Trump calls for 'election integrity' again. It's same ploy he used in 2020 and 2016.

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee called Friday for more than "100,000 dedicated volunteers and attorneys" to help run an "election integrity program" this year.

That's the next step in the election disinformation campaign that Trump will wage until Nov. 5, enabled by the RNC.

How do I know? Because that's exactly what Trump and the RNC did in the months before he won the presidency in 2016 and in the months before he lost his bid for a second term in 2020.

So many things about this election are difficult to predict. This is an easy call.

It follows a pattern. Trump will lie about past elections while warning of looming fraud. He and the RNC will file a flurry of legal challenges that read more like efforts to circulate duplicity and less like cogent arguments about law.

Trump still claims 2020 election was stolen

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) hold a press conference at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on April 12, 2024, in Palm Beach, Florida. They spoke about "election integrity," which has been one of the former president's top issues.

Consider what Trump had to say during his last campaign rally, on April 13 in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, before starting his first criminal trial in New York: "The election was rigged. Pure and simple, 2020 was rigged. It was a disgrace. We could never let it happen again.”

Will Trump trial impact voters? I asked Trump supporters if they're worried about his Stormy Daniels trial.

And let's go back to the months before the 2016 election and focus on Pennsylvania, because that's where I was, writing about Trump's campaign.

Trump, in the last three months before the 2016 election, claimed at rallies in suburban and exurban Pennsylvania that voter fraud in Philadelphia could kill his chance to win the state.

As an example, he said that U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney didn't win a single vote in 50 of the 1,687 voting divisions in Philadelphia as the Republican nominee for president in 2012.

That claim fell apart with just a little scrutiny.

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania | Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump dances as he departs after speaking at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall on April 13, 2024. Hundreds of supporters waited hours in a line stretching for more than a mile to see Trump speak in a suburb of Allentown, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley.

The chair of Philadelphia's Republican Party in 2016 told me then it was unsurprising that Romney in 2012 received no votes in the divisions, which were and are overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhoods home to mostly Black voters who backed then-President Barack Obama.

Trump and the RNC ignored that obvious context and kept pressing the baseless claim of voter fraud, rushing to ask a federal judge in a failed effort to upend Pennsylvania's election code's qualifications for who can be a poll watcher. The judge in that case, a former Republican state attorney general, noted that the Republican-controlled state legislature had opted against making that change.

The Republican Party in 2016 called that "a blow to openness and transparency" in elections. Because context wasn't the point. Pushing the message of alleged voter fraud was all that mattered.

Trump made false fraud claims before Election Day

Trump used the same bag of tricks in 2020, as Pennsylvania expanded its use of mail ballots just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

That put Pennsylvania's Republican Party in a difficult position − urging voters to use mail ballots while supporting Trump's lies about them being overly susceptible to fraud.

Trump bashes mail-in voting: Trump keeps lying about 2020 mail ballots. It could hurt Republicans in November.

Trump took his attacks on Philadelphia and Pennsylvania national that year, declaring in a debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden that "bad things happen in Philadelphia" when it comes to voting.

Trump made that claim because his campaign sent supporters to watch as people dropped off early ballots at satellite elections offices in the city. Pennsylvania poll watchers are not allowed in those locations. And Trump's campaign had no certified poll watchers at the time.

For him, enforcing the law is proof that he is somehow a victim of the law. Trump's campaign sued Philadelphia for following the law. Again, the point was not to win in court. It was to keep pushing talk of voter fraud.

Those legal challenges kept coming in Pennsylvania and other states after Election Day, as Trump insisted he had won an election he lost.

Trump's simplistic rationale is unchanged four years later – he was winning in many states as in-person votes were tallied after the polls closed in 2020. Biden, however, caught up to him when mail ballots were tallied in the days immediately after the election. So the mail ballots must have been rife with fraud, Trump claims.

But Trump's lawyers struck out in case after case, sometimes while arguing in front of judges Trump had appointed. Their arguments were so frivolous and unsubstantiated that his lead lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was recommended for disbarment based on his actions in a Pennsylvania case.

Thinking of volunteering as an attorney for Trump? You'll be working without a net. Just ask Rudy.

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This isn't just about disinformation. Trump and the RNC want your money, too. The party last week texted Trump supporters this: “We still need more patriots in your area to sign up to volunteer as poll watchers.” The text included a link that led to an RNC fundraising website that made no mention of poll watching.

The Democratic National Committee on Friday knocked the RNC election team's plans as cover for Trump's "humiliating defeat" by Biden four years ago.

"Donald Trump knows he's running a losing campaign, so he's working with his handpicked team of election deniers at the RNC to once again lay the groundwork to undermine our democracy and spread baseless lies about a rigged election," Alex Floyd of the DNC declared in a statement.

Over at the RNC they were still blaming Democrats for the 2020 loss, but not because Biden won the states needed to secure the Electoral College.

"The Democrat tricks from 2020 won't work this time," new RNC chief counsel Charlie Spies said in a statement Friday. "In 2024 we're going to beat the Democrats at their own game and the RNC legal team will be working tirelessly to ensure that elections officials follow the rules in administering elections."

Spies, speaking in 2021 at the Conservative Political Action Conference, drew ridicule and heckling for refuting other baseless claims about the 2020 election, including one that said voting machines flipped ballots from Trump to Biden. So he now knows want his audience wants to believe.

They want to hear the horror story of voter fraud. They don't care if the monster isn't real.

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