By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors trying Donald Trump on charges of trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat will seek to show evidence of the former president’s claims about voter fraud in 2012 and 2016, according a court document filed on Tuesday.
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team noted that Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, in 2012 made “baseless claims” that ballot machines switched votes to Democratic incumbent Barack Obama from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and during his 2016 campaign claimed that a loss to Democrat Hillary Clinton would be the result of fraud.
“The defendant’s false claims about the 2012 and 2016 elections are admissible because they demonstrate the defendant’s common plan of falsely blaming fraud for election results he does not like, as well as his motive, intent and plan to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election results and illegitimately retain power,” prosecutors argued in the filing.
The case in Washington federal court is one of four criminal prosecutions facing Trump as he seeks to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Trump continues to argue that his 2020 loss to Biden was the result of widespread fraud, a false claim that was rejected by multiple courts, state reviews and members of Trump’s own administration.
Smith’s evidence also includes statements from Trump during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns in which he refused to commit to accepting the elections’ results.
Trump is scheduled to stand trial beginning in March on charges that he interfered in the counting of votes and sought to block Congress’ certification of the 2020 election. Prosecutors have accused Trump of spreading “destabilizing lies” about widespread voter fraud to sow distrust in the election.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and accused prosecutors of seeking to damage his 2024 campaign.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Smith’s filing.
(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski)