Barack Obama has condemned Donald Trump’s ongoing attempts to undermine 2020 presidential election results with a warning that the former Republican president’s campaign to contest his decisive loss – based on “a whole bunch of hooey” – will continue to inspire similar attempts to discredit election outcomes.
Mr Obama, speaking to a virtual fundraiser for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee with former attorney US Attorney General Eric Holder and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that his successor’s baseless claims and conspiracy theories have legitimised other attempts from GOP officials to toss out results.
“What we saw was my successor, the former president, violate that core tenet that you count the votes and then declare a winner – and fabricate and make up a whole bunch of hooey,” Mr Obama said on 28 June.
“If we don’t stop these kinds of efforts now, what we are going to see is more and more contested elections,” he added. “We are going to see a further de-legitimising of our democracy … and a breakdown of the basic agreement that has held this magnificent democratic experiment together all these years.”
Mr Trump undermined the legitimacy of mail-in ballots for months, before a single ballot was cast in 2020 elections, while his legal team mounted a spurious legal bid to toss out millions of ballots in states that he lost, while his attorneys and allies amplified baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, or suggested that Democrats conspired to manipulate ballots to ensure his loss.
The former president’s own elections commission, campaign attorneys, the Justice Department, FBI and elections officials from both parties across the US have not found any evidence of widespread fraud.
Following an attempted insurrection at the US Capitol, fuelled by the false “stolen election” narrative, a right-wing lobby-backed campaign to protect “election integrity” and “voter confidence” helped draft legislation in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the US to make it more difficult to vote by rolling back mail-in ballot and early voting options and stripping election oversight from elections administrators and giving it to GOP lawmakers and Republican-appointed agencies.
Senate Republicans blocked a sweeping voting rights bill that sought to combat nationwide voting restrictions, and the US Department of Justice has sued the state of Georgia over its elections law for violating the Voting Rights Act.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama also urged Congress to pass legislation to combat those measures “before it’s too late”.
Mr Obama said he believes that the US Senate will attempt a new vote on the For The People Act.
President Joe Biden told the fundraiser that the “sacred right to vote” is “under assault in ways that I haven’t seen in my entire career, and that’s what got me involved in the first place”.
“It’s about who gets to vote and whether the vote counts,” he said. “And we have a system that does both with integrity and independence. But the Republicans want to do what no political party has ever tried to do: get to decide if your vote counts. It’s outrageous.”