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Another Trump voter fraud theory collapses in embarrassing fashion

The weird thing about a story like this one is that Donald Trump effectively confessed to an election abuse that occurred only in his odd imagination.


Sometimes, one can learn a lot from a Freedom of Information Act request that comes up empty. Take this new NBC News report, for example:

The FBI has said it can find no records related to former President Donald Trump’s assertions in November that he “sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys” to stop “ballot theft” in Florida during the 2018 election. In a letter dated March 6 and received this week by NBC News, the FBI wrote that it had searched its Central Records System but was “unable to identify records” in response to a reporter’s Freedom of Information Act request seeking any records related to Trump’s claims.

I have a hunch most normal people won’t remember what led to this FOIA request, so let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane and revisit our coverage from last fall.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to an easy re-election victory in the 2022 elections, and soon after, much of the political world started speculating about the Republican governor’s likely presidential campaign. It was around this same time when Trump, annoyed that an understudy might interfere with his ambitions, started taking not-so-subtle rhetorical shots at the Floridian.

But that’s not all the former president did. He also tried to argue that DeSantis would've lost in 2018 were it not for Trump’s post-election intervention.

“[A]fter the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win,” he claimed by way of his social media platform. "I stopped his Election from being stolen."

In other words, according to the former president, he learned of a secret scheme being hatched by corrupt election officials he failed to identify, which led him to secretly deploy FBI agents and federal prosecutors to the Sunshine State, at which point the secret plot was secretly thwarted without anyone noticing.

This was a story he wanted the public to believe and take seriously. There was no indication that Trump was kidding.

Soon after, officials in Florida — and at the Justice Department — said they had no idea what the former president was talking about, and now a Freedom of Information Act request confirms what we previously assumed: There’s simply no evidence that Trump did what he claims to have done.

One of the weird things about a story like this is that Trump has engaged in all kinds of abuses, some of which are the subject of ongoing criminal investigations. But this is an instance in which he effectively confessed to an abuse that occurred only in his odd imagination.

Indeed, if Trump, during his presidency, actually dispatched FBI agents and federal prosecutors to interfere with Florida’s election tallies in 2018, that would itself be worthy of its own investigation. There’s no need for such a probe, however, because it now appears he simply peddled a delusional story he concocted for no reason.

All of which leads to the other relevant angle: When it comes to voter fraud claims, Trump just makes stuff up. Those inclined to genuinely believe the former president’s nonsensical election stories should take note.