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DeSantis calls Trump’s 2020 election theories ‘unsubstantiated’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday dismissed the theories of election fraud central to former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election as “unsubstantiated.”

Breaking from his usual evasiveness when asked about his stance on Trump’s claims of a “stolen” election, DeSantis rejected the notion without mentioning his leading rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I’ve said many times the election is what it is,” he said, responding to a reporter’s question after a campaign event in Iowa. “All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true.”

The governor went on to clarify that the 2020 election was not “conducted the way I think that we want to, but that’s different than saying ‘Maduro stole votes,’ or something like that.”

The connection to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro referred to unsupported allegations made by former Trump attorney Sidney Powell after the election. Powell had baselessly linked late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as the creator behind certain voting machines.

The New York Times first reported DeSantis’ comments.

DeSantis’ remarks followed Trump pleading not guilty Thursday to federal charges accusing him of conspiring to stay in office after losing the 2020 election. Despite trailing Trump significantly in early presidential nomination polls, DeSantis hasn’t displayed the same level of forceful criticism toward Trump as former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Despite admitting to not having read the indictment, DeSantis posted on X, previously known as Twitter, advocating for changes to “end the weaponization of government” and grant Americans the ability to transfer cases to their home districts. Those proposed reforms align with Trump’s assertion that a fair trial in Washington would not have been possible.

“Washington, D.C., is a ‘swamp’ and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality,” he said.

Previously when asked by reporters whether the election was rigged, DeSantis has often redirected the conversation.

“I’ve been asked that a hundred different times. Anyone have a question on the topic of the day?” DeSantis said during a Florida press conference last year before going on to criticize the Jan. 6 hearings being held then.

Although he issued a statement calling the Capitol riot unacceptable that day, DeSantis has also refused to label the Jan. 6 attack as an “insurrection.” He reiterated that view last month in an interview with Russell Brand, blaming the press for having “spun up” the attack to “get as much mileage out of it and use it for partisan and political aims.”

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