Introduction xi Trump to undermine faith in a fair election. After the election, Trump refused to accept the legitimacy of the outcome and repeatedly made statements that appeared to encourage the eventual insurrection. Research has documented a connection between distrust of democratic outcomes and acceptance of political violence that has been identified in Trump supporters since his first rallies as a candidate for the presidency in 2016 (Warner et al., 2019). Seven months before the November 3, 2020, election, Trump began undermining faith in mail-in ballots, calling them “very dangerous,” “cheat- ers,” and “fraudulent” (Inskeep, 2021, para. 7). He later told Fox News host Chris Wallace that mail-in voting would “rig the election” (Inskeep, 2021, para. 12). In the same interview with Wallace, Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the election. The Washington Post documented more than 150 instances in which Trump made similar claims about a fraudulent election (Kessler & Rizzo, 2020). In the first presidential debate, Wallace (serving as moderator) again pressed Trump to accept the outcome of the election and again Trump refused, citing what he referred to as ballot manipulation. Wallace also asked Trump to denounce right-wing militants who had been exacerbating vio- lence during the summer protests of police killings. When Trump asked for a name of an organization, Biden interjected, asking Trump to denounce the Proud Boys. Trump responded by saying the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by,” a statement that was celebrated by the organization online (Murphy, 2020). Members of the Proud Boys began including the phrase “stand back and stand by” in their online logos and sharing it with memes. Their leader, Enrique Tarro, said that he interpreted the message to mean that the Proud Boys should continue with their activity (Murphy, 2020). Because the election was being held during the COVID-19 pandemic, peo- ple were increasingly encouraged to vote by mail rather than gather at in- person voting locations. Trump’s focus on the legitimacy of mail-in votes strategically coincided, therefore, with an election in which many more votes would be cast by mail than in the past. The consequence of this uptick in mail-in balloting was that it took much longer to count the ballots and iden- tify who had won crucial states. Thus, although the election occurred on November 3, media organizations did not name Biden the victor until Novem- ber 7, 2020. Nevertheless, it was widely anticipated that Trump would declare victory on election night before most mail-in ballots had been counted—and indeed he did, saying “we did win this election” (Inskeep, 2020, para. 22). In the time between Trump declaring victory and Biden being named the winner, Trump repeatedly advanced false allegations of voter fraud. For example, Trump often tweeted about mail-in ballots being fraudulently man- ufactured to change the outcome in key states (Kessler & Rizzo, 2020). In one tweet sent on November 5, Trump claimed (in all caps), “If you count the legal votes, I easily win the election! If you count the illegal and legal votes,
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