President Who Sued to Stop Vote Counting Orders Attorney General to Fabricate Evidence of Voter Fraud

George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales stand side by side against a blue sky with their hands over their hearts.
The Republican president and his ethically flexible attorney general in Washington. Joshua Roberts/Pool/Getty Images

A Republican president who gained his position via litigation related to vote counting in a swing state ordered his attorney general to fabricate evidence of Democratic voter fraud, sources from 2007 said.

The Republican president originally took office after a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court—including one member whose wife is a Republican activist and who was appointed by the president’s father—ruled that the swing state in question should stop counting votes. (At one point before the ruling, a mob of the president’s supporters shut down vote counting themselves by storming a public building.) If the votes cast in this state had been properly counted, the Republican might have lost his race, so he sued to stop that from happening.

Later, he would win another presidential election in part by encouraging a factually meritless but politically effective far-right campaign to challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic figure’s well-established credentials.

The Republican president, in collaboration with his aggressive attorney general and other members of his party, attempted to gain further political advantage by sensationalizing alleged incidents of Democratic voter fraud that did not stand up to legal scrutiny. As the Washington Post reported in 2007, the administration pressed federal prosecutors to pursue cases of alleged Democratic Party–related fraud in the weeks before the 2006 midterm elections in politically crucial areas of the country. A number of prosecutors declined to cooperate; five of them were then removed from office amid what the Post described as “Republican complaints” about their resistance.

During a subsequent congressional hearing, the attorney general claimed more than 60 times that he couldn’t recall pertinent information about his involvement in the firings, even though they had taken place less than a year earlier.

Eventually the attorney general resigned under pressure, and the president left office with a historically low approval rating, which suggested that Republicans who promoted unsupportable, partisan allegations of voter fraud would be punished by public opinion, discouraging future politicians from following in their path or escalating their tactics in a way that might threaten the continuity of American democracy. And thank God for that!