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    Trump Makes Baseless Claims About Immigration and Voter Fraud

    Fresh off his trip to the southern border earlier this week, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday baselessly suggested that President Biden had “smuggled” violent anti-American forces across the border.At a pair of rallies in North Carolina and Virginia, Mr. Trump — who has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of the 91 felony counts he currently faces in four separate criminal trials — broadly and without evidence asserted that Mr. Biden’s border policy amounted to a “conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America.”Mr. Trump has previously suggested without evidence that Democrats were encouraging migrants to cross the border illegally in order to register them to vote. On Saturday, he told crowds in Greensboro, N.C., and Richmond, Va., that he believed Mr. Biden was “giving aid and comfort” to America’s foreign enemies.He went on to frame this year’s election as a question of “whether the foreign armies Joe Biden has smuggled across our border will be allowed to stay or whether they will be told to get the hell out of here and go back home.”Mr. Trump has frequently blamed the surge of migrants at the border on Mr. Biden and Democrats, who he claims are too lenient on those who cross illegally. But there is no evidence to support the claim that Mr. Biden has trafficked migrants across the border.Nor is there evidence to suggest that Democrats have been encouraging the surge of migrants at the border in order to register them illegally to vote, one of many claims that Mr. Trump has made as he has promoted widespread and frequently debunked assertions of voter fraud in the 2020 election.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Pakistani Official Admits to Helping Rig Vote

    The surprising confession appeared to lend weight to accusations by Imran Khan’s party that the military had tampered with the vote count in dozens of races.A senior Pakistani official confessed on Saturday to helping manipulate results in the country’s elections — a startling claim strengthening a sense that the vote was among the least credible in Pakistan’s history, and deepening the turmoil that has seized the country ever since people went to the polls this month.The official, Liaquat Ali Chatha, is a top administrative official in Punjab Province overseeing Rawalpindi, a garrison city where the military has its headquarters, and three adjacent districts. He said he would resign from his position and turn himself in to the police.“We converted losers into winners, reversing margins of 70,000 votes of independent candidates for 13 national Parliament seats,” he said at a news conference on Saturday, referring to moving votes from independent candidates aligned with Imran Khan, the former prime minister whose party the military had sought to sideline ahead of the vote. He suggested other high-ranking officials had been a part of the scheme, and said he was unable to sleep at night after “stabbing the country in its back.”Mr. Chatha’s admission came just over a week since Pakistanis went to the polls for the first time since Mr. Khan fell out with the military and was ousted by Parliament in 2022. Most had expected an easy victory for the party backed by the country’s powerful military, but instead, candidates aligned with Mr. Khan won more seats than any other party, though they fell short of a simple majority.Mr. Khan was not on the ballot, being imprisoned and disqualified from running for office after convictions for crimes his supporters called trumped-up, yet the victory was clearly his. It was one of the biggest upsets in electoral history in Pakistan, where the military has typically engineered election results by winnowing the field of candidates using intimidation, clearing the way for its preferred party to win.The success of candidates aligned with Mr. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., upended that playbook and pushed the country’s political scene into uncharted territory.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    At Rally in Michigan, Trump Lashes Out at Judge Who Fined Him $355 Million

    Former President Donald J. Trump vented about his latest legal defeat to freezing supporters at a Michigan rally on Saturday night, a day after a New York judge fined him nearly $355 million plus interest in his civil fraud case.The Republican front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination, Mr. Trump denied that he had conspired to manipulate his net worth, which he was found liable of by Justice Arthur F. Engoron in a ruling that could wipe out Mr. Trump’s entire cash stockpile.“This judge is a lunatic,” he said in his opening salvo at his rally, held inside an airport hangar in Oakland County about 30 miles from Detroit.Mr. Trump used a similar line of attack against Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, who had accused him of exaggerating his wealth in the lengthy case. Barred by the judge for three years from serving in top roles at any New York company, including portions of his own Trump Organization, Mr. Trump cast aspersions on the justice system and said he had been persecuted.Mr. Trump’s visit to Michigan overlapped with the first day of early, in-person voting in the state, which is using both a primary and a caucus-style convention to award delegates for the first time in Republican Party contests.At the rally, the Trump campaign placed large signs urging supporters to take advantage of early voting.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    What Happens Next in Pakistan’s Politics?

    As supporters of Imran Khan lodge complaints of vote rigging in hopes of increasing their lead, his opponents are jockeying to form a government.Imran Khan’s stunning performance in Pakistan’s national election has upended most traditional political forecasts in a country where leaders who run afoul of the powerful military rarely find electoral success.Supporters of Mr. Khan, the jailed former prime minister, are both electrified by the showing of candidates aligned with his party, who won the most seats in last week’s vote, and enraged by what they call blatant rigging and the possibility that other parties will ultimately lead the government.Here’s what to know about the uncertainty now hanging over Pakistan’s political system.What’s next for the government?Mr. Khan’s supporters are challenging the results of dozens of races in the country’s courts, and pressure is growing on Pakistan’s Election Commission to acknowledge the widely reported irregularities in the vote counting.Backers of Mr. Khan say they will hold peaceful protests outside election commission offices in constituencies where they contend the rigging took place. Protests have already erupted in several parts of the country, especially in the restive southwestern Baluchistan Province.As of midday Sunday, the Election Commission had not finalized the results from Thursday’s vote. Preliminary counts showed victories for 92 independents (primarily supporters of Mr. Khan, whose party was barred from running), with 77 seats going to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and 54 going to the third major party, the Pakistan People’s Party, or P.P.P.Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the P.M.L.N. party, speaking to his supporters in Lahore on Friday.Rahat Dar/EPA, via ShutterstockWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Ronna McDaniel, R.N.C. Chairwoman, Plans to Step Down

    The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, has told former President Donald J. Trump she is planning to step down shortly after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, according to two people familiar with the plans.Mr. Trump is then likely to promote the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, Michael Whatley, as her replacement, according to several people familiar with the discussions. Under the arcana of the committee’s rules, however, Mr. Trump cannot simply install someone. A new election must take place, and Mr. Whatley could face internal party dissent.Ms. McDaniel has faced months of pressure, a campaign from Trump-allied forces to unseat her and growing dissatisfaction and anxiety in the Trump camp about the strained finances of the R.N.C. as the general election cycle begins early.Mr. Trump likes Mr. Whatley for one overwhelming reason, according to people who have discussed him with the former president: He is “a stop the steal guy,” as one of the people described him. He endorses Mr. Trump’s false claims about mass voter fraud and Mr. Trump believes he did a good job delivering North Carolina, a 2020 swing state, to him.Mr. Whatley has baselessly claimed that election security efforts from Republicans in North Carolina stopped Democrats from cheating. He is also currently the general counsel at the Republican National Committee and has endorsed efforts to develop new voting laws.Mr. Trump and his associates have made focusing on election security a signature point they plan to push in a general election. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud related to the 2020 voting, and Mr. Trump’s allies lost dozens of court challenges. Mr. Trump has told associates that he thinks the R.N.C. needs to spend more money on “election integrity” in the 2024 race. Mr. Trump’s team is also focused on hiring teams of poll watchers, which the North Carolina G.O.P. did during the midterms in 2022.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Inside the Heritage Foundation’s Plans for ‘Institutionalizing Trumpism’

    Since taking over the Heritage Foundation in 2021, Kevin D. Roberts has been making his mark on an institution that came to prominence during the Reagan years and has long been seen as an incubator of conservative policy and thought. Roberts, who was not well known outside policy circles when he took over, has pushed the think tank away from its hawkish roots by arguing against funding the war in Ukraine, a turnabout that prompted some of Heritage’s policy analysts to leave. Now he’s looking ahead, to the 2024 election and beyond. Roberts told me that he views Heritage’s role today as “institutionalizing Trumpism.” This includes leading Project 2025, a transition blueprint that outlines a plan to consolidate power in the executive branch, dismantle federal agencies and recruit and vet government employees to free the next Republican president from a system that Roberts views as stacked against conservative power. The lesson of Trump’s first year in office, Roberts told me, is that “the Trump administration, with the best of intentions, simply got a slow start. And Heritage and our allies in Project 2025 believe that must never be repeated.”You’ve taken the Heritage Foundation, once a bastion of the Reagan doctrine of peace through strength, in a different direction. Under you, Heritage has vocally opposed recent aid packages to Ukraine. It has criticized the Biden administration for what you’ve said is a lack of transparency when it comes to how the money is being spent and how you believe those packages are impacting the administration’s domestic priorities. Can you explain some of your thinking on that pivot?Yeah, sure. But perhaps it would be helpful to start with my perception of those examples you mentioned relative to the Reagan principle of peace through strength. We believe that the manner in which the Ukraine aid packages have been put together, the manner in which they’ve been debated or really not debated in Congress, the manner in which they’ve not been analyzed, the manner in which there’s no transparency, the fact that there’s no strategy actually is a violation of the principle of peace through strength. So while much ink has been spilled about Heritage no longer believing in peace through strength, that’s not true. But I don’t want to dismiss the part of your question about the shift in the conservative movement toward more skepticism, if not restraint, in foreign policy, and I think a lot of that is prudent. Because what the American people are saying, conservatives in particular, but not exclusively conservatives, is why are we prioritizing any other place internationally above the problems we have in the United States?I hear you that there are a lot of problems at home to be solved, and they’re costly problems. But we had Russia invade a sovereign country on the doorstep of a democratic Europe. Does it not seem to you squarely within the U.S. national interest to stop Russian aggression?We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Election Fraud Is Rare. Except, Maybe, in Bridgeport, Conn.

    Voters say that campaigns in Connecticut’s largest city routinely rely on absentee ballots — collected illegally — to win elections. Now, the city faces a mayoral primary redo.Two months ago, Joe Ganim received the most votes in the race for mayor of Bridgeport, Conn. This week, the city will vote again — to decide if he should even be the Democratic candidate.The unlikely and confusing situation arose after a judge ruled that there was enough evidence of misconduct in the Democratic primary in September to throw its result — a victory by Mayor Ganim — into doubt. The judge pointed to videos showing “partisans” repeatedly stuffing absentee ballots into drop boxes.The footage provided a particularly lurid illustration of ballot tampering, though experts say election fraud is rare in the United States and often accidental when it occurs.But in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, ballot manipulation has undermined elections for years.In interviews and in court testimony, residents of the city’s low-income housing complexes described people sweeping through their apartment buildings, often pressuring them to apply for absentee ballots they were not legally entitled to.Sometimes, residents say, campaigners fill out the applications or return the ballots for them — all of which is illegal.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Trump Has Made Claims About Caucus Fraud. What if He Underperforms?

    The last time Donald J. Trump participated in competitive Iowa caucuses, he lost narrowly, accused Senator Ted Cruz of Texas of stealing the contest, claimed fraud, demanded that Iowa Republicans nullify the results, and called for a rerun.While Iowa has a history of troubles with its caucus results, there’s been no evidence of fraud. The 2016 Republican contest was, in fact, the only one since 2008 that had gone off without a hitch.And yet if Monday night ends with Mr. Trump underperforming expectations, both his history and his rhetoric during this year’s campaign suggest he won’t hesitate to cry foul and refuse to accept the result.Mr. Trump has already accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida of “trying to rig” the caucuses. Laura Loomer, a far-right and anti-Muslim activist whom Mr. Trump last year considered hiring for a campaign post, suggested on social media that “the deep state” was engaging in “weather manipulation” to instigate Iowa’s Friday snowstorm and subzero temperatures to depress Trump turnout on Monday. And Donald Trump Jr. suggested in a Telegram video that “we can’t take anything for granted, or assume that everything is going to be on the up and up. We’ve seen this rodeo before.”Those claims are not likely to be met with much support from Iowa Republicans and the party volunteers who will operate the 1,657 caucus sites across the state.“If Trump says it’s fraud, he’s full of crap,” said A.J. Spiker, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa who is backing Mr. DeSantis.Still, Iowa Republicans aim to protect themselves from campaigns claiming foul play at the caucuses.At each site, caucusgoers mark their presidential preferences on paper slips. Those slips are then counted in full view of whoever wants to watch. Typically a representative from each campaign watches the counting, and recording is allowed.“It’s the most transparent straw vote you could possibly do,” Mr. Spiker said.The Trump campaign’s headquarters in Urbandale, Iowa, on Saturday.Jon Cherry for The New York TimesMr. Trump’s pre-emptive Iowa fraud claims last month followed a flub by Mr. DeSantis’s wife, Casey DeSantis. She called on supporters to “descend upon the state of Iowa to be a part of the caucus.”“You do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the caucus,” she said.That earned Ms. DeSantis a rebuke from the state Republican Party.Only Iowans can participate in the caucuses. Republican volunteers are supposed to check for photo identification at the caucus sites. Still, Mr. Trump’s campaign suggested then that the DeSantis campaign had professed a “plot to rig the caucus through fraud.”Another candidate who has trafficked in conspiracies and has been sowing doubt about Iowa’s caucuses is Vivek Ramaswamy, who failed to qualify for recent debates.“The mainstream media is trying to rig the Iowa G.O.P. caucus in favor of the corporate candidates who they can control,” Mr. Ramaswamy said in a campaign video this week. “Don’t fall for their trick. They don’t want you to hear from me about the truth.”Voting rights groups and disinformation experts say the pre-emptive cries about fraud and rigged elections have become something of a new normal.“This follows the general playbook, the election denier playbook of just pre-emptively laying the groundwork for claims of fraud in the event of a loss,” said Emma Steiner, the Information Accountability Project Manager at Common Cause, a left-leaning voting rights organization. “It’s sort of future-proofing.”Indeed, Mr. Trump has long trumpeted baseless claims of fraud or rigging before an election. In 2016, weeks before Election Day, Mr. Trump started questioning the veracity of mail ballots in Colorado, citing little evidence. After he won the 2016 election, Mr. Trump claimed that widespread fraud cost him the popular vote (it did not), and he launched a commission to investigate voter fraud in the country (it folded without any significant findings).The Trump team has called elections rigged even when he is not participating in them. When the 2020 Democratic caucuses melted down because of a faulty app and a disorganized state party, Mr. Trump’s campaign questioned whether the results were “being rigged against Bernie Sanders.” His sons went further.“Mark my words, they are rigging this thing,” Eric Trump wrote on Twitter the night of the 2020 caucuses. “What a mess.” More