Attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election

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"Stop the Steal" signs near the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021

After Joe Biden won the 2020 United States presidential election, then-President Donald Trump did not accept his defeat and claimed the election was rigged and had voter fraud.[1] This was an effort to overturn the election,[2][3][4] with support and assistance from his campaign, proxies, political allies, and many of his supporters. Many unsuccessful lawsuits were filed to change the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. Efforts to change the election results caused the 2021 United States Capitol attack, which was widely described as an attempted coup d'état.[5]

False claims[change | change source]

Trump at a White House press conference calling the 2020 election corrupt

Trump and his allies called the election a "big lie" based on false claims and conspiracy theories claiming that the election was stolen by rigged voting machines, electoral fraud and an international communist conspiracy.[6][7] Trump, The Proud Boys and QAnon spread fake information on social media saying the election was rigged and stolen.[8]

These allegations were not proven and were tossed out by many state and federal judges, election officials, governors, and government agencies.[9][10] On December 1, 2020, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents had investigated complaints and allegations of fraud, but found none of significance.[11][12][13] Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said no evidence had been found of other countries trying to hack the election.[14] Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs called the election "the most secure in American history", which caused Trump to fire him.[15] Trump attorney Joseph diGenova wanted Krebs to be executed.[16][17][18]

Response[change | change source]

Many elected Republicans, including members of Congress and governors, did not want to say that Biden won the election fairly.[19] Many of Trump's supporters would protest the election results by chanting "Stop the Steal".[20] Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, delayed the start of the presidential transition until sixteen days after most media outlets had called Biden the winner.[21][22] Former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn wanted Trump to suspend the United States Constitution, force martial law, silence the press, and hold a new election under military supervision.[23]

Attempts[change | change source]

Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to win Georgia's electoral college

A small group of Trump supporters, including Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows and several Republican lawmakers from the House Freedom Caucus, tried to keep Trump in power. They wanted state legislatures to force a Trump win and change the electoral vote certification at the Capitol for favor Trump.[24] Trump and his allies wanted state officials to throw out legally cast ballots, challenge vote-certification processes, and overturn certified election results.[25] In an early January 2021 phone call, he wanted the Georgia secretary of state to "find" the 11,780 votes needed to win his victory in the state.[26] He also wanted Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to create a special session of the legislature to overturn Biden's certified victory in the state. He wanted the Pennsylvania state government to do the same.[4] Trump asked 300 Republican state legislators to look for ways to reverse the election results in their states.[27][28][29]

Lawsuits[change | change source]

Trump wanted Justice Department leaders to challenge the election results and publicly state the election was corrupt.[30][31] His legal team wanted a path to bring a case before the United States Supreme Court, but none of the 63 lawsuits they filed were successful.[32][33][34][35] Many of these lawyers hoped that the Texas v. Pennsylvania would work, but on December 11, 2020, the Supreme Court said they would not hear that case.[36]

Possible military action[change | change source]

After the failure of Texas, Trump thought about a military intervention, taking voting machines and another appeal to the Supreme Court, as well as challenging the congressional counting of the electoral votes on January 6, 2021.[37][38][39]

Electoral college certification[change | change source]

On January 6, 2021, the day of the electoral college certification, Trump supporters attacked the United States Capitol to overturn the election results

By December 30, 2020, many Republican members of the House and Senate said they would try to force both chambers to debate whether to certify the Electoral College results.[40][41][42] Mike Pence, who as vice president would be in charge over the proceedings. He supported this by saying on January 4, "I promise you, come this Wednesday, we will have our day in Congress." Trump and some supporters promoted a false "Pence card" theory that, even if Congress were to certify the results, the vice president would have the power to reject them.[43][44][45]

On the day of the electoral certification, supporters of Trump, attacked the United States Capitol to try to overturn the election, with some calling it an attempted coup d'état.[46][47] One week later, Trump was impeached a second time for incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate. Depending on the findings of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which is expected to release its report in 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice may decide to investigate whether Trump committed a crime.[48]

Aftermath[change | change source]

After the vote certification, some Republicans changed their opinion to say Biden won the election.[49][50] However, some continued to support Trump's claims.[51][52][53] As of April 2022, Trump has publicly continued to insist that the election was stolen.[54] Although Trump has said he lost the election to a group of historians in mid-2021, saying, "We had a deal all set [until the election was lost and] the deal went away."[55] Trump supporters continue attempts to overturn the results, pushing for state legislature resolutions and new lawsuits.[56]

References[change | change source]

  1. Multiple sources:
    • Kumar, Anita; Orr, Gabby (December 21, 2020). "Inside Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the election". Politico. Trump's efforts to cling to power are unprecedented in American history. While political parties have fought over the results of presidential elections before, no incumbent president has ever made such expansive and individualized pleas to the officials who oversee certification of the election results.
    • Sanger, David E. (November 19, 2020). "Trump's Attempts to Overturn the Election Are Unparalleled in U.S. History". The New York Times. President Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.
  2. Multiple sources:
  3. Multiple sources:
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gardner, Amy; Dawsey, Josh; Bade, Rachael (December 7, 2020). "Trump asks Pennsylvania House speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  5. Graham, David A. (January 6, 2021). "This Is a Coup". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  6. Multiple sources:
  7. Carlson, J. (December 14, 2020). "The Legitimacy and Effect of Private Funding in Federal and State Electoral Processes" (PDF). Got Freedom. Thomas More Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 10, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021. The confusion and negative effect from illegitimate infusion of private funding in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and several other states during the 2020 election can be shown to have had a disparate and inequitable impact on the electorate.
  8. Tollefson, Jeff (4 February 2021). "Tracking QAnon: how Trump turned conspiracy-theory research upside down" (PDF). Nature. Vol. 590. Nature Research. pp. 192–193. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00257-y. ISSN 1476-4687. LCCN 12037118. PMID 33542489. S2CID 231818589. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  9. Tapper, Jake (December 31, 2020). "At least 140 House Republicans to vote against counting electoral votes, two GOP lawmakers say". CNN.
  10. Chen, Shawna (November 12, 2020). "Department of Homeland Security calls election 'the most secure in American history'". Axios. Archived from the original on December 2, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  11. Rutenberg, Jim; Becker, Jo; Lipton, Eric; Haberman, Maggie; Martin, Jonathan; Rosenberg, Matthew; Schmidt, Michael S. (January 31, 2021). "77 Days: Trump's Campaign to Subvert the Election – Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud – a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  12. Rosenberg, Matthew; Rutenberg, Jim (February 1, 2021). "Key Takeaways From Trump's Effort to Overturn the Election – A Times examination of the 77 days between election and inauguration shows how a lie the former president had been grooming for years overwhelmed the Republican Party and stoked the assault on the Capitol". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  13. Multiple sources:
  14. Polantz, Katelyn; Cohen, Zachary; Perez, Evan (August 6, 2021). "How a Trump environmental lawyer tried to weaponize the Justice Department to help the President". CNN.
  15. Krebs, Christopher Cox (November 29, 2020). "Fired director of U.S. cyber agency Chris Krebs explains why President Trump's claims of election interference are false". In Pelley, Scott Cameron (ed.). 60 Minutes. Season 53. Episode 13. Event occurs at 11:30. CBS. Archived from the original on December 2, 2020.
  16. Pengelly, Martin (December 2020). "Trump lawyer: ex-election security chief Krebs should be 'taken out and shot'". The Guardian.
  17. Sanger, David E.; Perlroth, Nicole (November 18, 2020). "Trump Fires Christopher Krebs, Official Who Disputed Election Fraud Claims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  18. Multiple sources:
  19. Kane, Paul; Clement, Scott (December 5, 2020). "Just 27 congressional Republicans acknowledge Biden's win, Washington Post survey finds". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  20. Triomphe, Catherine (November 6, 2020). "Explaining 'Stop the Steal', Trump supporters' viral offensive to discredit the election". America Votes. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  21. Shear, Michael D.; Haberman, Maggie; Crowley, Michael (November 10, 2020). "Trump Appointee Stands Between Biden's Team and a Smooth Transition". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  22. "Formal Joe Biden transition may begin, US agency concludes". November 23, 2020. Archived from the original on November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  23. Multiple sources:
  24. Benner, Katie; Edmondson, Catie; Broadwater, Luke; Feuer, Alan (2021-12-16). "Meadows and the Band of Loyalists: How They Fought to Keep Trump in Power". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-16.
  25. Multiple sources:
  26. Gardner, Amy (January 3, 2021). "'I just want to find 11,780 votes': In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  27. Broadwater, Luke; Feuer, Alan (January 21, 2022). "Jan. 6 Panel and State Officials Seek Answers on Fake Trump Electors - Pressure is mounting on the Justice Department to investigate bogus electors who claimed that Donald J. Trump defeated Joseph R. Biden Jr. in their states". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  28. Marshall Cohen; Zachary Cohen; Dan Merica (January 20, 2022). "Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw fake electors plot in 7 states". CNN.
  29. Beth Reinhard; Amy Gardner; Josh Dawsey; Emma Brown; Rosalind S. Helderman (January 20, 2022). "As Giuliani coordinated plan for Trump electoral votes in states Biden won, some electors balked". The Washington Post.
  30. Wild, Whitney; Herb, Jeremy; Fox, Lauren; Cohen, Zachary; Nobles, Ryan (June 15, 2021). "New emails show how Trump and his allies pressured Justice Department to try to challenge 2020 election results". CNN.
  31. Herb, Jeremy (July 30, 2021). "Trump to DOJ last December: 'Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me' | CNN Politics". CNN.
  32. Sherman, Amy; Valverde, Miriam (January 8, 2021). "Joe Biden is right that more than 60 of Trump's election lawsuits lacked merit". PolitiFact.
  33. Cummings, William; Joey Garrison and Jim Sergent (January 6, 2021). "By the numbers: President Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the election". USA Today. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  34. Liptak, Adam (December 8, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Republican Challenge to Pennsylvania Vote". The New York Times.
  35. Shamsian, Jacob; Sheth, Sonam (January 5, 2021). "Trump and Republican officials have won zero out of at least 42 lawsuits they've filed since Election Day". Business Insider. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  36. Fordham, Evie (December 9, 2020). "Trump touts Texas Supreme Court case as 'the big one,' says 'we will be intervening'". Fox News.
  37. Sonmez, Felicia; Dawsey, Josh; Lamothe, Dan; Zapotosky, Matt (December 21, 2020). "A frustrated Trump redoubles efforts to overturn election result". The Washington Post.
  38. Rahman, Rema (December 21, 2020). "No. 2 GOP senator: Efforts to overturn election would 'go down like a shot dog'". The Hill.
  39. Woodruff Swan, Betsy (January 21, 2022). "Read the never-issued Trump order that would have seized voting machines". Politico.
  40. Edmondson, Catie; Crowley, Michael (December 30, 2020). "Hawley Answers Trump's Call for Election Challenge". The New York Times.
  41. Herb, Jeremy; Mattingly, Phil; Fox, Lauren (December 30, 2020). "GOP senator to delay affirming Biden victory". CNN.
  42. Wagner, John. "Sen. Hawley announces he will contest certification of electoral college vote". The Washington Post.
  43. Broadwater, Luke (January 2, 2021). "Pence Welcomes Futile Bid by G.O.P. Lawmakers to Overturn Election". The New York Times.
  44. Karni, Annie (January 4, 2021). "Pence's Choice: Side With the Constitution or His Boss". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-01-05.
  45. Jalonick, Mary Clare (January 3, 2021). "EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes". Associated Press.
  46. Multiple sources:
  47. Barry, Dan; Frenkel, Sheera (January 7, 2021). "'Be There. Will Be Wild!': Trump All but Circled the Date". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  48. Hamburger, Tom; Alemany, Jacqueline; Dawsey, Josh; Zapotosky, Matt (December 23, 2021). "Thompson says Jan. 6 committee focused on Trump's hours of silence during attack, weighing criminal referrals". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  49. Caldwell, Leigh Ann; Kapur, Sahil; Tsirkin, Julie (December 16, 2020). "McConnell congratulates Biden on his victory as more Republicans abandon Trump's fight". NBC News.
  50. Wise, Lindsay; Hughes, Siobhan (December 15, 2020). "More Republicans Now Say Joe Biden Is President-Elect". The Wall Street Journal.
  51. Wise, Alana (October 6, 2021). "Trump continues to lie, says 'real insurrection' happened when he lost election". NPR. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  52. Beavers, Olivia; Wu, Nicholas (November 3, 2021). "1 year later, GOP still chained to Trump's baseless election fraud claims". Politico. Archived from the original on November 3, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  53. Stahl, Jeremy (November 3, 2021). "A New Anti-Trump Defamation Suit Shows One Way Forward Against the Big Lie". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  54. Welch, David (2022-04-02). "Trump Rallies in Michigan to Put His Stamp on Republican Primary". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  55. Parsley, Aaron (April 5, 2022). "Trump Admits 'I Didn't Win' the 2020 Election During Video Call with Presidential Historians". Retrieved 2022-04-20.
  56. Haberman, Maggie; Berzon, Alexandra; Schmidt, Michael S. (April 18, 2022). "Trump Allies Continue Legal Drive to Erase His Loss, Stoking Election Doubts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2022-04-20.