Yes, President Trump’s claims of fraud go back to Iowa’s 2016 caucuses

Following President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, tweeters wrote that Trump also claimed Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 Iowa caucuses win was because of fraud. Trump, indeed, made those 2016 claims.

Yes%2C+President+Trump%E2%80%99s+claims+of+fraud+go+back+to+Iowa%E2%80%99s++2016+caucuses

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter


PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.


Edited by Lyle Muller and Sarah Watson

If your time is short

  • Following President Donald Trump’s claims that ballots in the 2020 election were fraudulent in some swing states, social media tweeters wrote that Trump claimed that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s win in the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses was because of fraud.
  • Iowa’s precinct caucuses kicked off the 2016 presidential selection process that eventually gave Trump the presidency.
  • This year’s tweeters have good memories; Trump called Cruz’s Iowa win the result of fraud.

President Donald Trump telegraphed that he’d claim voter fraud in the November election and carried through with tweets about his unfounded claims of fake votes while simultaneously filing election-related lawsuits. 

Republicans came to Trump’s aid. They included Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who defeated Trump in Iowa’s 2016 first-in-the-nation presidential precinct caucuses when Cruz also sought his party’s nomination to be president. 

“I believe President Trump still has a path to victory, and that path is to count every single legal vote that was cast, but also not to [count] any votes that were fraudulently cast or illegally cast. And we have a legal process to determine what’s legal and what isn’t,” Cruz said in a Nov. 8 Fox News interview on the Sunday Morning Futures program. 

On Nov. 11, Cruz told conservative commentator Steven Crowder that overturning the election required Trump’s legal team to run the table in its court challenges to voting in several states: 

“I’ve talked with President Trump and with Jared Kushner and with the White House. What I’ve told them is they need serious lawyers to present evidence at this point. It can’t be won or lost in the world of social media, it’s got to be facts and evidence in court. And by the way, you can do it.”

After Cruz’s comments, some Twitter users noted on the social media platform that they had heard about voter fraud before — after Iowa’s 2016 caucuses. 

“Trump is playing you. Before the election even started he admitted he was going to claim fraud if he lost. When he lost the Iowa caucus to Ted Cruz in 2016 he immediately cried that Cruz cheated…”

“…Trump has a history of claiming ‘fraud’ whenever he loses.  Remember the Iowa Caucuses from 2016 with Ted Cruz?” 

Rachel Maddow, of MSNBC, quoted a story by colleague Steve Benen: “Four years ago yesterday, one GOP presidential hopeful – I believe his name was Donald J. Trump – tweeted, ‘Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified’.”

A look at Twitter confirms Trump’s post-Iowa tweets from 2016.

Trump tweeted several times on Feb. 3, 2016, about Cruz’s win in a caucus system that collects presidential preference votes from Republicans who caucus but no formal, binding vote. In one post-caucuses tweet, Trump wrote, “Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.” 

In another: “Cruz did not win Iowa, he stole it.” The tweets came two days after the caucuses and after Trump’s concession speech In Iowa. “We finished second,” he said in that speech. “And I want to tell you something, I’m just honored. I’m really honored. And I want to congratulate Ted [Cruz].”

Following Trump’s comments that the caucuses were fraudulent, Cruz took to Twitter, calling Trump’s reaction “yet another #Trumpertantrum.”

When Cruz was asked in 2016 about his comments in a Goffstown, New Hampshire, news conference Cruz said Trump was a person who “finds it very hard to lose.” When Trump loses, “he blames everybody else. It’s never Donald’s fault,” Cruz said, according to The New York Times story from the news conference. 

The Des Moines Register reported that former Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn called Trump’s claims of voter fraud “an absurd allegation.”

A 2019 book, “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump,” reported that Trump urged Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann to invalidate the results of the 2016 caucuses. 

Trump abandoned his efforts in Iowa as he went on to win other state primaries and eventually the nomination. 

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, whose office did not have a role in the party-run caucus preference poll, said Iowa Republicans would not invalidate the 2016 caucus results for any reason when asked in a 2019 interview.

“Iowa has got a good reputation,” Pate said on the Iowa PBS program, Iowa Press, in July 2019. “I have confidence that we’ll keep our integrity there, and we’ll make sure our caucuses are run on the up and up.”

Our ruling

Twitter users said President Trump claimed the Iowa caucuses in 2016 were fraudulent. Trump tweeted a handful of times on Feb. 3, 2016 about Ted Cruz stealing the election and the votes being fraudulent. We rate the Twitter users’ claims to be True.


Sources

Associated Press, “Here’s the reality behind Trump’s claims about mail-in voting,” by Nicholas Riccardi, Sept. 30, 2020

MSNBC.com, “When it comes to Iowa, Trump throws stones from a glass house,” by Steve Benen, Feb. 4, 2020

Various 2020 posts by Twitter users

Donald Trump Twitter posts

Ted Cruz Twitter posts

Foxnews.com, “Cruz insists Trump ‘still has a path to victory,’ vote count lawsuits could ‘easily’ reach Supreme Court” by Evie Fordham, Nov. 8, 2020

CrowderBits on YouTube, “Ted Cruz Breaks Down The Election Legal Battle | Louder with Crowder” by Steven Crowder, Nov. 11, 2020

Frank Martin Twitter posts 

The New York Times, Iowa Caucus Results, 2016

The New York Times, “Donald Trump Says Ted Cruz Stole Victory in Iowa Caucuses” by Maggie Haberman and Matt Flegenheimer, Feb. 3, 2020

The Des Moines Register, “Trump: Cruz ‘stole’ victory in Iowa caucuses” by Matthew Patane, Feb. 3, 2020

The Quad-City Times,Would Iowa Republican Party toss caucus results? No, Paul Pate says” by Erin Murphy, July 14, 2019

Iowa PBS, “Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate,” July 12, 2019

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