See update below.
Original 7/11/19: The Washington Post reported on Thursday about Tim Alberta’s book American Carnage. They received a prerelease copy of the book that will be released next week. Alberta is Politico’s chief political correspondent.
One sentence in Thursday’s report has implications for the Iowa Caucus.
“He reports that Trump pressured the head of the Iowa GOP in 2016 to invalidate the results after he lost the caucus,” Josh Dawsey, writing for The Washington Post, wrote.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won the 2016 Iowa Caucus winning over 6000 more votes than Trump who finished second. Trump accused Cruz of fraud at the time.
“Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!” Trump tweeted the Wednesday following the Iowa Caucus.
“Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” he said in a follow-up tweet.
Trump’s response to the caucus results was due to an email that the Cruz campaign sent out about Ben Carson that highlighted a CNN story that indicated Carson was taking a break from the campaign trail. This lead to several Cruz precinct captains saying during their remarks to their caucus that Carson was dropping out and his supporters should vote for Cruz.
Because of Trump’s public statements it is not outside the realm of possibility that he did make a personal appeal to Republican Party of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann.
The Iowa GOP spokesman, Aaron Britt, told Caffeinated Thoughts that they would release an official public statement once Alberta’s book is released.
“That’s news to me I never seen or heard anything of the sort,” Iowa GOP Co-Chair Cody Hoefert said responding to Caffeinated Thoughts’ inquiry.
There is nothing in the Iowa GOP Constitution or Bylaws at the time that would indicate that Kaufmann or the State Central Committee had authority to set aside the Caucus presidential preference poll results.
Not that it would matter anyway as the Iowa Caucus vote is nonbinding on the delegate selection process. Meaning even if Kaufmann did set aside the results, Cruz would still have had a lock on 11 of the 12 district delegates selected. The Trump campaign lacked an apparatus to capture delegates, and their candidate did not understand the rules and the process. They were woefully unprepared had a convention battle taken place.
That said, we don’t know how much detail Alberta provides nor who he interviewed. The Washington Post did cite several on-the-record interviews. We will have to wait until next week when the book is released to learn more.
Update 7/15/19: The New York Times quotes from the section in the book related to the Iowa Caucus results.
Mr. Cruz won the caucuses by a small margin, following questionable tactics that the Cruz campaign used against a third candidate, Ben Carson. When Mr. Cruz won, Mr. Trump, aboard his private plane, called the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, Jeff Kaufmann, and said, “I think you need to publicly disavow the result.” When Mr. Kaufmann said he could not do that, Mr. Trump was quiet for a moment, and then repeated: “You should disavow the result. Think about it, will you?”
The Iowa GOP has yet to comment publicly. We still don’t know who Alberta’s source for this is.
Frankly, this is a non-story since Trump publicly called for action. This just reports on an alleged phone conversation that took place between Trump and Kaufmann. Kudos to Kaufmann for saying no if this did happen.
Also, as I mentioned before, the Iowa Caucus is a non-binding vote so what is there to disavow? Kaufmann learned the lesson that former Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn learned the hard way in 2012 after prematurely releasing the Iowa Caucus before all of the votes were certified. Don’t give in to pressure from campaigns.