Rick Scott's governor (R-Fla.), In decline, in the Florida Senate race, has aroused not a little alarm in his campaign and in his party.
The GOP has filed a lawsuit on Thursday hoping to stop the vote count in Broward County, where the updated totals have moved the incumbent President Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) In position for an automatic recount. Scott, at a press conference, and President Trump, a a tweet, argued that the decline in total votes was a function of electoral fraud.
It is important to note that there is no evidence that the votes counted in Broward County are nothing more than legitimate votes cast by Florida voters. As is often the case with allegations of electoral fraud, critics are pointing to past questions about the election manager and seemingly nefarious things, such as the discovery a box of cards from a teacher in a school, as proof of fraud.
There is an obvious advantage for Scott and the Republican Party to use puffs of smoke to indicate that Broward (and Palm Beach County) are trying to mislead the election results. The most obvious attempt by a government official to influence the results of the vote is, of course, Scott's critique of a new count.
On the way to Andrews Air Force Base for a trip to Paris on Friday morning, Trump responded to the charges.
"If you look at Broward County, they've had a horrible story," he said, and then criticized the Broward election manager. "And all of a sudden, they're getting votes out of nowhere, and Rick Scott, who won for – you know, was close, but won by a comfortable margin – every couple of hours drops a little bit. . "
That part about Scott's victory is not true. At the end of the election night, he had a leading role, but all the votes had not been counted. Trump should be familiar with this: at the end of the election night of 2016, he and Hillary Clinton were essentially tied to the popular vote, but the vote count, particularly in California, soon put him aside by a wide margin. Nobody wins until all the votes are counted, and on election night, not all votes have been counted. (Daniel Smith, of the University of Florida notes that many votes left to be counted will come from overseas or from army members.)
Trump also linked his conspiracy theory to electoral fraud in another conspiracy theory: the "witch hunt" in Russia's investigation.
"And then you see the people, and they were involved in that fraud of the false dossier, the false dossier," he said. "And I guess they feel that they are somehow involved or working with the people of GPS Fusion, who are committed – I mean, you look at what they did.
Peter Alexander of NBC then pressured Trump for his allegations of electoral fraud, and Trump mentioned the Fusion GPS company again.
"Do you have evidence of fraud?" Churches Alexander.
"I do not know, tell me," Trump replied. "It's still the Democrats, it's always GPS Fusion, it's always bad stuff."
Fusion GPS is a research company that was hired in 2016 by the law firm Perkins Coie, who represented the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, to investigate Trump's possible links with Russia. The GPS merger then hired the former British secret service officer Christopher Steele, who then compiled a series of unverified reports from his sources in Russia that led to the collusion between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign. .
These reports were compiled in a dossier that was released in January 2017 by the BuzzFeed news. Trump and his allies have grasped the unverified and salacious elements of the dossier to suggest that the entire investigation of Trump's campaign and Russian interference are groundless in themselves. Fusion GPS, in other words, is a central actor in Trump's fiction about how Russia's special investigator Robert S. Mueller III is unjustified or improper.
How has Fusion GPS been included in the Florida recount? Probably via Fox News. Media Matters has transcribed the Fox show host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening, shortly after Scott released his accusations against Broward election officials.
HANNITY: on election day, you earned 57,000 votes. What is the number now?
SCOTT: Now it has fallen to 15,000 votes, so it is clear that we have leftist activists, we have some Democratic lawyers in DC, I am here for a purpose, to steal these elections. …
HANNITY: I can not – for me, this is the single biggest abuse of power in an election I've seen, and they have Marc Elias the guy at the center of the entire Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS, Clinton bought and paid for the dossier, leader the way?
SCOTT: Yes. I mean, I'm down here, he's here for a purpose, to steal this election.
Once again, the change in the voting margin is a natural function of counting votes, not an indication of a conspiracy. But the introduction of Hannes by Fusion GPS into the mix is the important part of the dialogue.
The Washington Post reported for the first time on the connection between Perkins Coie and the dossier in October 2017. Elias hired Fusion GPS, in his capacity as campaign attorney. Elias has served as a lawyer for a number of democratic campaigns, including that of Nelson. So the connection from Broward County to Fusion GPS goes like this:
- Broward County is counting votes.
- Those votes, coming from a highly democratic area, are benefiting the campaign of Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
- Nelson's campaign lawyer once worked for Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016.
- During that time, he took on Fusion GPS.
- Fusion GPS has hired Christopher Steele.
- Steele has compiled a series of reports related to the ties between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and the Russian government.
Therefore, according to Trump, the vote count in Broward is perhaps influenced by the "dishonest" Fusion GPS.
It's a bit like a man who claims that his ex-wife is connected to the Mob because his divorce attorney worked for a crime boss. There is no evidence of electoral fraud in general, as recognized by Trump. The mention of Fusion GPS, like the invocation of Hannity, has the sole purpose of cheating the whole process of counting votes. It aims to influence the court of public opinion, in particular the supporters of Trump.
When asked about Russia's Friday investigation, Trump linked him to the Florida vote count again.
"This was something created by the Democrats," he said, "just as they created other things when you look at what happens in Florida when you look at what's happening in many different places."
Trump did not identify those other positions.
Later, en route to Europe, he tweeted: "You mean they are only now finding votes in Florida and Georgia – but the election took place on Tuesday? We blame the Russians and demand immediate excuses from President Putin!"