A graphic showing Trump unhappily crossing his arms while being yelled at through a megaphone, with a ballot box in the background

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Third Trump indictment lays out key election lies also spread by right-wing media

Conservative media figures and outlets, led by Fox News, helped to drive the main scheme Trump relied on to overturn the 2020 presidential election. They have now also begun a frantic effort to defend him in public, declaring his most recent federal criminal indictment the end of American democracy, attacking Department of Justice officials involved in Trump’s prosecution, and even trying to relitigate the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him. 

Even some of the identifiable co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment are lashing out in response and using right-wing media to double down on the lies that led to this criminal proceeding against the disgraced ex-president.

The indictment identifies six specific lies that were “integral” to Trump’s “criminal plans to defeat the federal government function, obstruct the certification [of votes], and interfere with others’ right to vote and have their votes counted.”

  • “The Defendant insinuated that more than ten thousand dead voters had voted in Georgia.”
  • “The Defendant asserted that there had been 205,000 more votes than voters in Pennsylvania.”
  • “The Defendant said that there had been a suspicious vote dump in Detroit, Michigan.”
  • “The Defendant claimed that there had been tens of thousands of double votes and other fraud in Nevada.”
  • “The Defendant said that more than 30,000 non-citizens had voted in Arizona.”
  • “The Defendant asserted that voting machines in various contested states had switched votes from the Defendant to Biden.”

Each of these specific lies was amplified and promoted by the Trump-aligned conservative media echo chamber, with Fox News and Fox Business leading the way.

  • Conservative media helped spread Trump’s lie that thousands of dead voters in Georgia had cast ballots

  • According to the indictment, “The Defendant insinuated that more than ten thousand dead voters had voted in Georgia. Just four days earlier, Georgia’s Secretary of State had explained to the Defendant that this was false.” 

    Election officials in the state debunked claims that several specific deceased residents had voted in the election, which had spread widely on Facebook. And an investigation revealed that many other voters Trump's team claimed were dead were actually alive, with just four absentee ballots returned by relatives after the voters had died.

    Right-wing media helped spread these claims:

    • Then-Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell: “We don't even have the data yet from everybody who voted on election day to be able to see how many dead people voted, how many people voted who -- who voted in Georgia as well as voted in another state.” Fox News anchor Jon Scott introduced Mitchell as “something of an election law expert” and asked her, “Do you see glaring evidence of fraud, or errors, or anything else on the horizon there that could deny Joe Biden the White House?” Mitchell replied, “It’s not over,” and highlighted problems in Fulton County before saying: “We don't even have the data yet from everybody who voted on election day to be able to see how many dead people voted, how many people voted who -- who voted in Georgia as well as voted in another state.” [Fox News, Fox News Democracy 2020: Election Coverage, 11/7/20]
    • Then-Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed deceased voters cast ballots in Georgia. Carlson dedicated one of his show’s opening monologues in the days after the election to promoting this lie: “Fewer than 15,000 votes separate Donald Trump from Joe Biden in the state of Georgia. It's close enough that it's worth getting specific about what happened there. Georgia's secretary of state has now confirmed there will be a hand recount of all votes cast.” After listing several voters he claimed were dead but had cast ballots anyway, including one he got completely wrong, Carlson continued: “As of right now, there aren't enough of these votes to alter the outcome. But the point is this: They are dead, but they voted anyway. The question is, how did they do that? How exactly did they cast their ballots? And the short answer is: by mail. Dead people, like any other group, tend to vote more often when you make it easier for them to vote, and this year, we made it much easier for the dead to vote. States sent ballots and registration forms to millions of people, totally unsolicited. The pretext was COVID and a public health emergency. The effect was to encourage fraud.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 11/11/20]
    • National Review hyped a Republican lawsuit which claimed over 10,000 dead people voted in Georgia. In a National Review article on a Republican election lawsuit in Georgia, the author highlighted an expert cited in the lawsuit who claimed that he had identified “as many as 10,315 people who cast ballots who were dead before Election Day”:

    Davis was one of three data experts whose work is at the center of a Georgia lawsuit alleging that tens of thousands of illegal votes may have been cast in November’s general election, according to court documents obtained by National Review.

    The experts assert in affidavits filed with the lawsuit that Georgia’s voting system has numerous “control deficiencies” and “unreliable data governance policies” that increase the risk of “invalid or fraudulent votes being counted without detection.” The findings, they say, cast doubt not only on the 2020 presidential election, but elections going back “many, many years.”

    The lawsuit, filed by the Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer and the Trump campaign, relies on the work of the data experts to allege that thousands of illegal votes were cast in the election, including by felons, children, and non-residents, and even in the name of people who are dead, according to the lawsuit.

    In his affidavit, Geels, the data-analytics and risk-assessment expert in Seattle, said he identified 4,502 people who voted in Georgia despite not being registered. He also said he found as many as 2,560 inmates who cast ballots, 66,247 people who cast ballots who registered to vote before their 17th birthday, and as many as 10,315 people who cast ballots who were dead before Election Day.

    Geels is being paid $15,000 to serve as an expert witness, according to court documents. [National Review, 12/9/20]

    • On Newsmax, former Republican National Committee spokesperson Liz Harrington falsely claimed, “That Georgia hearing this week uncovered over 10,000 dead voters.” Harrington further claimed the 2020 presidential election was “fraudulent.” [Newsmax, The Count: 2020 Election Special, 1/2/21]
    • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt noted that Trump in a Georgia rally “talked about 10,000 dead voters in Georgia.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 1/4/21]
  • Right-wing media pushed Trump’s lie that Pennsylvania counted hundreds of thousands more ballots than it had voters

  • The indictment declared: “The Defendant asserted that there had been 205,000 more votes than voters in Pennsylvania. The Defendant’s Acting Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General had explained to him that this was false.” In fact, according to Snopes, the Pennsylvania Department of State explained that these numbers “were not accurate because they were based on incomplete data.” 

    • Appearing as the Trump campaign’s head legal counsel, Rudy Giuliani claimed about the Pennsylvania election results: “They found 220,000 unexplained ballots. There are more ballots than people who voted.” Giuliani concluded, “If they just allowed a vote based on the evidence that's been produced to the Pennsylvania legislature, I'm confident that, first of all, it would be decertified.” [One America News, One America News, 1/6/21]
    • Then-Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson reposted a Trump social media post pushing the claim that “In Pennsylvania there were 205,000 more votes than there were voters,” writing: “How's this possible? I was told there was no election fraud.” [Twitter/X, 12/29/20]
    • Gateway Pundit published an article that claimed the certified results of the Pennsylvania election “are in error” and that “more ballots were cast than people voted by more than 200,000 votes.” [The Gateway Pundit, 12/28/20]
    • Gateway Pundit hyped a letter from Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano about supposed “fraud” in Pennsylvania, adding: “The most damning evidence against Democrat fraud in the state is the fact that 205,122 more votes were counted in the state than the number of people who voted!” [The Gateway Pundit, 12/31/20]
  • Conservative media outlets allowed Rudy Giuliani to repeatedly push the lie about a “dump” of votes for Biden in Detroit

  • According to the indictment, “The Defendant said that there had been a suspicious vote dump in Detroit, Michigan. The Defendant’s Attorney General had explained to the Defendant that this was false, and the Defendant’s allies in the Michigan state legislature—the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Majority Leader of the Senate—had publicly announced that there was no evidence of substantial fraud in the state.” This lie was spread widely on the video platform TikTok.

    • Giuliani claimed that “at 3:30 in the morning on the night of the election … a truck pulled into the back of the center in Detroit and delivered 100,000 phony ballots that all got counted for Biden.” He baselessly suggested this was evidence of “a very well-planned, very well-executed situation.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/6/20]
    • On One America News, Giuliani asserted that “more than 100,000 ballots were dumped in the city of Detroit'' by people driving “cars without license plates.” Giuliani explained to OAN correspondent Chanel Rion that “100,000 ballots” were brought “in the back door; they came in cardboard boxes, paper bags, some of them wide open so you could actually see the ballots. They were thrown on a table. … The ballots contained only Biden’s name.” [One America News, OAN News 6 AM with Stephanie Myers11/12/20]
    • Giuliani: “In Detroit, we have evidence that 100,000 ballots were brought in at 4:30 in the morning and counted, and to the extent that our witnesses – and there are four of them saw it, and one of them is an ex-employee of Dominion – according to them, every single ballot was for Biden.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/15/20]
    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce claimed: “It's not the people who vote who decide an election, it's those who are counting those votes,” adding, “As an example, there is — was 128,000 new votes in Michigan, 100% of which went to Joe Biden. There's a lot of things that are going on.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 11/4/20]
    • Giuliani: “The attorney general of Michigan is missing the fact that 100,000 ballots were brought in at 4:30 in the morning in Detroit in trucks that looked like garbage trucks, in garbage pails, actually. All those ballots were counted for Biden with no Republican inspectors around.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/23/20]
    • Giuliani: “Now we get to Detroit, and we have a truck that pulled in at 4:30 in the morning with 100,000 votes, and we have a machine, the Dominion machine, that is as full of holes as Swiss cheese, and was developed to steal elections, and being used in the states that are involved.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 12/12/20]
  • Fox led the way in pushing the Trump lie that tens of thousands of people in Nevada voted twice

  • The indictment stated, “The Defendant claimed that there had been tens of thousands of double votes and other fraud in Nevada. The Nevada Secretary of State had previously rebutted the Defendant’s fraud claims by publicly posting a ‘Facts vs. Myths’ document explaining that Nevada judges had reviewed and rejected them, and the Nevada Supreme Court had rendered a decision denying such claims.”

    • Then-Trump lawyer Jesse Binnall: Nevada had voter fraud “such as people voting twice, such as signatures not properly being authenticated, big problems with our authentication process, a lot of instances like that.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/18/20]
    • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “There's a complaint in Nevada. 15,000 instances of double voting it looks like, votes where they were — 15,000 votes that occurred in two states. That's evidence of fraud.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/20/20]
    • Nevada GOP senior adviser Chris Prudhome hyped the Trump campaign’s lawsuit challenging the Nevada election results: “Frankly we have a very strong case out here in Nevada. … We had over 42,000 duplicate addressed individuals who actually obviously voted more than once.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/3/20]
    • RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel suggested that Trump won Nevada because there were “42,000 voters double voting, including people voting from abandoned residences casting votes.” [Fox News, The Story, 12/3/20]
    • OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp: “A whopping 42,000 voters successfully voted twice in the election.” He continued: “They say Joe Biden is up in Nevada by 33,000 votes, well right there, that is 95,000 fraudulent votes, which should automatically put the state back in the running for President Trump.” [One America News, One America News, 12/4/20]
    • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): “We have witnesses from Nevada – 42,000 people voted twice, dead people voted, people from out of state.” Fox anchor Bill Hemmer failed to push back, instead asking, “will we ever get an answer on that, Senator?” [Fox News, Bill Hemmer Reports, 12/16/20]
    • Kilmeade complained that Christopher Krebs was touting the security of the election when “you have the Trump lawyer sitting there saying, ‘Excuse me, there is 26,000 people in Nevada that voted, they didn't belong there. And there’s 45,000 that voted twice.’” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/17/20]
  • Conservative media pushed the Trump team’s fake claims that tens of thousands of noncitizens voted in Arizona

  • From the indictment: “The Defendant said that more than 30,000 non-citizens had voted in Arizona. The Defendant’s own Campaign Manager had explained to him that such claims were false, and the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, who had supported the Defendant in the election, had issued a public statement that there was no evidence of substantial fraud in Arizona.”

    • Then-Trump adviser Stephen Miller: “You have nonresidents, you have non-citizens … and you add all of these together and you have Donald Trump winning the state of Georgia, winning the state of Arizona, winning the state of Wisconsin, winning the state of Pennsylvania.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/14/20]
    • Then-Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn brought up “allegation of widespread fraud,” like “illegal aliens voting in Arizona” and “people who don't live in Arizona.” The New York Times reported that Epshteyn is likely the sixth co-conspirator listed in the indictment of Trump. [One America News, One America News, 12/10/20]
    • On Fox, Giuliani claimed that “you have people who aren't citizens voting in Arizona and then concluded, “you'd have to be absolutely dumb to not know that Arizona was stolen.” He suggested “you'd have to be stupid not to know” that there were “10,000 illegals that voted for Biden in Arizona.”[Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 12/12/20]
    • Gateway Pundit pushed an Arizona Republican lawmaker’s claim that “the number of potential non-citizen voters is higher than Biden’s lead in the state.” [The Gateway Pundit, 11/11/20]
  • Trump’s lie that voting machines switched his votes to Biden was all over Fox

  • According to the indictment, “The Defendant asserted that voting machines in various contested states had switched votes from the Defendant to Biden. The Defendant’s Attorney General, Acting Attorney General, and Acting Deputy Attorney General all had explained to him that this was false, and numerous recounts and audits had confirmed the accuracy of voting machines.” Fox leaned heavily into this lie, often blaming Dominion Voting Systems, which sued Fox for defamation after the election and won a record $787.5 million settlement from the right-wing network.

    • Then-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell: “If you look at Florida where things were done right, you can see that that's how the rest of the country should have gone, but they also used an algorithm to calculate the votes they would need to flip, and they used the computers to flip those votes from Biden – I mean from Trump to Biden.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 11/8/20]
    • Hannity: “And in the state of Michigan, Republicans are moving in to investigate this software glitch called Dominion that actually changed thousands of votes from Trump to Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/9/20]
    • Hannity: Dominion voting machines were “used in 47 of the 80-some odd counties in Michigan. Then you have the 6,000 vote switch.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/12/20]
    • Hannity: “Several days ago, Dominion came under heavy fire after allegations their machines caused thousands of votes in one Michigan county to be switched from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/12/20]
    • Then-Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany to Dobbs: “I know you’ve detailed this on your program, but that Dominion software in a county, in Antrim County, you had 6,000 votes swing from Joe Biden to President Trump, they were incorrectly counted for Joe Biden.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/13/20]
    • Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo: Trump’s legal team members “say they have a stack of affidavits of people, sworn testimony that say that they saw the Dominion machines change votes. They know how it works.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 11/30/20]
    • Then-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis: Antrim County, Michigan, “had the switch of 6,000 votes from President Trump to Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 12/6/20]