2020 election: Experts respond to Trump’s false claims

When President Trump falsely claimed Wednesday morning that the pending election outcome was “a fraud on the American public” because remaining ballots were being counted, election experts were quick to correct him.

“I think the president is confused, if you want to treat it charitably,” election law expert Edward Foley said after watching Trump’s speech from the White House. “What he describes doesn’t match the reality of the legal process as it applies to counting votes. The votes will be counted in each and every one of these states.”

In a tweet directed at the president, Richard W. Painter, a White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, said: “In a representative democracy we don’t just vote. We also count the votes. And that includes the last few million of them.”

Hours later, Trump tweeted that his lead in key states began to “magically disappear” as more votes rolled in.

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled,” he wrote. “Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!”

Several of the president’s tweets have been flagged with a noticeable disclaimer, with a link to Twitter’s policy for flagging and slowing the spread of misinformation. The votes still being counted in many states are absentee and mail-in ballots that arrived before or on election day.

“There were no ‘surprise ballot dumps.’ There was just the usual … counting of votes,” said Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas. “The only thing that’s nefarious here is the President peddling this dangerous and false narrative.”

John Bolton, a former Trump official and Republican strategist, characterized Trump’s comments about the election being stolen from him as “some of the most irresponsible comments that a president of the United States has ever made.”

“He has cast doubt on the entirety of the electoral process purely for his own personal advantage,” he said on SkyNews. “It’s a disgrace.”

“I was very distressed by what I heard the president say,” Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator, said on CNN shortly after Trump’s speech. “The idea of using the word ‘fraud,’ that there’s fraud by people counting votes I think is wrong.”

Times staff writer Brittny Mejia in Las Vegas contributed to this report.