Conspiracy theorists who have supported and worked with Donald Trump are taking a victory lap after the Republican nominee began pushing the conspiracy theory that the general election might be “rigged” to favor Hillary Clinton.
Amid a disastrous week for his campaign, Trump has recently been alleging that the fix might be in for November’s election. During a rally in Ohio earlier this week, Trump warned attendees, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the election ... there’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election, meaning the election is rigged. I would not be surprised.” He went on to say that “If you don’t have voter ID, you can just keep voting and voting and voting.”
Trump also told Sean Hannity that “we’d better be careful because that election is going to be rigged,” noting that “been hearing about it for a long time.”
Where Trump had likely “been hearing about” the “rigged” election theory is from his conspiracy theorist allies Roger Stone and Alex Jones, who have repeatedly warned that the November election might be stolen.
Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, has been publicly pushing Trump to raise the issue of election fraud, telling The Milo Yiannopoulos Show, “I think we have widespread voter fraud, but the first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about it constantly.” He added, “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.”
As Right Wing Watch noted, Stone also raised the specter of a stolen election during an appearance on Jones’ show, claiming Clinton could potentially “steal this election” with the help of the Supreme Court “now that Scalia has been taken care of.”
Stone previously floated the idea that the Republican nomination would be “stolen” from Trump and created an effort called “Stop the Steal” to “stop the Republican establishment from stealing the Presidential nomination from Donald Trump.” He also threatened to “disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal.”
Politico spoke to Stone, who reportedly was “pleased Trump was seemingly following his outside advice.” Stone told them, “You have to inoculate early on this. You have to educate people to the fact that this is a real possibility.”
Stone is a conspiracy theorist who wrote a book accusing the “Bush Crime Family” of backing the attempted assassination of President Reagan, alleged that President Lyndon Johnson was involved in the murder of John F. Kennedy, and said that the Clintons were responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.
He has also previously speculated that a staged “international incident” could be used to cancel the presidential election, adding, “I think they’re capable of anything, including martial law.”
ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum pointed out that “the reality is that Roger Stone is currently running Trump’s campaign,” noting that “Stone has Trump's ear and is controlling the message. The things Trump says is the heart of his campaign.” He concluded, “We are now observing what happens when a fringe conspiracy theorist and hatchet man controls the message of a major campaign for Prez.”
Infowars, the website of 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, noted that Trump was “echoing sentiments expressed by Alex Jones” with his comments about a “rigged election,” and that “Trump’s comments mirror Alex Jones.”
On July 30, Jones posted a video titled “An Emergency Message to Donald Trump,” asking the candidate to begin pushing the narrative of a rigged general election. A few days after the video was published, Trump began making his comments about the conspiracy theory.
Discussing the speech on his radio show, Jones noted the similarities between it and his “emergency message” and remarked that Trump “sees the same thing we see.” Jones also objected to Media Matters connecting Trump’s warning about a “rigged” election to Jones’ video, saying the candidate “doesn’t need me or Roger Stone to tell him all this. He knows it”
Trump has appeared on Jones’ radio show and praised his “amazing” reputation. In turn, Jones has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign and said the candidate was “totally synced” with the conspiracy theory movement in his convention acceptance speech.