Trump and Surrogates Escalate Election-Rigging Rhetoric

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Sign of the times.Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump continued to claim that the election was rigged over the weekend, with surrogates Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Jeff Sessions also joining the fray.

Trump stepped up his accusations of vote tampering, saying at a rally on Saturday that “it looks to me like a rigged election. The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president.”

Trump tweeted on Saturday:

And again on Sunday:

Now Trump surrogates and high-profile supporters are beginning to join in.

Newt Gingrich called the election a “coup d’état” perpetrated by the media Sunday on This Week. “Fourteen million citizens and private ballots picked Donald Trump, 20 TV executives have decided to destroy him,” he said. On Saturday, speaking in New Hampshire to a crowd of Trump supporters, Alabama senator Jeff Sessions also claimed that “they are attempting to rig this election.”

But it was Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani who was most outspoken. “I’m sorry, dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans,” the former New York mayor said on CNN’s State of the Union. “You want me to (say) that I think the election in Philadelphia and Chicago is going to be fair? I would have to be a moron to say that.”

Giuliani added: “I’ve found very few situations where Republicans cheat. They don’t control the inner cities the way Democrats do. Maybe if Republicans controlled the inner cities, they’d do as much cheating as Democrats do,”

Not all Republicans are thrilled with this new talking point. A statement released by House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office on Saturday read, in part, “our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Mike Pence said that the Trump campaign will accept the results of the election (though, earlier in the interview he said many Americans feel the election is being “rigged by a national media”):

We will absolutely accept the results of the election. Look, the American people will speak in an election that will culminate on November the 8th. But the American people are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here, Chuck.

Trump’s comments — he has also called the election “one big fix” and “one big ugly lie” — have caused consternation and concern among election officials and civil-rights groups. They worry that at the very least his comments could depress voter turnout, especially among Republican voters. At worst, they could lead to voter intimidation and violent conflict after the election if Trump supporters refuse to accept the results.

Some Trump supporters are already openly discussing the possibility of a violent insurrection, and last week two armed men held a pro-Trump demonstration in front of a Democratic congressional candidate’s office in Virginia.

According to the New York Times, the decentralized nature of voting in the United States makes widespread voter fraud basically impossible. Plus, in many battleground states, it will be Republican officials who oversee the voting — officials who are extremely unlikely to want to see a Clinton presidency.

Trump has not provided any evidence that this election is anything but fair.