Over the past few weeks, former President Donald Trump has appeared on a number of fringe right-wing media outlets to push election conspiracy theories and other misinformation, using news events to advance his election lies while attacking President Joe Biden and laying the groundwork for another presidential campaign.
Trump has pushed election lies for almost a year now. As he starts to set the stage for a possible 2024 run, the former president is latching onto current events and the Republican-led audits to spread his conspiracy theories and evolve his self-serving narratives.
In some of his appearances, Trump suggests that the QAnon-linked Arizona “audit” should lead to decertification of the 2020 election. In reality, the results of the audit’s draft report indicate that Biden actually received more votes than Trump in Maricopa County than were previously counted, and no fraud occurred.
As recently pointed out by CNN’s Brian Stelter, decertifying an election is not an actual route to reinstating a president. Stelter explained that while Trump “might not believe” his own lies, “his fans do,” suggesting this is a tactic for right-wing media to continue living in their political “fantasy … about the 2020 election, even though it’s almost 2022.”
The former president has also attacked Biden for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during these media hits while connecting it to his election fraud conspiracy theories. Trump regularly claims that if the election was not “rigged” or “stolen,” the outcome in Afghanistan would be different (although Trump himself negotiated an earlier withdrawal deal with the Taliban in 2020).
Trump’s attempt to tie his election fraud lies to any newsworthy story is embarrassing, but this relentless effort to spread misinformation and conservative grievances seems to be the entire point of his current right-wing media tour.
On September 27, the former president was interviewed by Real America’s Voice host and Trump adviser Gina Loudon.
Trump claimed that “the elections in our country are not fair and free” and there’s been “tremendous voter fraud.” He pointed to the Arizona “audit” as proof of voter fraud and suggested the results were “fantastic” and should lead to decertification of the state’s electors.
During the interview, Trump pushed the same evidence-free election fraud lies that he pushed during his past interviews. He described the election as “so corrupt” and asserted that “possibly many states cheated” and “a lot of bad things happened [in] the so-called swing states.”
During a September 23 interview with Real America’s Voice anchor and avowed social media ban-evader John Fredericks, Trump pushed more of the same conspiracy theories -- beginning with the lie that he “did not lose” in 2020.
Trump claimed the only way Democrats can win is by “rigging elections” and suggested that the election is “crooked.” He continued, suggesting that simply looking at the lines on election day showed that it was “rigged.”
During a September 21 interview with Steve Gruber of Real America’s Voice, Trump pushed similar election conspiracy theories and lies. Trump asserted that he “won the election by a lot” and suggested that the Democrats “rigged” and “stole the election.”
Trump also attacked mail-in ballots, claiming that they “lead to fraud.” (They don’t.)
During a September 14 interview on Newsmax with his former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump complained that the election was “absolutely rigged.”
During the interview, Joe Hoft claimed the 2020 election “was stolen on many counts.” The former president responded, “Absolutely,” and later asserted that Democrats “used COVID and they used mail-in ballots to rig the election. We won the election by a lot and they rigged it.” Trump went on to claim that he believes “they're going to decertify this election.”
When asked by Hoft what happens if “various states become decertified,” Trump responded by claiming that if you “rob” a jewelry store of its diamonds “and you get caught, you’re supposed to return them” -- suggesting to his right-wing audience that if states become “decertified,” he will be reinstated as president. “We caught them cheating -- you’re going to let somebody that cheated stay for three more years? I can’t imagine it.”
In another interview with Fredericks on his September 1 radio show, Trump said it was “a terrible, rigged, horrible election and it's a disgrace.” He continued, saying that if the election was not “rigged,” gas and food prices would be lower.
During an August 31 interview with conservative commentators Clay Travis and Buck Sexton, Trump complained to the hosts that it was “a rigged election.”
When Trump was interviewed by radio host and conspiracy theorist Todd Starnes on August 30, it was more of the same. Trump said “we had a rigged election” and claimed Democrats “used COVID in order to cheat.”
Also on August 30, Trump sat down with the far-right conspiracy theory broadcaster One America News. In an interview with Real America host Dan Ball, Trump said, “I think the whole country is running incompetently -- except for stealing elections.” Ball responded that this is “intentional.”
Trump also repeatedly and falsely claimed that “a rigged election” got Biden into the presidency and that Democrats “cheat at elections.”
Trump's embarrassing efforts on this tour fell on the ears of a very receptive audience, who at best didn't engage and certainly never pushed back.