CMU says it's OK for staff to engage in political activity after fellow Richard Grenell alleges widespread voter fraud without evidence | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

CMU says it's OK for staff to engage in political activity after fellow Richard Grenell alleges widespread voter fraud without evidence

As votes are still being counted a week after the 2020 presidential election, the campaign of incumbent President Donald Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that many mail-in and absentee ballots are fraudulent. Parroting these dubious claims is Richard Grenell, formerly a Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Acting Director of National Intelligence, who is currently a senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Politics and Strategy.

Grenell has become an active member of Trump's campaign, particularly in regards to claiming voting irregularities in states where Trump trails his opponent, former Vice President and current President-elect Joe Biden. So far, Grenell has supported lawsuits filed by the president's campaign and Republicans to stop ballot counts, investigate voter fraud, or demand more access to oversee ballot counting.

Many of these lawsuits have already been thrown out or dropped due to a lack of evidence. Legal experts have said Trump's lawsuit targeting Allegheny County is not legally sound.


Grenell was tapped by CMU in June, and his appointment angered CMU students, alum, and faculty. An open letter signed by over 300 members of the CMU community expressed concerns over how hiring Grenell would alienate certain groups at the school, citing sexist comments he made on social media, and his affiliation with a known racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic political party in Germany.

CMU responded with a statement saying that Grenell would not actually be teaching classes, but would “engage with the CMU community in a variety of forums designed to increase our understanding of the new Europe, international relations more broadly, and the US-led diplomatic effort to decriminalize homosexuality throughout the world.”

Still, Grenell's latest actions have generated more controversy beyond CMU, as publications have criticized his inability to supply any evidence to back up his voter fraud claims. The Advocate and other outlets called Grenell out for dodging questions during a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on Nov. 5. Grenell addressed the media during an announcement that the Trump campaign would file a lawsuit in federal court, accusing Clark County of counting "illegal votes" in the general election, particularly from people who were deceased or lived out of state.

During his statement, Grenell alleged that Clark County officials were not giving the campaign access to the ballots, and refused to answer any questions until the end of the day.
When reached, CMU spokesperson Jason Maderer said the university was aware of Grenell's high profile during the election and its aftermath but said Grennell is free to engage in political activity.


"Carnegie Mellon is aware of Richard Grenell’s presence on social media and of his television appearance last week," says Maderer. "Like all members of our faculty and staff, Mr. Grenell is free to engage in political activity on his own time. Carnegie Mellon does not engage in partisan political activities and has no further comment."

One video shows MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff confronting Grenell after the Las Vegas press conference. Soboroff asks Grenell about claims he and the Trump campaign made that thousands of illegitimate votes were cast in the state and that there were no election observers during the count, despite evidence to the contrary.

Grenell accused the reporter of not questioning Clark County officials before walking off.

“You haven't presented any evidence of fraud,” Soboroff yells as Grenell gets into a van without comment.
Trump is currently losing Nevada to Biden by around 36,000 votes, and the race has been called for Biden, according to the AP. Even so, Nevada has become the focus of Trump campaign members like Grenell, who has been using his social media platforms to try and discount Biden's lead in the state.

This is after every news outlet, including conservative ones like Fox News, already called the election for Biden this past weekend.

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