Brilliant analysis of election fraud. Real or imagined? By the Repub in Georgia who refused Trump.
Who Stole Americans’ Confidence in Elections?
The Clinton campaign and Stacey Abrams spread falsehoods about vote theft years before Trump’s loss.
By Brad Raffensperger
Nov. 15, 2021 6:47 pm ET
I’m mostly known for standing up for the integrity of Georgia’s November 2020 elections. I spent months debunking conspiracy theories, refuting lies about our voting procedures, and enduring threats because I refused to bend on the facts.
Before all that, I was a Trump supporter. In June 2016, I donated to the Trump campaign. Little did I know that at around the same time, one of the most significant election disinformation operations was beginning—one that would create almost constant turmoil for President Trump during his four years in office and convulse the country. Ultimately, the Steele dossier would set the stage for a political environment where Americans have more confidence in stolen election claims than in the elections themselves.
That is what the Steele dossier always was: election disinformation. Several years of investigations into the origins of the salacious lies has resulted in two indictments, one of them handed up Nov. 3, of men connected to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about those connections. An FBI lawyer also admitted to altering an email that the bureau used to secure the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant connected to the dossier. It turns out that not only did much of the unverified report alleging collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign come from biased political sources, many of the claims were made up or regurgitated from rumors published in various news outlets.
Mainstream media organizations reported breathlessly on the claims in the dossier after it was released by Buzzfeed. Its claims had never been verified. Yet news outlets gave it legitimacy through constant repetition and breaking-news headlines.
Major elected officials and members of the intelligence community raised public alarms about the dossier. But too many treated its unverified and baseless allegation as a smoking gun that proved an imaginary scheme to steal the 2016 presidential election.
Tragically, these unverified claims were also used to turn federal law enforcement into a weapon against the Trump campaign. The FBI used the claims in the dossier to secure a warrant to wiretap a former member of the Trump campaign. The FISA court application contained only one footnote about possible political motivations. The misinformation reached the highest levels of America’s law-enforcement apparatus, given credibility by the media and others trying to undermine the integrity of America’s 2016 election.
The evidence was obviously unreliable. The main source—the defendant in this month’s indictment—had heavy ties to the Clinton campaign and other Democratic Party organizations, not to mention the Russian government.
The damage this dossier did may be irreparable. With the complicity of major media outlets, the country was told to believe a falsehood. The Clinton campaign, Democratic Party affiliates and mainstream media ran a concerted campaign to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election.
All too often, conservatives like me get accused of plotting complicated “House of Cards”-style efforts to steal elections. Stacey Abrams has alleged, without any credible evidence, that Georgia Republicans did such things in 2018, and she still refuses to concede that year’s election for governor. Yet the Steele dossier, and how it was used improperly to turn America’s justice system to political ends, serves as the starkest example in memory.
The atmosphere of distrust fed Ms. Abrams’s claims. After all, it was gospel among liberals that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election. The media and the public had been primed to believe an election could be stolen.
When Mr. Trump said the 2020 election was stolen, it should have been obvious how easy it would be to convince Americans not to trust the election. They had just watched major political figures, law-enforcement officials and trusted news anchors spend years making similar assertions about Mr. Trump. Many of the same actors unquestioningly endorsed Ms. Abrams’s claims that her election was stolen.
There has been no mea culpa from anyone involved in pushing the 2016 and 2018 stolen-election lies. To this day, Ms. Abrams maintains that her election was stolen and argues her case was “different” from Mr. Trump’s. The same media outlets that reported around the clock that Mr. Trump stole his election have been quiet since the evidence disproved that claim.
I have said many times that stolen-election claims undermine the integrity of America’s elections, regardless of who makes them or why. They are as bad when they come from Republicans as Democrats. American politicians need the moral courage to accept their losses and move on. If American democracy is to survive, political figures of both parties need to abandon stolen-election claims once and for all.
Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, is Georgia’s secretary of state.
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