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Now, Trump is going back to that playbook—but this time he’s being way more explicit about it.
He warned Republican politicians in a Wednesday statement that if they don’t “solve” what he continues to falsely claim was the rigging of the 2020 election, then no one’s going to vote for them in 2022 or 2024.
“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump said. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”
Contrary to Trump’s claims, it’s been thoroughly and conclusively documented over the past 11 months that the election was not rigged and Trump lost. Even true believers in the conspiracy theory have come up short trying to prove that the election was stolen. Last month, the Cyber Ninjas’ “forensic audit” of the 2020 election in Maricopa County—which provided President Joe Biden with his margin of victory in Arizona—found that Trump lost the county fair and square.
“Was there massive fraud or anything?” audit spokesperson Randy Pullen said on Phoenix radio station KJZZ. “It doesn’t look like it.”
Despite this, Trump has continued to double down on his claims, and has threatened Republican leaders—members of Congress, governors, and even state legislators—with pulling his support for them and even backing primary challengers if they don’t toe the party line. For instance, he’s targeted top Michigan Republicans by name, after the Michigan Senate released a report this summer debunking Trump’s fraud claims.
“Michigan’s Republican State Legislators should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this horrible situation to happen,” Trump said in an August 12 statement. “In particular, the incompetent RINO Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, and Senator Ed McBroom.”
The threats have paid off, sort of—even after the utterly shambolic Cyber Ninjas audit in Arizona, Republicans in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have begun trying to investigate and audit the 2020 election in their own states. And in recent weeks, Trump and his supporters have attempted to pressure even states he won, like Texas and Florida, to begin auditing their elections.
With Biden’s approval rating sinking and congressional Democrats holding the slimmest of majorities in both the House and Senate, Trump’s threat could be the difference between the Republicans winning back a legislative majority and handing the Democrats two more years of unified control of government. But it could backfire on him personally as well.
Though Trump has not officially announced he’s running in 2024 for a second non-consecutive term, he’s holding rallies and raising money, and Republican support for another run in Congress is building, as CNN reported Wednesday. Trump was talked out of announcing his 2024 bid in August as the Afghanistan withdrawal sputtered, the Washington Post reported earlier this month.
Trump was convinced not to, the Post reported, by arguments that his announcement so soon would juice Democratic enthusiasm for the midterms—and, in turn, lead to Trump being blamed for a potential failure.
“The biggest point we drove home was that he doesn’t want to own the midterms if we don’t win back the House or Senate,” one person described as “familiar with the conversations” told the Post.