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Iowa Democratic official blames Trump supporters for Iowa caucuses debacle

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Shifting the blame

Precinct Chair Carl Voss shows the phone app he used for the Iowa Caucus to news media at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters on Feb. 4, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

It took two full days, but Iowa Democrats found a way to connect their total failure to count Iowa caucus votes to President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday night that state Democratic caucus central committee member Ken Sagar, without evidence, blamed the communications breakdown on Trump supporters jamming up phone lines and preventing precinct officials from calling in results to the state party.

Plan A for compiling results was to use a smartphone app. However, a combination of factors — including the app malfunctioning and some people waiting until the day of the caucuses to download it and figure out how it worked — ruined that effort.

So, they went to plan B: Old-fashioned telephones. Precinct officials were to tally their results (with some precincts having to resort to take votes on paper), and call the results in. The hotline designated for that purpose was quickly jammed up with calls, leaving precinct captains on hold for hours.

And sometimes, getting hung up on because they weren't ready when they finally got through:

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This, according to Bloomberg, was the fault of Trump supporters, who found the hotline number online and called in large enough numbers to derail the results reporting. Bloomberg, it should be noted, is owned by Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, and has a policy of not investigating any Democratic candidates since it cannot investigate its owner.

According to two participants on the call, Ken Sagar, a state Democratic central committee member, was among those answering the hotline on caucus night and said people called in and expressed support for Trump. The phone number became public after people posted photos of caucus paperwork that included the hotline number, one of the people on the call, said.

The Trump campaign said Wednesday night it had no knowledge of its supporters calling the hotline.

As of Thursday morning, about 96 percent of precincts had been reported in the Iowa caucuses. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had a slight lead in raw votes, while former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a narrow lead in state delegates. The race was still too close to call.

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