Senator Says Trump's Voter Fraud Claims Are Exactly What Russia, Iran Want Americans to Believe

Maine Senator Angus King spoke out against President Donald Trump's recent comments and accusations about voter fraud in the upcoming election, saying that its exactly what adversaries like Russia and Iran would want Americans to believe during an interview on PBS' Firing Line.

The concept of “perception hack” explained:

“It’s creating a perception” of “unreliability” in the electoral process, says @SenAngusKing.

The Russians don't have to change votes, just convince enough Americans that they can or perhaps are trying to, he says,“and that's enough.”

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) October 29, 2020

King, an independent who is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke about possible interference, saying that Russia and Iran were trying to meddle in the election.

"They very much want to undermine our democracy and show the world that it doesn't really work," he said, before explaining that foreign powers have tried to interfere in U.S. elections many times throughout history.

Firing Line host Margaret Hoover asked if pre-existing doubts about the election process helped foreign powers influence elections. King said that many adversaries use "perception hacks," which he explained as "creating a perception of the unreliability, [and] distrust in the electoral process" to sow doubt among Americans.

The senator continued by saying that it was a challenge to keep people informed about adversaries trying to interfere without "do[ing] their work for them" and raising doubts by keeping people informed.

"If you think about it, this isn't much of a challenge for the Russians," King said. "All they have to do is convince a number, a lot of Americans that they can do it or maybe that they're trying to do it. And that's enough."

Hoover then asked about Trump's recent claims about the likelihood of increased voter fraud, saying that foreign powers like Russia and Iran were trying to share the same ideas.

"He is saying exactly what our adversaries are also saying and what they would want him to say," King explained. "[I]f he tells them the election is rigged or it's going to be rigged or you can't trust mail-in voting or all of those kinds of things, that's exactly—unfortunately, I hate to say this—but that's exactly what the Russians and the Iranians are trying to convince Americans of."

King then said that Trump should "be reassuring people about the integrity of our system" and called it a "profound disservice" to spread doubt about the process.

Later in the interview, Hoover asked King if there was evidence about voter information being changed or if Americans should be concerned about votes being changed. King responded "no" to both questions, but said that Russians infiltrating voting systems should still be on the radar.

"Although, again, why are the Russians going into voting systems?" he said. "You got to ask yourself, why are they doing it, and are they doing it just for fun or for some nefarious purpose? I don't think they're up to anything good."

.@MargaretHoover: Right now, is there evidence of voter information being changed?@SenAngusKing: "No. No."

Hoover: Is there evidence that we should worry about votes being changed?

King: "No, I don't think so," but "you've got to ask yourself, why are they doing it?"

— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) October 30, 2020

In an emailed statement to Newsweek Saturday, King emphasized the importance of voters being cautious about the information they take in and officials being careful, as they are targets for outside forces.

"American voters need to understand that we're under attack, and we likely will be facing this challenge through Election Day and beyond. The American people need to be skeptical and thoughtful about information they receive, and election officials need to be doubly cautious because they are being targeted," King said in a statement.

The Trump campaign did not respond to Newsweek's emailed request for comment in time for publication.

Updated 10:15 AM ET, with a statement from King.

Angus King
U.S. Sen. Angus King (ID-ME) speaks during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Getty/Alex Wong