Brooks was a central part of the Trump effort. He spoke at the rally before the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was identified by a rally organizer as having participated in its planning. He was also the first member of Congress to announce plans to challenge the counting of electoral votes that day, a measure of his fealty to Trump.
But you should not assume that Brooks is simply a Trump loyalist engaged in various machinations aimed at subverting an election he knows Trump lost. Instead, as revealed in an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner, Brooks appears to actually believe obviously false claims about the election.
Evidence that the election was stolen, Brooks told the Examiner’s Mike Brest, is “overwhelming and compelling.” For example, he said, “somewhere in the neighborhood of 900,000 to 1.7 million noncitizens voted in the 2020 presidential election overwhelmingly for Joe Biden.”
Just on the surface, this is a weird argument to make about the election results. Biden won by 7 million votes; lopping off 2 million would simply mean he beat Trump by a little bit less than a lot. In 2016, Trump claimed that his loss in California alone was a function of millions of illegal votes from noncitizens. If all of those purported illegal votes were again supposed to have been cast in California it wouldn’t have affected the outcome of even the electoral vote, since Biden would still have won that state, too.
But, of course, there’s no reason to treat this claim as legitimate.
Brooks pointed Brest to a speech he gave on Jan. 6 itself, during which he walked through the pieces of “evidence” that he suggested bolstered his point. Here are the pertinent ones:
“Exhibit D. In 2008, Electoral Studies surveyed 339 noncitizens. 8% admitted voting in American elections. As an aside, I have seen higher percentages in other studies."Exhibit E. The 2010 Census counted 11 million illegal aliens in America."Exhibit F. A 2018 Yale study estimated as many as 22 million illegal aliens in America!"Exhibit G. The math means between 880,000 and 1.72 million illegal aliens illegally voted in the 2020 elections.“Exhibit H. In 2014, Old Dominion University and George Mason University professors surveyed noncitizens and illegal aliens and found they vote Democrat roughly 80% of the time.”
Something that’s fun about this is that nearly every piece of it is incorrect or misleading in some way.
Exhibit D. Brooks here is pointing to research conducted by Old Dominion professors Jesse Richman and David Earnest and GMU’s Gulshan Chattha. In 2014, Richman and Earnest presented their discovery that of 339 noncitizens included in a Cooperative Congressional Election Study survey in 2008, 6.4 percent said they had voted.
This research understandably kicked up an enormous blowback. The original Monkey Cage article on the Washington Post website spawned four individual responses, including one from Richman and Earnest. In 2017, when Trump was elevating the research for his original claims about fraud in the preceding year’s election, Richman publicly rebutted the then-president.
The original article also now includes a note pointing to 2014 research making a compelling argument against the validity of those findings. That analysis determined that the Richman et al. research was flawed largely by treating those purported noncitizens as actual noncitizens and not people who had accidentally self-identified that way. The rationale for that assumption is detailed, but the summary of their position is succinct: “The results, we show, are completely accounted for by very low frequency measurement error; further, the likely percent of noncitizen voters in recent U.S. elections is 0.”
All of this was adjudicated more than six years ago. But here’s Brooks trotting it out to bolster his claims about fraud.
Exhibit F. Researchers from Yale did indeed generate a median estimate of 22.1 million immigrants in a 2018 paper. In short, the team conducting the research constructed a method of estimating the population that didn’t rely on Census Bureau population measures, operating under the assumption that immigrants in the country illegally would be more likely to avoid official counts. Most experts still use the 11 million figure.
Exhibit G. Technically, the range would be between 880,000 (8 percent of 11 million) and 1.8 million (8 percent of 22.1 million). But, again, that’s based on the dubious 8 percent figure.
Exhibit H. This is the same paper as in Exhibit D, just presented differently. It found that Barack Obama got 80 percent of the “noncitizen” vote in 2008, but since those may not have been noncitizens, this doesn’t tell us much.
Again, nothing I’ve written above is new. It’s all been out there since at least 2018. Brooks has either failed to update his understanding of voting patterns or is simply ignoring the serious questions surrounding his claims.
Among them, of course, is the idea that hundreds of thousands of people could vote illegally every year without anyone uncovering more than a handful of examples. The idea is that, over and over, a big chunk of this same group of people votes and, over and over, no one notices — even among the 35 percent of noncitizens who live in red states.
This wasn’t the only point Brooks made to Brest. He also argued that there were “millions, if not tens of millions, of ballots that were cast in violation of Article 1, Section 4,″ of the Constitution.
This is an argument developed after Trump began trying to undercut the election results to give Republicans an escape hatch. In essence, it is a claim that states changed rules to expand voting during the pandemic without going through legislatures, and that made those votes invalid. This argument allows Republicans who aren’t willing to make dubious or false claims about fraud to nonetheless harrumph about how the results were suspect. (See Sen. Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican, for example.)
It’s not a claim about illegal votes, just about how some votes shouldn’t count. In Pennsylvania, Trump fans made this case to a court, earning a judge’s expressed concern about how the rules were changed. But the judge also made a very good point: That doesn’t mean these votes shouldn’t be counted. This is not an argument about fraud — it’s an argument about a technicality, like the Detroit Lions losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers by 45 points but then trying to have the game annulled because a fan ran on the field.
In other words, Brooks has nothing. No proof of fraud, no argument that fraud affected the results, no clear research supporting his point and no argument against counting votes cast according to the rules. What he has is dudgeon and the blessing of a former president.
Incidentally, Brooks is running for election to the Senate next year. Trump has already endorsed him.
A previous version of this article incorrectly said Gulshan Chattha was affiliated with George Washington University instead of George Mason University. The article has been corrected.