Trump criticized Mark Zuckerberg, saying the $400 million he donated to help local election offices makes him a 'criminal'

·3 min read
Trump
Former President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Former President Donald Trump criticized Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, calling him a "criminal."

  • Trump baselessly suggested that Zuckerberg's $400 million donation to election causes was suspect.

  • There is no evidence that Zuckerberg's donation was used improperly.

Former President Donald Trump criticized Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, in a statement. Trump said the $400 million donation that Zuckerberg made to local election offices last year makes him a "criminal."

"Mark Zuckerberg, in my opinion, a criminal, is allowed to spend over $400 million and therefore able to change the course of a Presidential Election, and nothing happens to Facebook," Trump said in an emailed statement to supporters.

Trump appeared to be referring to the $400 million that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated to local election offices last year.

The money was to help the offices adapt to changes in voting patterns that resulted from the pandemic.

It was spent on items such as personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, and equipment to process mail ballots, the Associated Press reported.

There is no evidence that Zuckerberg's donations were criminal or even partisan, but Trump's comments echoed wider Republican fury at the move.

A spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg family office told Insider: "When our nation's election infrastructure faced unprecedented challenges last year due to the pandemic and the federal government failed to provide adequate funds, Mark and Priscilla provided funding to two non-partisan organizations that helped cities and states ensure that residents could vote regardless of their party or preference."

The spokesperson added: "Nearly 2,500 election jurisdictions from 49 states applied for and received funds, including urban, suburban, rural, and exurban counties [...] and more Republican than Democratic jurisdictions applied for and received the funds."

In October 2020, one Republican legal group attempted to stop the money from being used in nine swing states, calling it "an insidious, coordinated, and stealth campaign to manipulate this year's elections."

Zuckerberg denied that the funds would be used in a partisan manner.

He said in a statement at the time: "Since our initial donation, there have been multiple lawsuits filed in an attempt to block these funds from being used, based on claims that the organizations receiving donations have a partisan agenda.

"That's false. These funds will serve communities throughout the country - urban, rural and suburban - and are being allocated by non-partisan organizations."

Trump, who has continued to push baseless claims of widespread election fraud since leaving office in January, also made similar claims about Zuckerberg in a letter to The Washington Post published on Wednesday.

He cited part of Zuckerberg's donation that had been allocated to voting systems in Pennsylvania as evidence of the Facebook founder attempting to "interfere" in the state's election results.

Pennsylvania voted for Joe Biden, and as in other parts of the US, attempts by Trump allies to challenge the results did not succeed.

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