President Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that a “young military man” working in Afghanistan said elections there were “far more secure and much better run” than the U.S. presidential election of 2020, despite Taliban suicide bombings killing scores of innocent people during a 2019 Afghan presidential election that devolved into a monthslong political battle between candidates who both claimed victory.
“A young military man working in Afghanistan told me that elections in Afghanistan are far more secure and much better run than the USA’s 2020 Election,” Trump wrote on Twitter, sharing unsubstantiated and thoroughly debunked claims of widespread voter fraud in the United States. “Ours, with its millions and millions of corrupt Mail-In Ballots, was the election of a third world country. Fake President!”
The White House did not respond when asked what military branch the purported “young military man” served in or provide details of when and where the conversation occurred. (The president has often floated conspiracies using similarly-vague sourcing or invented nonexistent conversations.)
As William Saletan observed recently at Slate, Trump has for weeks undermined American democracy by spreading lies of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election, which saw Democratic challenger and former vice president Joe Biden defeat the incumbent Republican president by 306 to Trump’s 232 votes in the Electoral College. Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats have rejected nearly 60 lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign alleging voter fraud since election day.
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Attorney General William Barr said on Dec. 1, weeks after Trump fired his most senior cybersecurity official, a lifelong Republican, who declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”
The same could not be said of Afghanistan, where the presidential election on Sept. 28, 2019, saw only 2.2 million of 9.67 million registered Afghans vote amid Taliban threats of violence and attacks that resulted in dozens of security forces and civilians killed. Insurgent attacks also blocked highways and blew up communication towers that affected phone signals in large parts of the country, according to The New York Times.
Far from “better run,” Afghanistan initially failed to meet its deadline of having preliminary election results by Oct. 19, according to a U.S. watchdog report to Congress. Four months later, the country’s election commission declared Afghan President Ashraf Ghani the winner of the election, leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah to immediately dispute the result. Both sides claimed fraud. The election only came to an end on May 17 when the candidates ended a three-month impasse and agreed to an extraconstitutional power-sharing agreement brokered by the United States — an eerie re-run of 2014.
At one point in the bitter dispute, both candidates even took the oath of office as president of Afghanistan in a bizarre split-screen moment, according to The New York Times, as sirens blared and a barrage of rockets landed in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
So, if we can make any sense of the president’s tweet, it’s this: the “young military man working in Afghanistan” is probably made up and elections in Afghanistan are the complete opposite of “secure and better run.”
But at least President Trump hasn’t tweeted about SEAL Team 6 lately.