Trump blames media after Arizona audit finds Biden won

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE on Friday laid into the news media after a draft report of the 2020 election audit in Arizona reaffirmed President Biden’s victory in the state’s largest county and showed Trump with fewer votes than previously counted.

In a statement issued through his leadership PAC, Save America, the former president called the audit report, which is slated for release Friday afternoon, a political bombshell that “has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of FRAUD.”

“Huge findings in Arizona! However, the Fake News Media is already trying to ‘call it’ again for Biden before actually looking at the facts—just like they did in November!” Trump said, invoking once again his baseless claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

“This is a major criminal event and should be investigated by the Attorney General immediately,” he added. “The Senate’s final report will be released today at 4:00PM ET. I have heard it is far different than that being reported by the Fake News Media.”

In a subsequent statement, Trump went into even more detail, claiming that the audit uncovered evidence of so-called “phantom voters” – mail-in ballots from voters who no longer live at the address on their voter file – as well as people who cast ballots in multiple counties.

“This is not even the whole state of Arizona, but only Maricopa County. It would only get worse!” Trump said. “There is fraud and cheating in Arizona and it must be criminally investigated! More is coming out in the hearing today.”

While the draft report notes that 23,344 mail-in ballots were voted from a prior address, that doesn’t necessarily indicate intentional wrongdoing. For example, more than 15,000 people who voted by mail from a prior address moved within Maricopa County prior to the registration deadline, according to the draft.

The forensic audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, was initiated by the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate in the months after Trump became the first GOP presidential candidate since 1996 to lose the state.

The state Senate hired a Florida-based firm called Cyber Ninjas to lead the audit, which was funded largely by nonprofit groups tied to proponents of Trump’s rigged election claims.

A draft report that leaked ahead of the release of the official audit report, however, reaffirmed Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Maricopa County.

In fact, it showed the president winning 99 more votes than he did in the certified ballot count last year. Trump, meanwhile, came up 261 votes short of where he stood in last year’s official results.

Despite that, the draft report refrains from saying the findings are conclusive and recommends a series of legislative reforms to address some issues with the elections system. Nevertheless, the draft report doesn’t contain evidence of the kind of widespread voter fraud that Trump and his allies have alleged.

This story was updated at 11:59 a.m.