Speaking at his first virtual fundraiser since the 2020 election, Obama, a Democrat, said Trump’s claims undermined the legitimacy of U.S. elections and helped lead to other anti-democratic measures such as efforts to suppress the vote.
“What we saw was my successor, the former president, violate that core tenet that you count the votes and then declare a winner - and fabricate and make up a whole bunch of hooey,” Obama said.
Trump has continued to falsely claim that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud, which has been rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of his own administration.
“What’s been called ‘the big lie’ suddenly gains momentum,” which in turn has fueled moves by Republican-controlled legislatures to reduce access to voting and gain more control over voting operations, Obama said.
“Here’s the bottom line. If we don’t stop these kinds of efforts now, what we are going to see is more and more contested elections ... We are going to see a further de-legitimizing of our democracy,” he said, as well as “a breakdown of the basic agreement that has held this magnificent democratic experiment together all these years.”
Republican governors of Georgia, Arizona, Florida and Iowa have signed new voting restrictions into law this year, and state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Texas are trying to advance similar measures. These states will be battlegrounds in the 2022 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday sued to block the Georgia law, which tightened absentee ballot identification requirements, restricted the use of ballot drop-boxes, and allowed a Republican-controlled state agency to run local voting operations.
Obama said he believed the U.S. Senate will hold a new vote on a Democratic voting rights bill that Republicans blocked last week.
The fundraising call was for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee as the United States heads into the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts that will play a critical role in determining whether Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives next year. History and redistricting suggests they are likely to fail. Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone and Sonya Hepinstall