Top intelligence officials in the U.S. government have come out against conspiracy theories from President Donald Trump, who has claimed, without evidence, that high levels of mail-in ballot usage in the upcoming general election will lead to high levels of fraud that could even force a do-over of the race. Trump has also claimed that foreign countries could supposedly even forge mail-in ballots and send them in among the ballots from actual American voters, but this week, CNN reported that a senior intelligence official said that authorities have “no information or intelligence that any nation state threat actor is engaging in activity… to undermine any part of the mail-in vote or ballots.”
How would a foreign country even go about forging and submitting ballots, as Trump has claimed is a possibility? Mail-in ballots have to be tied to individual voters — they can’t come in without names or with names of people who aren’t actually registered voters. Thus, the scale of the operation would have to be unimaginably huge — and there’s no evidence for it.
Meanwhile, this week, an FBI official also addressed Trump’s broader claims about supposed domestically originating voter fraud and said that the agency has not seen evidence of “a coordinated national voter fraud effort,” according to CNN.
As that official put it:
‘We have not seen, to date, a coordinated national voter fraud effort during a major election and it would be extraordinarily difficult to change a federal election outcome through this type of model alone, given the range of processes that [would] need to be affected or compromised by an adversary at the local level.’
The items that officials say that they have no evidence for are exactly what Trump has spent a long time now sounding alarms about. On June 22, Trump tweeted the following message — in all caps, for some reason:
‘RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!’
RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020
There is zero evidence for this claim — but Trump hasn’t stopped there. He has claimed that the election “could be decided two months later,” and although there’s no particular evidence for the lengthy timeframes that he has repeatedly thrown out, he could use his claims of some kinds of uncertainty and potential for fraud to stoke uncertainty around the election results themselves. At a recent press conference, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump might not even accept the election results — as she put it to reporters:
‘The President has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. It’s the same thing he said last November — he wants a free election, a fair election, and he wants confidence in the results of the election.’
The validity of election results is not up to the president!
CNN reports that officials “reiterated Wednesday that they are concerned about malicious actors seeking to exploit any uncertainty over the election results and the expected lack of an immediate winner on November 3.” One of those “malicious actors” could be the president.