Trump lawsuits lack evidence, and confuse Michigan with Minnesota

Trump lawsuits lack evidence, and confuse Michigan with Minnesota
PBS video, YouTube

“Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it,” noted Jonathan Swift. So it is with false claims about elections. Trump is claiming he won when he lost the election, just as Democrats in the past claimed that they won when they lost the election.

In past elections, Democrats spread false claims about the election being stolen from them. They claimed that Diebold voting machines “‘stole’ Ohio’s electoral votes and the 2004 election” from Democratic nominee John Kerry and gave them to George W. Bush. Fact-checkers like pointed out this was untrue, and even liberal newspapers like the New York Times conceded there was “no evidence” of any such conspiracy. But many Democrats still mistakenly believed that they were cheated out of victory in 2004.

Similarly, in a 2018 poll, two out of three Democrats believed that Russia “tampered with vote tallies on Election Day” in 2016 to help Donald Trump win. But as the global pollster YouGov notes, there is “no credible evidence” of such tampering.

Today, Trump refuses to admit the obvious fact that he lost the election, even though Biden’s victory margin over Trump in states like Pennsylvania is bigger than Trump’s victory margin over Mrs. Clinton was in 2016. Indeed, Biden’s victory margin is just too big to be altered by individual instances of vote fraud or mistakes in counting the ballots.

Nothing Trump’s lawyers have filed in court suggests any widespread vote fraud, or any irregularities large enough to change the outcome of the election in any state. Outside of court, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell has suggested that Trump was cheated out of the election. But when Fox News’ Tucker Carlson challenged her to show any evidence of this, she refused to do so, because there is no evidence of widespread fraud or vote manipulation. As Carlson notes:

For more than a week, Powell has been all over conservative media with the following story: This election was stolen by a collection of international leftists who manipulated vote tabulating software in order to flip millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden….So we invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour. We would have given her the entire week, actually, and listened quietly the whole time at rapt attention.

But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of polite requests. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her. When we checked with others around the Trump campaign, people in positions of authority, they also told us Powell had never given them any evidence to prove anything she claimed at the press conference.

Powell did say that electronic voting is dangerous, and she’s right, but she never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one.

Facts are not on Trump’s side, in disputing the results of this election. The conservative Minnesota lawyer and think-tank president John Hinderaker, who steadfastly defended Donald Trump at many points during his presidency, gives an embarrassing example: Trump’s Michigan lawsuit confuses Michigan with Minnesota (which Trump lost by a much bigger margin):

Here’s the problem: the townships and precincts listed in paragraphs 11 and 17 of the affidavit are not in Michigan. They are in Minnesota. Monticello, Albertville, Lake Lillian, Houston, Brownsville, Runeberg, Wolf Lake, Height of Land, Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Kandiyohi–these are all towns in Minnesota. … (The postal code for Minnesota is MN, while Michigan is MI, so one can see how this might happen.) So the affidavit, which addresses “anomalies and red flags” in Michigan, is based largely, and mistakenly, on data from Minnesota.

This is a catastrophic error, the kind of thing that causes a legal position to crash and burn. Trump’s lawyers are fighting an uphill battle, to put it mildly, and confusing Michigan with Minnesota will at best make the hill steeper. Credibility once lost is hard to regain.

I used to handle voting-rights lawsuits as a lawyer. If I had gotten basic facts wrong like that, I would have been fired.

If Trump had been more concerned with the facts, maybe he would have been reelected. Advisers told Trump to talk about facts that helped him, such as the American economy’s rapid rebound later this year, rather than going off on fact-free rants at rallies. Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading factual claims during his presidency.

Right before the election, Trump could have talked about how the U.S. economy “accelerated at a 33.1% annualized pace in the third quarter,” the “fastest pace ever,” and did much better than most world economies during the coronavirus epidemic. This was largely due to Trump not meddling too much in the economy, and not imposing lots of new government red tape, the way Obama did.

But Trump spent little time at his rallies talking about this, because such facts bored him. He spent more time going off on tangents and rants that did not appeal to swing voters.

Trump also spent little time talking about Joe Biden’s very left-leaning spending proposals. Joe Biden has proposed vastly more spending than any past Democratic nominee. He supports $3 trillion in new taxes and $11 trillion in new spending. That puts Biden much further to the left than Hillary Clinton, who supported only $1.4 trillion in new spending in 2016. Trump virtually never talked about that, even though it would have helped him win the election.

Joe Biden has supported California’s AB5, which curbed freelance work and eliminated the positions of thousands of independent contractors. He wants to implement it nationally. No past Democratic president has supported such left-wing legislation. Trump never talked about that, even though voters — especially those who do freelance work — would have cared about that.

Biden recently said that the filibuster should be abolished if it stands in the way of “systemic change” sought by progressives and Democrats take control of the Senate. Abolishing the filibuster would lead to a flood of progressive legislation becoming law. Trump virtually never talked about that, either.

Because of the damage that Trump’s unfounded claims are doing to the GOP’s image, the Democrats may yet take control of the Senate by winning the Georgia Senate elections slated for January, giving the left control of both Congress and the White House.

In a normal political environment, the GOP would win the elections in Georgia, because the Democratic candidates are fairly radical. For example, Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock praised a sermon that said “God Damn America.” Warnock also “told the world that everyone needed to repent for their worship of whiteness and claimed that socialism is supported by the Bible.” Warnock also praised an anti-semitic preacher, compared “Israelis to animals,” and made remarks against the U.S. military, saying that it is impossible for anyone “to serve God and the military” (tell that to thousands of military chaplains).

But this year, the Georgia senate run-off elections will be very close, and the Democrats may win. Trump’s unfounded attacks on Georgia’s voting process have divided the state GOP, and Democrat Warnock leads Republican candidate Kelly Loeffler by 1% in a recent Fox News poll. That poll shows the other Georgia Senate race tied, with 49% of voters supporting both Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.