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New Evidence Shows How Trump Planned to Falsely Declare Victory and Steal the Election

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“It was premeditated.”

The congressional committee investigating January 6 on Thursday revealed new evidence that Donald Trump had a preexisting plan to falsely declare victory on election night in 2020—part of a plot to use made-up voting fraud claims in an attempt to retain power.

For the second time, the committee played leaked audio first reported by Mother Jones in which Trump adviser Steve Bannon, during an October 31, 2020, meeting, said that Trump had a “strategy” to prematurely assert he had won on Election Day. Explaining the so-called “red mirage,” in which Trump would show early leads in key states before mail-in ballots favoring Joe Biden were counted, Bannon said: “Trump’s going to take advantage of it. That’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner.”

“He’s gonna declare victory,” Bannon said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”

On November 1, 2020, before Election Day, Axios first reported Trump’s plan. But Trump denied it at the time. And he and his supporters have since claimed that he was not lying when he announced—just hours after the polls had closed—that he had won. He legitimately believed election fraud cost him victory, they claim.

The committee, however, presented new evidence Thursday that Trump actually knew he had lost—he admitted it to aides—and that his victory declaration was part of plan to rally his supporters to help him stay in office anyway.

“This Big Lie—President Trump’s effort to convince Americans that he had won the 2020 election—began before the election results even came in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said during Thursday’s hearing. “It was intentional. It was premeditated. It was not based on election results, or any evidence of actual fraud affecting the results, or any actual problems with voting machines. It was a plan concocted in advance, to convince his supporters that he won. And the people who seemingly knew about that plan in advance would ultimately play a significant role in the events of January 6.”

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