Written by Hudson Crozier
What to know: Former President Donald Trump’s current indictments regarding his actions following the 2020 election were influenced by a long-debunked hoax that Trump told Georgia officials to fabricate thousands of votes.
The story: In January 2021, an anonymous source told The Washington Post that Trump ordered Georgia’s top elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a phone call and become a “national hero.” In another call, Trump had told Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” the votes. The media’s narrative was that Trump was requesting officials to fraudulently create votes for him.
- The facts: A transcript later revealed that Trump was not asking the officials to fabricate votes, but instead argued that he had “won very substantially” and was requesting a thorough investigation to reveal the alleged fraud and election dishonesty.
But it was too late: The fake narrative spread like wildfire in the media and even became part of Trump's second impeachment trial. Now, Special Counsel Jack Smith and Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis have included the secretary of state phone call in their indictments, falsely claiming that Trump told him to nullify legitimate election results. Willis even said the phone call was “a central focus” of her investigation.
Why it matters: Both prosecutors face the difficult task of proving that Trump didn’t believe his own voter fraud claims and acted dishonestly. The fact that a partisan media narrative is part of their evidence will not help them, nor will it stop the widespread sentiment that these cases are politically motivated.