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'Nothing there': More Republicans are calling out Trump's election lies

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Attorney General William Barr on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 4, 2020.
Attorney General William Barr on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 4, 2020.Leah Millis / AP

WASHINGTON — The more we learn about Donald Trump’s baseless, false and discredited claims about the 2020 election, the more baseless, false and discredited those claims have become.

Just consider the revelations over the past week — from Republicans:

  • In Michigan, a GOP-led investigation by its state Senate concluded that it “found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.” (Remember, Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes.)
  • Regarding Arizona, a report co-authored by former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson criticized the so-called “audit” of the election results in that state, saying it “does not meet the standards of a proper election recount or audit,” and that it’s being conducted by an “inexperienced, unqualified contractor.”
  • And over the weekend, ABC’s Jon Karl writing for the Atlantic had former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr debunking Trump’s claims about the 2020 election results. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there,” Barr said. “It was all bullsh!#.”

Predictably, Trump lashed out at those GOP findings.

“Michigan State Senators Mike Shirkey and Ed McBroom are doing everything possible to stop Voter Audits in order to hide the truth about November 3rd,” the former president said in a statement, which even included those state senators’ phone numbers.

And on Barr, Trump added: “RINO former Attorney General Bill Barr failed to investigate election fraud, and really let down the American people.”

But as surprising as it is that one-third of Americans believe President Biden’s 2020 win was due to voter fraud, it’s maybe even more surprising just how flimsy — and discredited — those fraud allegations are.

Even Bill Barr doesn’t buy them.

Infrastructure deal is back on track — for now

On Friday, we said that conservatives revolting was one way President Biden’s infrastructure/jobs/tax/safety net hopes could get derailed.

And that’s exactly what happened when they criticized Biden’s direct demand linking the bipartisan infrastructure deal with the reconciliation package — since the reconciliation vehicle contains tax and climate provisions they don’t want.

But after Biden released a lengthy statement on Saturday walking back that direct linkage — “My comments ... created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent" — key GOP senators got back on board their support for a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

  • Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on “Meet the Press”: “So I hope it's enough. We'll see going forward. But I'll continue to work for the bill.”
  • Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on ABC: "I was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told all along the way."
  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on CNN: “I do take the president at his word.”

What also stood out was the cover that progressive Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeared to give Biden after one us asked her if she wanted the president to issue a veto threat on the bipartisan deal if there was no reconciliation package.

“I think it's very important for the president to know that House progressives and, I believe, you know, the Democratic Caucus is here to ensure that he doesn't fail. And we're here to make sure that he is successful in making sure that we do have a larger infrastructure plan,” she said.

To be sure, there will many more twists and turns later this summer/fall over the infrastructure deal, but Crisis #1 was averted.

For now.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

35: The number of Texas and national progressive groups who have joined a new coalition to fight a pending restrictive voting law in the Lone Star state, per exclusive reporting from NBC’s Jane Timm.

116: The temperature recorded in a part of Canada this weekend, the highest ever recorded in the country.

112: The record-breaking temperature in Portland on Sunday.

91: The age of the late Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who passed away over the weekend.

33,762,375: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 27,760 more than Friday morning.)

607,316: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 648 more than Friday morning.)

323,327,328: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

42.4 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per NBC News.

56.8 percent: The share of all American adults over 18 who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

Virginia Governor: Youngkin’s big spending advantage

In the three weeks since Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin has spent more than $2.2 million on ads — almost all it on TV and more than half of it over the pricey D.C. area’s airwaves, per ad-spending data from Ad Impact.

By comparison, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe has spent just $55,000 — all of it on digital and none on TV.

As we get closer to the fall, we know McAuliffe and the Dems will up their spending.

But money is going to be one advantage the wealthy Youngkin has throughout the course of this campaign.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Prosecutors in New York have given Trump’s lawyers until today to make their case as to why criminal charges should not be filed against the Trump Organization.

Is there still a path to success for Biden’s agenda on the Hill?

Rep. Paul Gosar’s siblings are speaking out again, saying he deserves to be expelled from Congress.

Former President Donald Trump is focused on revenge in Georgia.

Ron DeSantis’s profile is growing — but he’ll have to keep Trump from taking aim at him.

Could the Iran nuclear deal be revived?

The Biden administration is zeroing in on housing policy as a key way to address inequality.