Trump ramps up attacks on ballots after 'trickster' Roger Stone calls them 'corrupted'

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Trump's claim that absentee ballots are fraudulent has been pushed by Stone, a convicted felon, on a conspiracy website.

Donald Trump's lies about voting by mail have escalated over the past few weeks. Trump falsely claimed at Tuesday night's presidential debate that there would be "tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated" in the 2020 election, and because of that he "can't go along" with accepting the results if he loses.

Trump's lie-filled fear-mongering about absentee ballots came days after he told reporters that his plan to stay in power is to "get rid of the ballots."

Trump's latest rhetoric comes days after Roger Stone, a convicted felon and a longtime Trump ally, made similar assertions on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' Infowars network.

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In a Sept. 10 appearance, Stone said that "the ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state" because "they are completely corrupted."

Stone went on to assert that "we can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now."

However, that claim was almost immediately dismantled. Just days later, on Sept. 18, a judge threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit against expanded absentee voting in Nevada because the Trump campaign could not provide any proof of fraud. Trump's campaign was also unable to provide any proof of mail-in voting fraud in a separate lawsuit it filed in Pennsylvania.

In the same appearance, Stone also suggested Trump use legal challenges "with the specific task of forming an Election Day operation using the FBI, federal marshals, and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity."

At the debate Tuesday night, Trump echoed this sentiment as well, saying that he may depend on the Supreme Court to overturn the election results and urging his supporters to "watch" the polls in Philadelphia, a predominantly Democratic city — leading to concerns that Trump supporters will intimidate voters.

"I'm urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen," Trump said at the debate. "I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They're called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things. And I am urging my people. I hope it's going to be a fair election."

Trump's comments about Philadelphia were false. Trump supporters were removed from an elections office because they were not legally permitted to be there, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. And Democrats won a lawsuit in the state in September that would prevent people from coming from outside of a county to watch polls and intimidate voters.

This is not the first time Stone has tried to sow chaos in elections.

In 2000, he helped organize the "Brooks Brothers Riot" that stopped recount efforts in Florida's Miami-Dade county.

Stone also tried to help get "poll watchers" for Trump in the 2016 election.

Legal experts worry that rhetoric from people like Trump and Stone could cause voter intimidation, and even violence.

After Trump's poll-watching comment at Tuesday's debate, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford came out with a statement reminding people that voter intimidation is illegal in his state.

"Trump also told 'his supporters' to 'go into the polls and watch very carefully.' But he wasn't talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation," Ford tweeted. "FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted."

Trump commuted Stone's more than three-year prison sentence for obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress, days before Stone was set to go to prison, leading to accusations that Trump was giving preferential treatment to his friends.

Stone is a self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" who has been engaged in political operations since the 1970s, including hiring someone to infiltrate then-Sen. George McGovern's presidential campaign. He was in contact with Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign — work that ultimately led to his conviction.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.