Former DOJ official tells House committee Trump complained about Native Americans ‘being paid to vote’ in 2020 election

A former Justice Department official told the House committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol that Donald Trump complained that Native Americans were being paid to vote against him in the 2020 election.

Richard Donoghue, who served as Trump’s acting assistant attorney general in December 2020 and January 2021, said Monday that the former president had pressured justice officials to investigate alleged irregularities in Native American voting. Trump accused Native Americans of voter fraud, saying they cost him the election.

“The dead vote, Indians get paid to vote,” Trump said, according to Donoghue. “There’s a lot of fraud here.”

Donoghue refuted Trump’s baseless claim, telling the Committee, “We told him categorically that much of the information he gets is false and/or just plain unsupported by evidence.”

Unfazed, Trump repeated the lie about Native Americans in post-election interviews and rallies, including a June 5 speech for Republicans in North Carolina, where he spoke of alleged widespread voter fraud and claimed: “Indians get paid to vote in some states, including Arizona and Nevada, get paid to vote. You are not allowed to be paid to vote.

Trump’s false claims may stem, in part, from his disappointment that Native American voters played a key role in several swing states Biden won — including Wisconsin and Arizona — in the 2020 election.

The election results were consistent with a national poll of Native American voters ahead of the November contest. A Native News Online nationwide survey published ahead of the election found that its Native American readers and Indian country leaders overwhelmingly supported Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden. The survey of 519 American Indians and Alaska Natives from more than 200 tribes found that 68% planned to support Mr. Biden for president, with only 15% planning to support President Donald J. Trump.

Native American suffrage advocate Tom Rodgers (Blackfeet Nation) released a statement after Donoghue testified about Trump’s “false and damaging claims” that Native Americans were paid to vote in 2020.

“The big lie just got bigger,” Rodgers said in a statement posted on Twitter. “For nearly a century, every effort has been made to prevent Native Americans from voting, the fundamental rite of democracy. Many people have worked hard to break down these dark barriers, so that any Indigenous adult who wants to vote can vote.

“Trump’s baseless accusation that Native Americans were paid to vote in 2020 is consistent with a lifetime of his ignorant hateful remarks aimed at Native Americans. Trump’s words are the reason Native Americans will continue to vote in record numbers. This path gives us our voice.

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Nohemi M. Moore