TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A statement last week by former President Donald Trump is raising new questions about the 2018 Florida elections, prompting a call for the Department of Justice to investigate his actions.
Trump released a statement Thursday concerning how "votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County" while Gov. Ron DeSantis was facing off against Democratic challenger Andrew Gillum.
The former president also claimed that he "sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen…"
Former President Donald Trump goes off on @GovRonDeSantis in latest statement: “Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017—he was politically dead, losing in a landslide to a very good Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam…” pic.twitter.com/f8RgnDdlYj— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) November 10, 2022
There were no reports of ballot thefts in Broward County or that the FBI was sent to Florida during the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election.
The former president's allegations caught the eye of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, who sent a letter Monday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking that the DOJ investigate Trump's claims.
"To my knowledge, there was no involvement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Office of the US Attorney in the 2018 Florida election," Fried said in a Monday statement. "If the President was tampering with state ballots, we need to know. If he is fabricating these allegations in the name of politics, we also need to know. Either way, these actions hurt our democracy and Floridians deserve to know their elections are operating with integrity."
Below is the full letter that Fried sent to the DOJ:
November 14, 2022
Dear Attorney General Garland:
Last week, former President Donald Trump made allegations that, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorneys, he assisted in ending "ballot theft" in the 2018 election for Florida's governor and prevented that "Election from being stolen." It is imperative you address these allegations immediately.
There was no widespread election fraud in the 2018 Election in Florida. There was no broad allegation that the election was being stolen from Ron DeSantis in favor of Andrew Gillum. I know because I was on the ballot in 2018. Although there was a recount for both the race for governor, as well as my own, there was no fraud, and no foul play. To my knowledge, there was no involvement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Office of the United States Attorney.
As you know, voter fraud and tampering with ballots is a serious charge. It is also a serious charge to make these allegations in the name of politics when no such charge occurred. This is why I strongly urge you to address this matter publicly as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture
In his 475-word statement, Trump also called DeSantis an "average" Republican and alleged he was disloyal for not unquestionably dismissing a White House run.
All of this comes as Trump is scheduled to hold a "special announcement" at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night, when many believe he will announce his plans to run for president again.