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Fact check: 10 of the lies Trump used to try to overturn his Georgia defeat


By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election was built on lies.

Beginning on Election Night in November 2020 and continuing into 2023, Trump has delivered a relentless barrage of false claims about what happened in Georgia. These claims ranged from vague proclamations that he actually won the state to specific conspiracy theories that were previously debunked.

Here is a look at 10 of the inaccurate things Trump has said.

Falsely claimed he won Georgia: In his speech on Election Night, Trump falsely claimed it was “clear that we have won Georgia” – even though it was actually clear at the time that the result had not been determined and that it was possible for Joe Biden to surpass Trump in the ongoing count.

Trump continued to falsely claim he had won Georgia even after the finalized count showed that Biden had won the state by 11,779 votes – including during the January 2, 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump pressured Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes.”

Falsely claimed there were tens of thousands of underage voters: Trump falsely claimed at a Georgia rally in early January 2021 that “66,000 votes in Georgia were cast by people under the legal voting age.” There is no basis for this figure. Raffensperger has said the actual number of underage voters in the 2020 presidential election was zero.

Falsely claimed there were thousands of dead voters: Trump falsely claimed in 2021 that thousands of Georgia ballots in the 2020 election were cast in the names of dead people. He claimed in the January 2021 call with Raffensperger that “a minimum is close to about 5,000 voters.”

That number, too, is not even close to accurate. Raffensperger said in 2022 that Georgia officials had found just four such cases.

When the Trump campaign identified specific deceased Georgians the campaign claimed had phony ballots cast in their names, its claims quickly fell apart under scrutiny. For example, CNN spoke in November 2020 to one of the legal Georgia voters the Trump campaign had incorrectly named as a dead voter. The living voter happened to have the same name as a dead person.

Falsely claimed election workers had stuffed ballot boxes: Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed that election workers in Fulton County, home to Atlanta, had been caught on video perpetrating a “scam” and “illegally” scanning ballots from suitcases hidden under a table. Trump continued into 2023 to falsely claim that these workers had been caught “stuffing the ballot boxes.”

These claims had been debunked by December 2020, by Raffensperger’s office and others, and a state investigation later formally cleared the two workers in question of any wrongdoing. “All” of the allegations against the workers “were unsubstantiated and found to have no merit,” said the investigation report, which was released in 2023.

Richard Donoghue, who served as Trump’s acting deputy attorney general, previously said in congressional testimony that he had told Trump directly that claims about supposed wrongdoing by the workers were false and that, as Raffensperger’s office had repeatedly said, the video depicted election workers doing their jobs.

“The president kept fixating on this suitcase that supposedly had fraudulent ballots and that the suitcase was rolled out from under the table. And I said, ‘No sir, there is no suitcase.’ You can watch that video over and over. There is no suitcase. There is a wheeled bin where they carry the ballots, and that’s just how they move ballots around that facility,” Donoghue testified to the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “There’s nothing suspicious about that at all. I told him that there was no multiple scanning of the ballots…”

Falsely claimed hundreds of thousands of votes were mysteriously dumped into the count: In December 2020, Trump falsely claimed that Georgia was one of multiple states where “a series of massive and statistically inconceivable vote dumps” took place “in the middle of the night” on Election Night.

He said on the call with Raffensperger that “anywhere from 250-300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls.”

In reality, there was nothing inconceivable, mysterious or illegal about what happened in the wee hours of election night. All that happened was that counties kept counting votes as normal and adding them to the public totals as normal.

Because some populous urban counties (which heavily favored Biden) took more time to finish their counting than some small rural counties, and because some states counted mail-in ballots (which were largely used by Biden voters) last, the vote totals in some states – but not all – shifted toward Biden as the counting continued. Media outlets explained before Election Day that such a shift was likely; there was nothing confusing about it.

Falsely claimed thousands of votes were “flipped” to Biden: Trump tweeted in early January 2021: “‘Georgia election data, just revealed, shows that over 17,000 votes illegally flipped from Trump to Biden.’” He appeared to be citing One America News Network – but, regardless, this supposed vote-flipping simply did not occur.

Cited false Dominion conspiracy theories: Trump claimed on the call with Raffensperger that “in other states, we think we found tremendous corruption with Dominion machines but we’ll have to see.” He also claimed there was a “rumor” that Dominion Voting Systems was trying to quickly remove its machines in Georgia.

None of these allegations were true, as Raffensperger’s team told Trump. Claims about fraud and corruption involving Dominion had already been thoroughly debunked, including in an unequivocal November 2020 statement signed by the Trump administration’s own election security arm. The statement said, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In April 2023, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion more than $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit over the network’s promotion of false claims about the company.

Falsely claimed signature verification was prohibited: Less than two weeks after the election, Trump falsely claimed that a March 2020 legal settlement agreement signed by Raffensperger had made it “impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc.” Trump made a similar claim to Raffensperger in their call, saying that, under the legal agreement, “You can’t check signatures.”

In fact, the agreement did not forbid signature verification in Georgia – and signatures were indeed verified in the 2020 presidential election. The agreement merely laid out the process for checking signatures and said that elections officials had to quickly contact voters whose ballots had been rejected in order to give them a chance to “cure” errors.

Falsely claimed ballots were illegally shredded: In the call with Raffensperger, Trump falsely claimed that Fulton County and “other areas” were “shredding ballots.” He declared: “They are shredding ballots, in my opinion, based on what I’ve heard.” He also said, “They’re shredding ballots. And you should look at that very carefully. Because that’s so illegal. You know, you may not even believe it because it’s so bad.”

Wrong again. Ballots from the 2020 election had not been shredded, as Raffensperger’s team explained to Trump on the call.

Some of the social media chatter about shredding in Georgia was based on the fact that Cobb County’s elections department had shredded various unimportant materials that were not ballots; other “shredding” chatter was centered around benign images of unremarkable and unfilled backup ballots that counties had kept on hand in case of problems with voting machines.

Falsely claimed 100,000 ‘bad’ votes were deleted: In a speech in July 2021, more than eight months after the election, Trump falsely claimed there is “so much evidence” of fraud in the 2020 election and claimed that, on a recent day, “They deleted in Georgia over 100,000 votes – they said because they were so bad, voters.”

No Georgia votes were “deleted.” Rather, Raffensperger had announced in June 2021 that, as part of the process of keeping the voter rolls up to date, 101,789 “obsolete and outdated” voter registration files would be removed from the rolls. Registration files are not actual votes, maintenance of the rolls is normal, and Raffensperger did not say anything about these voters was “so bad.” The majority of the voter files that were removed were for people who had submitted change of address forms to the postal service.

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