CNN Presidential Historian: Trump's Rigged Election Claim Is “Bogus” And “Anti-American At Its Core”

Douglas Brinkley: "What Trump Is Saying Is Disingenuous And Anti-Historical”

From the October 17 edition of CNN's New Day

Video file

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): In our 240 year history, have we had rigged presidential elections and how hard would it be to rig a national presidential election? 

JULIAN ZELIZER: We've had corruption. In the 19th century there was a lot of corruption in different states and different cities. There's been controversies when elections were contested and decided in Congress, which was in 1824. But it's virtually impossible in 2016 to rig an entire election. It's decentralized. It's fragmented. And there's very little evidence that this could happen. 


CAMEROTA: OK. So let's unpack some of that, because that's what they're out on the campaign trail saying. So Professor Zelizer, what about what Newt said, that no serious historian doubts that Illinois and Texas were stolen. What's your response? 

ZELIZER: Well, actually, that's not true. In 1960 in Illinois, there's a lot of evidence that Republicans stole tickets -- stole votes downstate, so in some ways it would balance out. And in Texas it's also unclear that it threw the election. There were actually recounts in Illinois in 1960. And they didn't find that there was enough fraud to throw the election. So it's an undetermined issue but historians don't agree that the election was thrown that way. 

CAMEROTA: Douglas, what about what Rudy said there, that from his own experience, with his own election, that he saw people being bused in to places where they shouldn't have been voting. 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well that's Rudy's own experience, I wasn't there. What I can tell you is there is voting suppression and irregularities all throughout American history. I mean the whole story of the South was voter suppression, having Jim Crow laws, voter literacy tests. Jimmy Carter first ran for Senate in Georgia on a rigged election. They brought out a cemetery vote when he ran for state senator. He challenged in the court and got it reversed. So history's replete with illegal things going on during elections. But at this point in the 21st century, to make the grandiose statement like Trump is that the election is rigged is bogus. It's anti-democratic spirit, it's anti-American at its core. That there may be problems in some cities we've got to watch, we're going to have to have more watchdogs out there, yes. But what Trump is saying is disingenuous and anti-historical. 


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