Donald Trump’s all-caps warning in June — that foreign countries would surely print "millions of mail-in ballots" to upend the U.S. election — appears to have amounted to nothing.
Trump made the claim all summer and fall, but he hasn’t raised the matter in recent days, even as he fights for his political life. And intelligence officials, who for months described no evidence that such a plot was afoot, reaffirmed Friday that their earlier judgment stands.
"Our assessments have not changed," said Dean Boyd, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
"We have nothing new to add to our previous statements," FBI spokesperson Carol Cratty said.
Trump has bristled publicly at intelligence leaders, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, for emphasizing the extreme unlikelihood that coordinated voter fraud would play a role in the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, Trump has made sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations of fraud as he tries to keep his presidential bid alive. He trails former Vice President Joe Biden in a handful of decisive states.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the intelligence related to foreign ballots.
Before Election Day, Trump focused much of his angst about mail-in ballots on the unfounded notion that a foreign adversary might mass-produce them and upend the election.
"RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS," Trump tweeted in June. "IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!"
Trump’s top experts on the matter have long said a foreign effort to manipulate the mail-in ballot process effectively would be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off. In September, Wray sharply downplayed the notion that a foreign actor could mount such a sophisticated and intricate effort.
“We have not seen historically any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise," Wray said at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
In August, senior officials with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI told reporters in a background briefing that they had no evidence that "any nation-state threat actor is engaging in any activity to undermine the mail-in vote or ballots."
Those statements contradicted Trump, who spent all summer and fall warning that foreign adversaries could take advantage of states’ increased coronavirus-related reliance on mail-in ballots.
“Unsolicited Ballots are uncontrollable, totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE by foreign countries, and will lead to massive chaos and confusion!” Trump said in September.
Attorney General William Barr said in July that he had no evidence such a plot was occurring but that it was "common sense" to think foreign powers bent on interfering would choose such a method
Barr has been largely out of view since Election Day. A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on calls by some Trump allies for the Department of Justice to get involved in post-election litigation.
Josh Gerstein contributed.
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