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Fact Check: Donald Trump – Trump’s baseless claim about 2020 election fraud and suspending the Constitution

Former President Donald Trump repeated the falsehood that there was “massive” fraud in the 2020 election, and this time he suggested it could be the basis for the “termination” of rules found in the Constitution.

“So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION?” Trump said Dec. 3 on Truth Social. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

Some Democrats and Republicans rebuked Trump’s remarks. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the second-ranking Republican leader in the Senate, said, “I couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s comment. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., tweeted, “Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it.” 

Two days after his initial post, Trump sought to walk back his words about the Constitution, writing in a new post, “The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to ‘terminate’ the Constitution, and called it “disinformation and lies.” “

Despite Trump’s follow-up post, he said plainly in his initial statement the alleged fraud “allows for the termination” of constitutional rules.

Trump’s initial claim had two big factual errors.

There was no significant voter fraud in the 2020 election in which Joe Biden defeated Trump. 

And there is no mechanism by which constitutional rules can be “terminated,” for electoral fraud or for other reasons, experts say.

No ‘massive’ fraud in 2020 election

We asked Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung for Trump’s evidence of 2020 fraud. He referenced Twitter owner Elon Musk’s recent promotion of tweets summarizing internal deliberations during Twitter’s prior ownership about how the company handled a 2020 New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s laptop. 

Twitter initially sought to prevent the spread of tweets sharing information about the laptop amid concerns that the claims could be a hoax. But after public backlash, the company backed off and allowed the tweets to be shared.

Independent writer Matt Taibbi tweeted what he called the “Twitter Files,” detailing the company’s actions during that period. Cheung told PolitiFact that the tweets proved “big tech” favored Biden.

Cheung did not mention that Taibbi also wrote that “both parties had access to these tools” and that “requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored.” 

Any impact that Twitter’s action may have had on the election is speculative.

Nothing in Twitter’s 2020 actions proves Trump’s statement that there was “massive” fraud. The company’s ban on sharing the news was rescinded, and there were other ways for voters to get that information. Biden won the election, 306 electoral votes to 232, and with more than 7 million popular votes than Trump.

Trump’s own advisers, federal and state officials including Republicans in Georgia, and judges nationwide found no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. 

A few people were ultimately charged with voter fraud, but that did not change the election’s outcome.

Can rules in the Constitution be ‘terminated’?

There’s no scenario in the Constitution to back up what Trump called for.

The closest scenario to a “termination” of constitutional rules is the writ of habeas corpus, which concerns a prisoner’s right to challenge their detention. The Constitution allows the suspension of this right only in cases of rebellions or invasions. 

Still, not only is suspending habeas corpus distinct from overturning an election, but “the obvious difference is that the U.S. is not in a state of war,” said Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University historian.

Habeas corpus has been suspended four times, including during the Civil War and after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, according to the Constitution Center. 

President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War was criticized because he did so without congressional action. 

However, convening lawmakers during domestic warfare was impractical, and the Constitution didn’t explicitly bar the president’s action, said Michael Burlingame, a Lincoln scholar at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

The Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress, along with approval by three-quarters of the states. Alternatively, two-thirds of the states can back a new constitutional convention to propose amendments.

But neither mechanism fits with what Trump said in his Truth Social post. Both are time-consuming — the first option has been successful only 17 times after the enactment of the Bill of Rights, and the second has never been put into practice.

Our ruling

Trump claimed “the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION” in the 2020 election “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

There was no massive or widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Courts repeatedly rejected Trump’s allegations of fraud and a stolen election.

Moreover, there is no mechanism for the “termination” of constitutional rules because of undesired election results. 

We rate the statement Pants on Fire.

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Source: PolitiFact.