Trump’s Bogus Claim of ‘Election Interference’ and More

By D'Angelo Gore and Eugene Kiely

Posted on November 6, 2020

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In addition to baseless allegations of “illegal votes” in swing states, President Donald Trump used his relatively brief remarks — just 16 minutes long — during a Nov. 5 public appearance at the White House press room to make false allegations about election interference and other issues.

Election Interference

As we have written in a separate story, Trump leveled numerous false and baseless statements about counting the votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and other swing states.

But he also accurately listed several states where he has been declared the winner — only to falsely claim that those victories came “despite historic election interference from big media, big money, and big tech.”

Trump: I’ve already decisively won many critical states, including massive victories in Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, to name just a few. We won these and many other victories despite historic election interference from big media, big money and big tech.

The U.S. intelligence community has publicly identified three actors that it warned were trying to interfere in the 2020 presidential election: Russia, China and Iran — not “big media, big money and big tech,” as Trump falsely alleged.

Russia, of course, “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” to help elect Trump, as detailed in a report last year by special counsel Robert S. Mueller.

In the 2020 election, Russian agents were once again allegedly trying to help Trump. 

On Aug. 7, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina issued an “election threat update” that said: “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President [Joe] Biden.” The intelligence assessment also said that “[s]ome Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”

“For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party,” Evanina’s statement read.

On Sept. 10, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Derkach and three other Russian agents “for attempting to influence the U.S. electoral process.” Treasury described Derkach as “an active Russian agent for over a decade” who has been spreading “false and unsubstantiated narratives” since last year as part of a “covert influence campaign” against “U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election.”

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had worked with Derkach in an attempt to uncover material damaging to Biden in Ukraine. Giuliani told the New York Times he had “no reason to believe [Derkach] is a Russian agent.”

In addition to Derkach, Treasury sanctioned Russian nationals Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova — all employees of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian government online propaganda agency that played a major role in Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

On the same day Treasury announced its sanctions against the Russian agents, the Department of Justice announced that one of those sanctioned, Lifshits, had been charged with wire fraud conspiracy. Lifshits “serves as a manager in ‘Project Lakhta,’ a Russia-based effort to engage in political and electoral interference operations,” the Justice Department said. 

“Project Lakhta” was the name of the election interference operation, according to a 2018 indictment brought by the Justice Department against the IRA, two Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals who were accused of waging an extensive social media influence campaign to help Trump in the 2016 election against then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Aug. 7 election threat warning did not provide any evidence of covert operations by China or Iran, and it didn’t identify any specific individuals from those countries who were engaging in election interference. It did say that the intelligence community assessed that both countries preferred that Trump not win reelection. 

Of course, there was no mention in the threat assessment of election interference by “big media, big money and big tech.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a free press, and the Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. corporations and other outside groups can spend unlimited funds on elections.

Trump’s complaint about “big tech” refers to social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. For example, Twitter has repeatedly labeled Trump’s claims about the election process as misleading and has removed posts from conservative media outlets that have spread false or unsubstantiated information.

But that’s not election interference. The Mueller report documents in great detail what actual election interference looks like.

Congressional Races

Trump prematurely declared that Republicans maintained the Senate majority, and he falsely claimed Republicans didn’t lose any House races.

“We kept the Senate despite having twice as many seats to defend as Democrats, and in a really much more competitive states. We did a fantastic job with the Senate,” Trump said. “Yet for the first time ever, we lost zero races in the House.”

It’s not set in stone that Republicans will retain control of the Senate. The Associated Press has called only 31 out of the 35 Senate races.

Even if Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Dan Sullivan of Alaska hang onto their leads, that means the GOP will keep at least 50 seats.

But in Georgia, we already know the race for Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat will go to a runoff in January. In the same state, the race for Republican Sen. David Perdue’s seat may as well, if neither Perdue nor Democrat Jon Ossoff get 50% of the vote. As of 6 p.m. on Nov. 6, Perdue had 49.8% of the vote to Ossoff’s 47.9%.

So, it’s still possible for Democrats to regain control of the Senate — if they win at least two of those four races and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris becomes vice president. As vice president, Harris would serve as president of the Senate and would be able to break any 50-50 Senate votes.

As for the House, it’s true that the GOP is projected to pick up more House seats, on net, shrinking the Democratic majority. But Republicans didn’t hold on to all of the seats they were defending.

In North Carolina, two Democrats, Deborah Ross and Kathy Manning, are projected to win seats currently held by Republicans who decided not to run for reelection. In the next Congress, Ross will represent the 2nd Congressional District and Manning will represent the 6th Congressional District. The Republican-led state Legislature was required to redraw both districts last year, which made those districts more favorable to Democrats.

Also, in Georgia, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is the projected winner in the race for the 7th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Rob Woodall. The AP said, “It’s the first time a Democrat has won the seat since Buddy Darden lost to Republican Bob Barr in the 1994 GOP takeover of the U.S. House, and reflects the rapidly diversifying population of the district.”

Major Donors

Trump also sought to portray national Republican donors as “everyday citizens,” and Democratic donors as “special interests.” In fact, both parties accept large amounts of money from wealthy individuals, companies and special interest groups.

Trump: At the national level, our opponents’ major donors were Wall Street bankers and special interests. Our major donors were police officers, farmers, everyday citizens.

The two top contributors to Trump and the political committees supporting him were Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who combined gave $75 million to Preserve America, a pro-Trump PAC. Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions, while candidate campaigns are limited to accepting individual contributions of no more than $2,800 for each election (primary and general).

Top contributions to the Trump campaign were employees of the federal government, American Airlines, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Delta Air Lines, Bank of America, Walmart and Lockheed Martin, to name a few.

It is true that the Biden campaign ($937.7 million) and outside political committees that supported him ($442.9 million) raised nearly twice as much as the Trump campaign ($595.6 million) and outside political committees that supported him ($267.9 million), according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

But neither party can raise billions of dollars if their “major donors” are everyday citizens.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson were the top donors in the 2020 campaign cycle, giving more than $180 million in all to Republican campaigns. After the Adelsons, Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, was the second largest political donor this campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bloomberg gave a total of $107 million to Democratic causes, including more than $50 million to help the Biden campaign and outside political committees that supported him.

Biden also benefited from the largesse of such major donors as billionaire hedge fund executives Donald Sussman, founder of Paloma Partners, and James H. Simons, founder of Renaissance Technologies. 

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