Far-Right Fake Lawyer Tom Fitton Helped Trump Write False Victory Speech Before 2020 Votes Were Even Counted

Far-right activist and Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton speaks to attendees at the 2019 Teen Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. July 23, 2019


Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The House select committee investigating the January 6th U.S. Capitol attacks revealed Thursday that Tom Fitton, the leader of a far-right group known for filing frivolous lawsuits, worked with then-president Donald Trump to develop a strategy of falsely declaring victory in the 2020 election before a single ballot had been counted.

Despite never having been an attorney, Fitton and his group Judicial Watch have been active in reactionary legal circles for decades, especially during Trump’s single term when the Judicial Watch head became one of many fringe figures who dramatically elevated their position in the Republican Party.

The Judicial Watch chief remains a strong influence on the ex-president and has been one of Trump’s key advisers on how to deal with the National Archives and Records Administration’s efforts to retrieve official government documents which Trump took with him after leaving office.

Delivering prepared remarks at a Thursday hearing of the House committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) revealed two email messages sent by Fitton to Trump White House officials in which he discussed a strategy of preemptively declaring victory based solely on votes that would be cast on November 3, 2020, that year’s Election Day.

In the weeks before the election in which Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump, numerous political and election experts predicted that Trump would appear to have a “Red Mirage” victory on Election Day even though he was still expected to lose based on public opinion surveys which consistently showed Biden ahead in most key states. In the leadup to the election, Trump had urged his supporters to avoid voting by mail which he falsely claimed was more prone to fraud. Biden and other Democrats had urged their supporters to vote by mail in order to avoid contracting Covid-19, which was killing thousands of Americans a day at the time.

Evidence and testimony provided by the select committee has shown that Trump privately knew he had lost to Biden but that he was being advised by far-right allies and advisers not to concede. Fitton was among those extremist activists promoting false theories about voting machines and switched ballots.

Days before the election, on Oct. 31, Fitton emailed White House officials a draft speech for Trump to deliver in which he would declare that “we had an election today — and I won.” Fitton advised Trump to pretend that there was an “Election Day deadline” for counting votes, even though no state has ever had such a requirement.

“Everyone knew that ballot counting would lawfully continue past Election Day,” Lofgren said. “Claiming that the counting on Election Night must stop before millions of votes had been counted was, as we now know, a key part of President Trump’s premeditated plan.”

The committee revealed that former Trump campaign manager and right-wing media impresario Steve Bannon discussed the strategy in an Oct. 31 meeting of having the president blatantly lie about the election results before they were even complete.

“What Trump’s going to do is declare victory… but that doesn’t mean he’s the winner. He’s just going to say he’s the winner,” Bannon said in a recording played by the committee. “If Biden’s winning, Trump is gonna do some crazy shit.”

On Election Day, Nov. 3, Fitton followed up with a second email to a White House secretary in which he claimed to have spoken to the president about the speech he had written for Trump to falsely proclaim victory. “Just talked to him about the draft below,” Fitton wrote.

Later that night, Trump executed the plan that Fitton and Bannon had advocated.

“We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said at a early-morning news conference on Nov. 4. “This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”

Fitton’s advice to cut voting counting short was a reversal of advice he delivered at an August 2020 conference held by a secretive Christian supremacist group he also heads called the Council for National Policy. During that meeting, Fitton had claimed that Democrats would try to illegally delay the counting of presidential election ballots so that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could become acting president.

“The left has war-gamed this out,” Fitton told the Washington Post in a subsequent interview about his comments. “And it could cause civil war.”

Long after Trump had left office following the failure of the mob he incited to overturn the Jan. 6, 2021 certification of Biden’s victory, Fitton has remained a close legal adviser to the ex-president, particularly in his efforts to illegally retain possession of official government documents that were supposed to be turned over to the National Archives.

In an August interview with a Christian nationalist news website, Fitton claimed that Trump did not have to turn over documents based on a 2012 lawsuit that Judicial Watch had lost after seeking to obtain audio recordings of interviews given by Bill Clinton to a historian. Those recordings, which were made by Clinton with a private citizen, were deemed to be Clinton’s personal property in a ruling by federal district court judge Amy Jackson.

Mainstream legal scholars have rejected Fitton’s interpretation of the ruling in the 2012 case, but his ideas seem to have strongly influenced Trump. CNN reported in August that the ex-president overruled his professional attorneys who had advised him to comply with the National Archives requests in favor of Fitton’s idea of refusing to give the agency anything.

(Candice Cole contributed to this report.)

TYT National Correspondent Matthew Sheffield reports about politics, media, and technology. Follow him on Twitter: @mattsheffield.