Politics

“Like A Dumb And Dumber Movie”: Top Pennsylvania Official Debunks Trump’s Baseless Voter Fraud Claims

“I wouldn’t even call them lawsuits. I would just say 'mandatorily entertained fabrications,'" Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said of the Trump team's efforts to overturn the election in an interview with NowThis Monday.

Pa Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks with supporters during a meet and greet campaign stop at the Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia on April 3, 2016, when he was running for Senate. He was elected Lt. Gov. in 2018. | Getty Images
Pa Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaks with supporters during a meet and greet campaign stop at the Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia on April 3, 2016, when he was running for Senate. He was elected Lt. Gov. in 2018. | Getty Images

If Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman could speak directly to President Donald Trump, here’s what the Democrat would say: “You did a great job in Pennsylvania.” The president “barnstormed the state, he understood this is how you win in Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said in an interview Monday with NowThis. “You energize these small counties and his base. And I was impressed.”

“I can be objective about it,” Fetterman continued. “I might disagree with somebody politically. I can say yeah, he played Pennsylvania as good as he could play it in the last ten days...but he just came up short. At this point, it’s time to just hang it up.”

Pennsylvania’s counties are going through the official certification process of the vote count Monday, along with Michigan, which has now voted to confirm the results that President-elect Joe Biden won. Biden has earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and is currently more than 6 million votes ahead in the popular vote count.

Fetterman — who has become more of a rising star in the Democratic Party since he was elected to the number two position in Pennsylvania in the 2018 midterm elections, thanks to his refreshingly candid approach to politics and public speaking — said he wouldn’t be surprised if Trump runs for the presidency again in 2024. And he’s made the point that the longer Trump drags out his baseless election fraud allegations, the harder he makes it for himself in the long run. 

“It demeans our democracy, it demeans the presidency, and it actually, I think, would diminish your argument to run again,” Fetterman said.

The lieutenant governor’s use of Twitter rivals Trump’s in that he’s been able to build popularity on and off the platform — but very much unlike the incumbent president, Fetterman tweets and deals in facts. And he is not at all shy about shooting down conspiracy theories that the president and his team promote.

When asked about the Trump campaign’s attempted legal blitz in his state — 13 suits filed and 13 lost, according to Biden campaign legal adviser Bob Bauer — Fetterman responded, “They’re not really legal challenges when you get right down to it, because a lawsuit involves actual evidence and an actual argument. And there wasn’t one single instance where they provided any of that.”

“I wouldn’t even call them lawsuits,” he continued. “I would just say ‘mandatorily entertained fabrications.’ And that’s what it is. And at some point, it all is going to end. And Joe Biden will be declared the winner in Pennsylvania.” 

It’s not just Democrats who are debunking Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. The Republican Secretary of State in Georgie, Brad Raffensperger, has been at odds with Trump and GOP senators including Lindsey Graham, who he alleged are trying to interfere with valid ballot counting. After a recanvassing of votes, Georgia certified its results Friday, once again cementing President-elect Biden as the winner.

On Saturday, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann, a Republican, dismissed another Trump lawsuit in a scorching judgment. He wrote “this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpaid in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

For Fetterman and an increasing number of Trump allies, the writing is on the wall. 

“We need to just bring this to a close. They've had three weeks and hundreds of lawyers on the ground in Pennsylvania, and not one single case [of alleged fraud] has emerged,” Fetterman said to NowThis Monday.

There were two instances of voter fraud in Pennsylvania — and both were Trump supporters

Ironically, Lt. Gov. Fetterman has pointed out that the two cases of fraud that state officials found in Pennsylvania actually came from Trump voters.

One “was a man in Luzerne County who was a registered Republican … [and] applied for a mail-in ballot to vote for the president” on behalf of his deceased mother, Fetterman said. Officials noted that the signatures did not match, and then discovered that the man’s mother had died five years ago. He was arrested and charged for voter fraud.

“Another one that emerged was in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where an older gentleman, a registered Republican, voted. [He] asked some kind of weird questions, like, ‘so what do you really need to vote?’ And then he left. And about an hour later, he came in wearing sunglasses and he tried to vote for his son who was a registered Democrat,” Fetterman said.

He added: “I mean, it’s like out of a ‘Dumb and Dumber’ movie, like Jeff Daniels trying to do it. And of course he got charged for voter fraud, too.

Fetterman pointed out that these two cases of attempted fraud show that the system works, and that election integrity is real and reliable. “The fact that both of these cases were flagged, again, whether they were Trump voters or not is immaterial — albeit very funny,” Fetterman said. “But the fact is that these two folks were snagged, and these votes were actually never cast, out of almost seven million, demonstrates how rare and impossible it is to do it — on one level, just one vote, let alone on some scale that could affect the race.”

He also said that the fraud claims are disingenuous because they only apply to the top of the ballot, not the bottom. “What’s so ridiculous in Pennsylvania is that the Republicans did really well down ballot in our state. I don’t hear one of them saying, you know, my race was rigged, too,” Fetterman noted.

Challenging the lieutenant governor of Texas on voter fraud claims

The lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, is a Republican who has offered a $1 million reward for proof of voter fraud. And Fetterman called his bluff.

“I’m like, well, hey dude, I got two cases here, where’s my handsome reward?” Fetterman said.

Patrick responded to one of Fetterman’s tweets and told him to take fraud seriously. When the PA official shared his two documented cases of attempted fraud, Patrick stopped responding.

“I said that the reward would go to the Pittsburgh Food Bank here locally, or even one in Texas. You see those tragic lines of all those hungry Texans,” Fetterman said, referring to images being shared of miles-long lines of cars waiting at a food bank in Dallas. “I would just say, pay up, dude. There are plenty of hungry people, either in the Pittsburgh area or in Texas, your choice.”

The Texas official “hasn't paid out a dime of rewards, you know, because he doesn't want that kind of fraud,” Fetterman continued. “He wants some weird conspiracy that doesn't exist. …. It just underscores just how fundamentally dishonest and dishonorable this whole thing has been.”

“A campaign to harm” democracy — will it last?

The lieutenant governor isn’t surprised by the conspiracy-mongering by Trump and his allies — but he didn’t think they would “necessarily carry it on this long.” 

Though more and more Republicans are increasingly coming forward to distance themselves from Trump’s clearly unsubstantiated claims, many of the party’s leaders are standing behind the president’s undemocratic moves. When asked if he’d like to see more GOPers step up and speak out, Fetterman said he would, “but as a practitioner of politics, I also understand the necessity of pandering to the lunatic-fringe, death-cult element of that party, too.”

“The last norm that President Trump will violate will be this idea that past presidents disappear, and they go paint, they do charity work, they become statesmen,” Fetterman continued, referring to the post-presidency careers of George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama. “He’s just going to keep lobbing these chaos grenades and punishing those that [are] disloyal or unwilling to kind of carry this narrative.” 

In a November 6 interview with NowThis, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) expressed a similar sentiment when asked why Republican House reps were going along with Trump’s election fraud charade: “I think my colleagues recognize that even when he is ushered out of the White House, he will continue to tweet at them, and the talking heads on Fox primetime will continue to berate them if the president so chooses. And so they remain silent, and they do so in the face of such flagrant dishonesty by the president of the United States. But we’re going to grow old, I think, waiting for these members of Congress to step up.”

Republicans continue to be split in their post-election loyalty to Trump. While the GOP state senate leader in Pennsylvania has said the state will follow the law and abide by election results, a congressional representative from the state has filed a lawsuit to overturn a law backed by Republicans. Rep. Mike Kelly filed suit Saturday to try another avenue at invalidating legal mail-in ballots, even though the universal mail-in voting law he is attacking was passed by a GOP-majority legislature in 2019. The law says eligible Pennsylvania voters can vote by mail without needing a reason.

“Let me be perfectly clear and factually based,” Fetterman said to NowThis. “Voting by mail in Pennsylvania is a Republican bill. This was their bill, and everything was signed off. So this idea now that they are trying to claim it’s unconstitutional or anything — it’s beyond weird.”

Another example of the anti-democratic absurdity came after the interview Monday, when some county Republicans refused to certify the vote even in the counties where Trump won.

“I know we've become desensitized to this absurdity and misinformation, but I haven't,” Fetterman said in the interview. “And I keep saying that yelling about fraud when there is none is not protected speech, this is not a quest for truth. This is a campaign to harm and damage our American franchise. And we all collectively must turn our backs on it.”

Watch the full interview here: