Trump DHS official Ken Cuccinelli told the Jan. 6 committee he doesn't remember Trump repeatedly calling the 2020 election 'rigged'

Cuccinelli in crowded arena talking to reporters while in a blue suit
Ken Cuccinelli speaking on the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • Trump official Ken Cuccinelli claims to not remember Donald Trump calling the 2020 election "rigged."

  • Cuccinelli, who Trump appointed to the Department of Homeland Security, met with the January 6 committee in 2021.

  • "I am not prepared to validate that word," Cuccinelli told investigators, according to testimony released Friday.

In a 24-hour span after losing the 2020 election, one-term President Donald Trump used the term "rigged" no fewer than three times on Twitter: "RIGGED ELECTION," he posted. "Rigged and Corrupt Election!" he continued. And "Rigged Election Hoax!" he added for good measure.

But Ken Cuccinelli, who Trump appointed to a position at the Department of Homeland Security — an appointment later determined to be illegal — doesn't remember all that, or so he claimed in a 2021 interview with investigators for the House committee examining the January 6 insurrection.

While at DHS, Cuccinelli, was one of the faces of the Trump administration's election-security efforts. And in that role he told investigators he saw no evidence that China or any other foreign actor was able to change any votes cast in the 2020 election, a conspiracy theory that was pushed by another Trump official, Jeffrey Clark, and the former president himself.

But in his December 2021 testimony, released Friday, he asserted that he was unfamiliar with efforts by Trump and others to undermine faith in the election.

"Is it fair to say," an investigator asked, "that seeds of distrust were sown with respect to the 2020 election — after the November 2020 election?"

"I am not prepared to say that," Cuccinelli responded, though adding that "outcomes on a state-by-state and overall basis were being addressed aggressively from several different perspectives."

Cuccinelli, who previously served as the attorney general of Virginia and as a top Trump immigration official, also purported to be unfamiliar with anyone calling the election stolen.

Asked an investigator: "Are you aware of any elected officials saying that the election was rigged in the immediate aftermath of [the] November 2020 election?"

"I don't remember the quote," Cuccinelli said.

"Do you remember the president making comments along those lines?" the investigator continued.

Again, Cuccinelli could not recall. "I remember the president expressing in strong terms concerns along those lines, but you used a specific word, and I am not prepared to validate that word."

In fact, Trump not only claimed the election was "rigged" after he lost but before any ballots were even cast. In May 2020, for example, he asserted that the presidential contest would be "the greatest Rigged Election in history."

So often did Trump claim a "Rigged Election!" that, according to an email from Trump aide Dan Scavino — provided to the January 6 panel by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the former president wanted to trademark the term less than a week after losing to Joe Biden.

The January 6 investigator who interviewed Cuccinelli tried once more to jog his memory.

"You don't recall the president using the word 'rigged'?" they asked.

"No," Cuccinelli said. "I don't."

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