Fact check: Trump lies that Senate Democrats stole the 2020 election, baselessly accuses NBC’s owner of treason

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Former President Donald Trump made a series of inflammatory social media posts on Sunday in which, among other things, he lied that Senate Democrats rigged the 2020 election and baselessly accused the company that owns NBC and MSNBC of treason.

Since November 2020, when Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden, he has lied dozens of times that the free and fair election was “rigged” and “stolen.” In a post on Sunday, Trump added an additional false claim on top of the usual false claim – this time declaring that Senate Democrats perpetrated the (nonexistent) election theft.

Trump was addressing last week’s federal indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, on corruption charges Menendez denies. Trump asked why the FBI doesn’t raid the homes of “Senate Democrat’s” like it searched his Florida home last year for classified documents he had retained after his presidency – baselessly calling that court-approved search illegal. Then he added that “Menendez is a ‘piker’ compared to some of those Election Stealing THUGS.”

Later in the post, after making baseless allegations about Biden, Trump returned to the topic of Senate Democrats: “I wonder how much they got paid for Rigging the Election? Menendez is one of many, a small timer at that. EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD RESIGN FROM THE SENATE!”

Facts First: The 2020 election wasn’t rigged or stolen – and Senate Democrats could not possibly have rigged or stolen it. First, the Senate was controlled by Republicans at the time of the election and the subsequent counting of the electoral votes. Second, the Senate had a minimal role in the election.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a Monday request to explain what he was talking about.

Trump has repeatedly complained about various voting policies that states put in place for the pandemic-era election, such as rules making it easier to vote by mail, but those policies were set by the states themselves, not the Trump-era federal government – much less by Senate Democrats in particular. And while Trump had urged members of Congress to reject Biden electoral votes during the count in early 2021, there was no valid reason for the members to do so.

The Senate voted 93-6 to reject an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes and 92-7 to reject an objection to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. “In other words, under the Republican-controlled Senate, objections to the electoral votes in the 2020 election were overwhelmingly rejected by Republicans and Democrats,” said Michael Thorning, director of Structural Democracy at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank.

Aside from matters related to the electoral count, Thorning said he could think of only one other role the Senate played in the 2020 election. It approved emergency funding to help states securely hold the election amid the pandemic – and Trump himself signed that funding into law in 2020 as part of a larger pandemic relief bill.

In another Sunday social media post, Trump called for an investigation into Comcast, the company that owns NBC and MSNBC – writing that “Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason.’” He vowed that, if he wins the presidency again, “they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized” over their coverage.

Facts First: There is simply no basis for the claim that news coverage Trump doesn’t like is “treason.”

It’s perhaps worth noting that the week prior to this post, Trump took part in an extended sit-down interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” – and promoted that interview to his supporters.

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

In a third Sunday post, Trump claimed that The Washington Post had admitted an error in its reporting of a Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed him with a 10-percentage-point lead over Biden among registered voters. (The Post’s article on the poll said that the result was “probably an outlier” given how much it differs from other public polling.)

Trump wrote, “The WAPO has just increased my polling lead over Crooked Joe Biden to 10 Points, from 9. Well, at least they admitted their mistake! This could be the beginning of a giant comeback for what has become known as the LameStream Media. Would also be a Big Day In America!”

Facts First: Trump’s claim that the Post acknowledged a mistake in its reporting of the poll is false. The Post’s article always correctly said the poll showed Trump with a 10-point lead over Biden among registered voters, 52% to 42%. ABC News, conversely, has reported that the poll showed Trump with a 9-percentage-point lead, because ABC was citing the poll’s results among all adult respondents rather than only the registered voters.

It’s possible that Trump was genuinely confused by the two outlets having used slightly different numbers, but his claim that the Post made a change to its reporting of the numbers is wrong regardless.

Trump also addressed the poll in another Sunday post, blasting ABC for supposedly refusing to report on his big lead over Biden. He wrote: “To show everyone how FAKE the News Media is, ABC WORLD NEWS on Sunday Morning, their big News Show, covered every aspect of a Poll on Crooked Joe Biden, except for the biggest and most important FACT, that he was losing to a person known as DONALD J. TRUMP by a staggering 10 Points.”

In fact, ABC’s Sunday morning political show, “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” did discuss how the poll showed Trump with a big lead over Biden (again using the 9-point figure for all adults). Its nightly news show, “World News Tonight,” did not mention that data point, but Trump was exaggerating when he said that show “covered every aspect” of the poll; the show mentioned three other results from the poll, all of them poor for Biden.

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