ‘missing’ data was exactly where it was supposed to be, as proven by copies of the EMS server and images that the county cloned prior to providing those materials to the Senate.” The county says that all data was archived per standard policy, that it still has the EMS databases, software, and files from the November 2020 General Election, and that all ballot images were saved and can be opened without issue.

Another analysis by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai in Pima County found significant anomalies with mail-in ballots. In precincts with anomalous high turnout (over 92%), mail-in ballots started flipping from 6% Republican for Biden to 40% of Republicans voting for Biden, which is highly suspect.

The Pima county misinformation has been debunked by Benny White, a Republican who used to sit on Pima’s election accuracy and certification board and who was the party’s 2020 nominee for county recorder. “There were always more DEM ballots being returned than REP ballots except for a couple of days in late October and those that were received at the polling place on election day and counted after the election,” White wrote. “For Trump’s claim to be true DEM voters and non-partisan (PND + IND) voters would have to be voting for Donald Trump. That did not happen in any great numbers in Pima county.”

Two precincts in Pima had over 100 percent turnout for mail-in ballots– which is impossible–and 40 precincts had over 97% returned.

Per White, “The highest voter turnout (percent of mail ballots returned) was Precinct 186, which is about evenly ballots DEM/REP with 276 early ballots returned (96.17%).The highest overall (early +polling) turnout precinct was Precinct 145 where there were 4,596 early ballots returned and 362 voters went to the polls for a 94.0% voter turnout in that precinct.”

The audit discovered numerous State Election laws were broken in the 2020 Presidential Election, including A.R.S. 16-547, A.R.S. 16-548, A.R.S. 16-550, A.R.S. 16-551, A.R.S. 16-552, A.R.S. 16-621, A.R.S. 16 Articles 1, 1.1, and 2. 8

The Arizona supreme court affirmed a lower court ruling challenging the integrity of the election, “conclud[ing], unanimously, that … the challenge fails to present any evidence of ‘misconduct,’ ‘illegal votes’ or that the Biden Electors ‘did not in fact receive the highest number of votes for office,’ let alone establish any degree of fraud or a sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the election results”. You can find a full debunking of the audit’s many inaccuracies and misleading statements here.

2,500 duplicated ballots created from a damaged ballot had no serial numbers, a violation of A.R.S. 16-621.

Per the county’s report, “The accuracy and completeness of Maricopa county’s duplication process was confirmed in court (Ward v Jackson) where the court ordered a random sampling of 1,626 of the more than 27,000 duplicated ballots that, because of damage or for other reasons, had to be duplicated by bipartisan duplication teams. The court found that the duplication process was reliable, with only a very small number of duplication errors, none of which affected the election outcome and are not evidence of fraud.”

1,919 mail-in ballot envelopes were missing signatures, a violation of A.R.S. 16-547. Maricopa county reported 1,455 “no signatures” on mail-in ballot envelopes.

According to the Arizona Mirror, “There are bipartisan special election boards that personally bring ballots to voters who are in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, or who live at home but need assistance voting for various reasons. Technically, those voters are casting early ballots, which are placed into early ballot envelopes with their signatures. Some of those voters have physical difficulties signing, and some even sign with an X.

But because the boards must check their identification, as would happen with an in-person election day voter, those ballots bypass the signature verification process entirely and wouldn’t even have an approval stamp.”

To this day, Maricopa County has never provided chain of custody documents for all Election equipment and ballots, in violation of A.R.S. 16-621 E. At least 740,000 ballots violated chain of custody requirements in Maricopa County.

It isn’t clear which ballots Trump is referring to, but Cyber Ninja’s report made inaccurate claims about chain of custody violations. Per the county’s report, the company “incorrectly state[s] that the county commingled original ballots with duplicated ballots. This is not accurate. All 14 batches listed in the Cyber Ninjas report were tabulated ballots and did not contain any original ballots that were sent to duplication. Cyber Ninjas further claim that both the original ballot and the duplicated ballots must be stored separately. This is also not accurate. There is no statutory requirement to store tabulated ballots in separate boxes – whether that ballot was duplicated or not.”

Georgia

43,907 ballots from Facebook-funded drop boxes were counted in DeKalb County that violated the chain of custody rules. Remember, Georgia was decided by 11,779 votes.

In December 2020, a rightwing news outlet wrote that, “DeKalb county cannot find chain of custody records for absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes”. However, the county just needed more time to produce the documents. And as experts clarified, even if the chain of custody rule had been violated, the ballots were still valid.

Poll workers were caught scanning ballots multiple times on camera in Fulton County. Ballot images confirmed at least 3,390 duplicate votes were counted for Joe Biden.

A rightwing group claimed it “found at least 36 batches of mail-in ballots with 4,255 total extra votes were redundantly added into Fulton county audit results for the November election. These illicit votes include 3,390 extra votes for Joe Biden, 865 extra votes for Donald Trump and 43 extra votes for Jo Jorgenson,” the Libertarian candidate. While the Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed that nearly 200 Fulton county ballots had been scanned twice, the double-counting was discovered in a recount and there is no indication Biden earned any additional votes in the official results.

In all, the roughly 5m ballots cast in Georgia were counted three times, including once by hand. The hand recount uncovered more than 2,600 uncounted votes, most of which favored Trump, in Floyd county, Georgia. But election officials said the mistake was due to human error, not voter fraud. In the end, the certified results showed Biden beating Trump by 11,779 votes in the state.

At least 10,300 illegally cast votes in Georgia (and up to 35,000) are from individuals who voted in the wrong county, more than necessary to “tip the 2020 results.”

A Gateway Pundit article erroneously claimed that a 19 April report from an organization called Look Ahead America found 12,547 illegal ballots cast in Georgia, exceeding Biden’s margin of victory of 11,779. The summary recycles claims that are “nothing but innuendo and speculation”, said Ari Schaffer, spokesperson for the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top election official. There is no evidence or data behind these claims.

Brad Raffensperger’s own investigator in Fulton County reported ballots were “unaccounted for.” He witnessed at least 2,800 ballots that “came in mail carts instead of black ballot bins,” violating chain of custody, and reported 1,200 ballots that were “cured” and “wheeled in through the back door” days after Election Day, when President Trump’s massive lead “shrunk as more votes continue to be tallied in Fulton County.” The investigator also found “identical vote tallies repeated multiple times” that “likely resulted in about 1,000 extra votes being tallied” for Joe Biden.

CNN reported: “The independent monitor who was hired by the state election board to observe the election in Fulton county did not report any sign that these ballots were fraudulent; in fact, he wrote in his report that ‘at no time did I ever observe any conduct by Fulton county election officials that involved dishonesty, fraud or intentional malfeasance’, though he did find sloppiness and other issues. Rather, he simply wrote that, although ‘it was a judgment call’, he thought the ‘optics’ of bringing ballots through a back door two days after election day were poor and that this was ‘the wrong call for transparency purposes’.”

A week after this private memo was sent to him, Brad Raffensperger falsely claimed publicly the Election results were “trustworthy” and “sound,” when he knew they were not.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post on 21 November, Raffensperger wrote, “Georgia’s voting system has never been more secure or trustworthy.”

Raffensperger was told of numerous irregularities on a video conference call with Republicans after the 2020 Election, that put “the outcome of the Election into doubt.” including an admission from an Elections Board Member in Gwinnett County that, “We have way more ballots than we have envelopes. I don’t think it was done right.”

Gwinnett is the only county in the state that must produce ballots in both Spanish and English. As USA Today explains, “Every Gwinnett county resident therefore receives of a ballot consisting of two sheets of paper – one in English and one in Spanish – and either one, or both, are returned to the county. Regardless, federal law requires the county to count both sheets in its election summary result.”

Hundreds of votes were taken away from “Trump” after Election workers altered ballots that were rejected by voting machines. “Trump” votes were thrown out, while spoiled ballots were unlawfully counted for Joe Biden.

Georgia’s ballots were counted three times. Per the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, “First, a hand recount of every ballot was done using each voter’s printed ballot. The recount uncovered about 6,000 ballots that had not originally been counted. After the hand recount, Biden’s margin of victory shrank by about 500 votes out of more than 5m ballots cast statewide. Then, in response to Trump’s request for a recount, election officials tallied ballots a third time. The final machine recount produced similar results as the prior two counts, with Biden winning by 11,779 votes.” There is no evidence that Trump votes were thrown out or invalid Biden ballots were counted.

During the hand recount, tally sheets were falsified showing unanimous vote counts for Joe Biden, including 100-0 and 200-0 fraudulent counts.

During the hand recount, Biden’s lead was reduced by more than 1,200 votes.

Michigan

Officials in Detroit illegally blocked Republican poll challengers’ access, covered the windows, called the police, and denied lawful challenges in order to count ballots in secret.

According to the state, there could be no more than 134 people a party or independent organization in Detroit’s convention center while ballots were counted. When officials realized that they were well over that number, they stopped admitting both Republicans and Democrats.

After poll workers who were outside the convention center began taking pictures and videotaping the counting process, ballot counters said they felt intimidated, so security placed paper over the windows, causing challengers to bang on the glass even harder.

Affidavits and video evidence show thousands of ballots being delivered through a back door of the then-named TCF Center at 3:30 a.m. on Election night. The RINOs in the State Senate confirmed this also in their report analyzing the 2020 Election, and said a “large volume” of ballots were delivered to the TCF Center with no chain of custody. Those ballots came from drop boxes.

This disinformation is linked to two sources, one illegitimate and the other not. The former is a video purportedly catching a man wheeling in “suspicious” equipment to the TCF Center. It was actually a WXYZ photographer loading his camera and other gear into a wagon for work.

The second is a report from the state senate. It confirms that ballots were delivered at 3.30am but notes that this fact “does not constitute actual evidence on its own. Those drawing such conclusions in their affidavits and testimony were asked to provide proof that something illegal actually occurred but no proof that ballots were fraudulent was provided or found by the committee.”

Matt DePerno found voting machines were subverted and accessed remotely.

Matt DePerno, the Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for attorney general in the state, did make claims that voting machines were accessed remotely, but according to the same state senate report, the committee “can confidently conclude they are demonstrably false and based on misleading information and illogical conclusions”. DePerno is now the subject of a criminal probe related to his efforts to “prove” election fraud.

In Antrim County, 7,048 votes were changed in favor of Joe Biden.

Election administrators made a simple error that added votes to Joe Biden’s total. It was caught and quickly corrected.

In Pennsylvania, as of February 2021, there were 121,240 more votes than voters. By law, Pennsylvania cannot certify an Election with this type of discrepancy.

About 6,115,000 Pennsylvanians voted in 2020. A little over 9 million were registered, meaning the turnout rate was almost 77%. This disinformation likely comes from incomplete data released by Republican state Representative Russ Diamond and several others, who used it to question “how the results of the presidential election could possibly have been certified by secretary of the commonwealth”.

A lawsuit filed in Delaware County revealed video evidence of Election officials discussing destroying Election evidence from November 2020. “It’s a felony,” one official says after talking about the need to “get rid” of voting “pads and second scanners.” Videos and sources involved in the litigation say the Delaware County officials “violated numerous Election laws and needed to hide evidence,” and that the destruction of records was “done to ensure records eventually provided actually matched the Election results that were reported in Nov. 2020.”

While the lawsuit is real, Delaware county district attorney Jack Stollsteimer concluded there was no merit found to the claims.

Attorney General Bill Barr ordered U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain to stand down and not investigate Election irregularities, even after McSwain reported that his office “received various allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities.”

Barr sent a memo on 9 November authorizing US attorneys around the country to “pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities”, and a spokesperson for Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro says his office never received any referrals from McSwain. “This personal note to President Trump, sent seven months after the election, is the first our office has heard of Mr McSwain’s concerns,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If he was aware of allegations of voter fraud, Mr McSwain had a duty to report and, as he knows, our office investigates every referral and credible allegation it receives.”

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, nearly 200,000 voters identified as “indefinitely confined,” even though that was often not the case. They were simply using COVID as a means to skirt Voter ID laws for mail-in ballots.

Voters in Wisconsin can declare themselves as “indefinitely confined” and cast an absentee ballot without providing a photo ID, which would otherwise be required. In 2020, the number of people taking that option rose from 57,000 in 2016 to about 215,000, consistent with pandemic voting trends.

In December 2020, the Wisconsin supreme court made two rulings. One of them stated it was up to each voter to determine whether they met the requirements for being “indefinitely confined.”

These ballots should have been thrown out.

The second decision was that ballots would not count if voters falsely claimed they were indefinitely confined, but that decision would have to be made on a case-by-case basis.

After the 2020 Presidential Election, a judge ruled the Democrat Governor did not have legal authority “to exempt all voters to get an absentee ballot without an ID.”

44,272 people, according to the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, voted in November 2020, without ever showing Voter ID, which is more than twice the vote margin in the State.

This could be in reference to the Milwaukee county and Dane county clerks, who advised voters that they could qualify as “indefinitely confined” and request an absentee ballot because of the pandemic and a statewide stay-at-home order. After the Wisconsin supreme court ruled that it was up to each voter to determine for themselves whether they were “indefinitely confined,” the clerks rescinded that advice.

While that number is real (pg 164), those 44,272 were considered “indefinitely confined” and weren’t required to show ID.

The Wisconsin Election Commission ordered nursing homes to violate Election laws,

Because of Covid, the bipartisan WEC unanimously voted to change the rules for the 2020 primary election. Instead of sending special voting deputies to nursing homes, election offices could mail absentee ballots to residents who requested them. In addition, the commission lifted the rule on facility staff assisting residents with their ballot. For the general election, the WEC voted 5-1 to extend the rule change.

leading to widespread voter fraud and 95 to 100% turnout in nursing homes–an impossibility!

This stat likely comes from the much-debunked report by former Wisconsin supreme court justice Michael Gableman, who supposedly analyzed nursing home turnout data in five Wisconsin counties. It isn’t true. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, nursing home turnout was about 72% overall, in line with the turnout rate for the state as a whole.

In a powerful ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, drop boxes that were used in the 2020 Election were found to be illegal. In a concurring opinion, justices stated, “If elections are conducted outside of the law, the people have not conferred their consent on the government. Such elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate.”

In a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin supreme court ruled that most drop boxes could not be used moving forward – not that they were illegally used in the 2020 election.