A heated row erupted on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday when former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin appeared on the show to defend Donald Trump and insisted the 2020 election had been rife with “shenanigans”.
Ms Palin, a former governor of Alaska who was John McCain’s running mate in 2008 and whose appeal foreshadowed the populist Tea Party movement and Mr Trump’s own ascent, was speaking as the Senate prepared to open its second impeachment trial into the 45th president after the House of Representatives accused him of inciting the failed insurrection at the US Capitol.
President Trump addressed a rally on 6 January immediately before the violence broke out, urging a crowd of his supporters to “fight like hell” against the certification of the election results in Congress after feeding them a diet of baseless conspiracy theories claiming that Joe Biden had only defeated him because the race was “rigged”.
Despite failing to find a shred of evidence to prove his case and losing 59 out of 60 court cases challenging the outcome in swing states, Mr Trump’s rhetoric prompted the mob, which included members of the far-right Proud Boys militia and QAnon believers, to force its way through police barriers and storm the legislative complex for the the first time since 1814.
Five people died as the rioters engaged in looting and vandalism while lawmakers cowered behind locked doors, frightened for their lives.
But Ms Palin told Mr Morgan and co-host Susannah Reid that Mr Trump had merely told the would-be revolutionaries involved to protest “peacefully and patriotically and legally” and that the “idiots” who took part in the riot were symptomatic of a “societal problem where people just cannot take responsibility for their stupid and criminal acts”.
But their Zoom exchange truly became ugly when Ms Palin turned her attention towards President Trump’s unfounded “mass voter fraud” conspiracy theorising.
“Yeah but the election wasn’t stolen though was it, Sarah Palin? Let’s be honest,” Mr Morgan challenged her.
As it became clear the professionally-folksy politician had no intention of committing herself to this line of reasoning, the hosts pushed her to say definitively whether or not she accepted Mr Biden’s victory at the polls.
Ms Palin refused to be drawn on the matter, attempting to talk over them about her own struggles to ensure clean elections took place and by alleging that Barack Obama had profited from corruption before Mr Morgan lost patience.
“You can’t filibuster us,” he snapped, before returning to the question of Mr Biden’s legitimacy, finally forcing her to accept that he must have won the race for the White House because he had subsequently been sworn in on 20 January.
She insisted on one caveat, however.
“No one will convince me, nor anyone else with common sense or a sense of justice ... that there were not shenanigans going on,” Ms Palin declared.
The breakfast host, arms folded, then called on her to cite evidence to support her allegations, positing that no “facts” had been established to prove her contention.
“How many polling areas had to produce their voter rolls and they showed that there were more votes than there were voters in certain districts?” she asked.
“Those are not facts. There was no fraud,” Mr Morgan countered. “Where’s the fraud Sarah? Where has a single court in America upheld fraud?”
“What about all the dead people who voted?” she hit back, tilting her head in triumph as though scoring the clinching point.
“Sarah, we like having you on the programme, we normally have a good, two-way, robust debate but today you’ve just come on and you’re just talking nonsense,” an exasperated Mr Morgan said.
“I don’t even think you believe this.”
She didn’t answer his last charge, preferring instead to demand the former tabloid newspaper editor go away and investigate whether dead Democrats had risen from the grave to cast illegitimate ballots for Mr Biden.
“I say this with the utmost respect to you but you’re sounding totally bonkers,” he responded. “Part of the problem for the Republican Party is that people like you, high profile members of the party, are still perpetuating this utter load of nonsense … Trump got hammered in this election!”
The interview was terminated soon after.
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