Former President Donald Trump knew he was engaging in illegal actions to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden had won.
Even if Trump believed he won the election, there was no legal justification for taking the illegal actions he took.
Trump’s attempt to rig the election results in Georgia was illegal. Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to just “find 11,780 votes” and threatened him if he did not do so. Trump had to have known that you cannot arbitrarily change a vote count. He had no factual evidence to justify this artificial number of votes, and he was not seeking an actual vote count in Georgia. His only purpose of pressing Raffensperger to “find” a specific number of votes was to “win” a race he had lost.
Even if Trump believed he won the election, he knew or should have known that the scheme that he and John Eastman led — to obtain fake presidential electors in a number of states and submit phony certifications to Congress — was not legal.
The purpose of Trump’s scheme is clear: to obstruct and delay the certification of Joe Biden as President on January 6, 2021. The scheme violated state laws on how electors are duly declared, certified, and sent to Congress by state officials. And, it was an effort to obstruct a congressional proceeding, which is a federal crime.
Even if Trump believed he had won the election, he knew he was inciting a mob to attack the Capitol and obstruct the certification of Biden’s victory. He incited the mob’s threat to hang Vice President Mike Pence. Trump knew he was setting loose a mob to take illegal action.
Trump knew that he and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had no factual evidence for their claims of widespread fraud in the Arizona election. Yet Trump cited these false claims to pressure Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, a Republican, to call a special session to illegally recall the Biden presidential electors chosen by Arizona voters. Trump pursued this illegal action in order to prevent Congress from certifying on January 6 that Biden had won. (Bowers testified to the House Jan. 6 Committee that Giuliani finally said to him, “We have lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”)
Trump was told repeatedly that there was no evidence of voter fraud that would have affected the election result by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, by his campaign lawyers, by his White House Counsel’s office, and by others.
It belies reality to think that Trump did not know he lost the election. But this is the bottom line — even if Trump somehow believed he won the election, this belief provided no justification for Trump’s numerous violations of law in attempting to overturn the presidential election result.
His proper remedy if he believed he had won was to challenge the election result in the courts. Trump and his allies also pursued this path and they lost 61 of the 62 lawsuits they brought to challenge the election results.
Today, Trump continues his frontal attack on our democracy. Trump’s attempted coup failed in the 2020 election, but, he and his supporters continue to plot with an eye to 2024.
Trump and his allies must be challenged head-on and defeated in their efforts to destroy the integrity and credibility of our elections. Democracy is at stake.