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Guest op-ed: Maybe the election was stolen

By Doug Mortensen - | Sep 1, 2021

Doug Mortensen

Now that the smoke has cleared and emotions have receded a bit, one can see solid evidence that the election really may have been stolen. But not this one.

THE 2020 ELECTION WAS NOT STOLEN

Many Americans, it seems, have discounted the joint statement of the Federal Cybersecurity Agency and state election officials that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” and have also rejected those experts’ declaration that the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history.”

Despite those assurances, some 61 stolen election lawsuits were filed throughout the country. Each judge having opportunity to consider them on their merits (including Trump-appointed judges) found they had no merit. Rudy Giuliani, the loudest proponent of “the Big Lie,” has been suspended from the practice of law in New York and Washington, D.C., for spreading misinformation about the election. A five-judge New York Supreme Court appellate panel concluded that: “there is uncontroverted evidence that (Giuliani) communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in connection with (President) Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.”

Other lawyers, including most notably Sidney Powell, are presently under threat of sanctions for making spurious claims in the lawsuits they filed. Recently, two lawyers in Colorado were ordered to pay the attorney fees of each of the parties who had to defend themselves against their baseless stolen election claims.

Stolen election proponents claimed, among other things, that two major voting machine companies — Dominion and Smartmatic — were complicit in election fraud. Faced with the likelihood of defamation suits after the election, Fox News promptly issued on-air retractions through three of its personalities, claiming that the false assertions their viewers heard on their programs about voting machine tampering were merely the views of their guests, not their own. But the reputational damage already had been done. Both voting machine companies sued for defamation.

Smartmatic’s 285-page complaint catalogs the wildly incendiary and blatantly false claims made by Giuliani and Powell and promulgated by Fox News hosts Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro and Lou Dobbs. The lies were whoppers. They included claims that Smartmatic was a Venezuelan corporation founded by corrupt dictators and that its technology and software, specially designed to rig and fix elections, were used to change the results in six key battleground states. The truth? Smartmatic’s technology and software were used in only one county in the entire country — Los Angeles County — in a state where the contest was not close.

In short, the only evidence of election fraud not fabricated by persons who knew better shows that the 2020 election was not stolen from Donald Trump.

THE 2016 ELECTION LIKELY WAS STOLEN

Last year, a bipartisan U.S. Senate intelligence committee released the fourth volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. That Republican-chaired committee accepted and endorsed the findings of our country’s combined intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a far-ranging influence campaign approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin and aimed at helping Donald Trump win the White House.

An earlier volume of the report found that Russian operatives, “posing as U.S. political activists, requested — and in some cases obtained — assistance from the Trump Campaign in procuring materials for rallies and in promoting and organizing the rallies.” Russian operatives permeated all social media in alarming ways. Their top-performing, intentionally false stories during in the final three months of the campaign received more views than the top news stories from the 19 major news outlets. They included articles alleging that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump for president and that WikiLeaks had confirmed the false claim that Hillary Clinton had sold weapons to ISIS.

The findings of that Senate committee and our country’s intelligence agencies were reinforced by Robert Mueller, whose 448-page report details the sophisticated, far-reaching work of Russian operatives and the Russian military in planting disinformation disparaging Trump’s opponent and promoting Trump’s election.

The Russians targeted key battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania. They staged multiple rallies for Trump in both states. They paid an actress to portray Hillary Clinton in prison garb and had her sometimes placed in a cage, which they had paid others to buy. They advertised rallies in Pennsylvania with a poster showing the coal-blackened face of a miner suggesting Trump would “Bring Back our Jobs” and pleading, “Help Mr. Trump Fix It.” They hacked and published private emails. They bought ads on Facebook. They tweeted and sent emails in the names of fictitious Americans. Their messages aimed to foment hatred for Clinton and allegiance to Trump. Trump won both Florida and Pennsylvania, by very narrow margins.

In his only statement directly to the public following submission of his report, Mueller pointedly declared that his finding of Russia’s “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election deserves the attention of every American.”

The findings of Mueller, U.S. intelligence agencies and the U.S. Senate select committee coincide on these points: The Russians spread vast disinformation designed to help Trump and harm Clinton; the disinformation was repeatedly seen and heard by millions of Americans; and the Putin-directed efforts to interfere in presidential elections would likely continue.

Although those who reached these findings were too prudent to suggest the election result would have been different without Russian participation, they published facts from which an objective person could so conclude.

The insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol building, their sympathizers and the millions of Americans who believed (and still believe) the 2020 election was stolen should ask themselves: Why did Putin want the same thing they wanted, and where did they get the information that made them want it so badly?

Douglas G. Mortensen is a Salt Lake attorney who lives in Millcreek. His reading includes the Smartmatic complaint, the Mueller report, and the reports of the U.S. Senate Select Committee cited above. He views with distrust the opinions of news personalities who ignore such documents or inaccurately report their contents.

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