Category Archives: election subversion risk

“Rudy Giuliani and 10 others plead not guilty to charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Arizona”

CNN:

Rudy Giuliani and 10 others pleaded not guilty in an Arizona court Tuesday to charges of allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The former New York mayor was also ordered to post a $10,000 bond after he ducked efforts by the state to serve him with a summons over the past week.

Giuliani was served Friday in Palm Beach, Florida, at his 80th birthday bash held by a GOP operative. Arizona prosecutors spent weeks trying to track down Giuliani and eventually found him based on some of his podcasts.

A grand jury in Arizona handed up indictments last month charging over a dozen Donald Trump allies for their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, including the fake electors and several individuals connected to his campaign.

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“Election deniers moving closer to GOP mainstream, report shows, as Trump allies fill Congress”

AP:

new report released Tuesday by States United Action, a group that targets election deniers, said nearly one-third of the lawmakers in Congress supported in some way Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 results or otherwise cast doubt on the reliability of elections. Several more are hoping to join them, running for election this year to the House and Senate.

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“Sen. Marco Rubio won’t commit to accepting 2024 election results”

NBC News:

Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, widely seen as a potential vice presidential pick for former President Donald Trump, on Sunday refused to say whether he would accept the results of the 2024 presidential election, instead blaming Democrats for sowing doubts about the election.

The senator, appearing on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” said, “I think you’re asking the wrong person. The Democrats are the ones that have opposed every Republican victory since 2000. Every single one.”

He added, “And you have Democrats now saying they won’t certify 2024 because Trump is an insurrectionist and ineligible to hold office. So you need to ask them.”

Rubio’s refusal to say if he would accept the results of the 2024 election is notable because he did vote to certify the presidential election for then-President-elect Joe Biden. At the time, he said, “Democracy is held together by people’s confidence in the election and their willingness to abide by its results.”

Moderator Kristen Welker pushed back on Rubio, reminding him that no Democratic presidential candidate — including Hillary Clinton in 2016, when she lost to Trump — refused to concede the election.

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“Trump at NRA convention floats 3-term presidency”

Politico:

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday floated the idea of a third term if he wins in November.

“You know, FDR 16 years — almost 16 years — he was four terms. I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term? Or two-term?” Trump quipped at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, speaking before a crowd of gun rights supporters.

Some in the crowd shouted in response: “Three.”

It’s not the first time Trump has mentioned extending his stay in the White House, an idea he suggested while on the campaign trail in 2020. His latest remarks provide more fodder for the Biden campaign, which seized on the comments as it tries to paint Trump as a threat to democracy and institutional norms.

But Trump has more recently shut down the proposition of seeking a third term, which is barred by the Constitution. And he told Time magazine in an April interview that he wouldn’t be in favor of challenging the 22nd Amendment, enacted after FDR’s presidency:

“I wouldn’t be in favor of it at all. I intend to serve four years and do a great job. And I want to bring our country back. I want to put it back on the right track. Our country is going down. We’re a failing nation right now. We’re a nation in turmoil,” he said.

Playbook:

The riff does exactly what Trump wants: riles up his base with excitement and freaks out people worried about his autocratic leanings.

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“Evaluating a New Generation of Expansive Claims about Vote Manipulation”

Justin Grimmer, Michael Herron and Michael Tyler in ELJ. Abstract:

In the wake of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, a cottage industry of conspiracy theorists has advanced ever more expansive claims of vote manipulation, going so far as to allege that all American elections are subject to manipulation—even in largely Republican states. In the extreme, these conspiracy theorists argue that candidates in U.S. elections are selected rather than elected. We evaluate two recent sets of claims about vote manipulation that allege algorithms are used to shift votes towards preferred candidates. Even though these claims are distinct, they fail for similar reasons. For example, both sets of claims assert that “unnaturally” accurate predictions of election results are evidence of vote manipulation, an allegation that is a result of predicting a variable with itself. Furthermore, both claims make easily refuted errors in logic and data analysis and in addition misrepresent historical election patterns. While recent claims about vote manipulation are prima facie outlandish, their effects on policy and the public are real. Refuting false claims about vote manipulation is essential to ensuring the continued functioning of U.S. elections and American democracy more generally

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“Sen. Tim Scott dodges on whether he would accept 2024 election results”

NBC News:

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott on Sunday did not directly answer multiple questions about whether he’d accept the results of the 2024 presidential election, regardless of who wins.

“At the end of the day, the 47th president of the United States will be President Donald Trump,” Scott, a Republican, said the first time he was directly asked whether he would commit to accepting the election results on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Asked again by moderator Kristen Welker to answer, “Yes or no?” to the original question, Scott simply said, “That is my statement.”

Pressed a third time to answer the question, Scott said, “I look forward to President Trump being the 47th president — the American people will make the decision.”

Earlier this month, Trump himself told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would only accept the results of the presidential election in Wisconsin “if everything’s honest.”

“If everything’s honest, I’d gladly accept the results,” he said, adding, “If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.”

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“A group of Republicans has united to defend the legitimacy of US elections and those who run them”

AP:

Sterling, the chief operating officer for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, is part of an effort begun after the last presidential election that seeks to bring together Republican officials who are willing to defend the country’s election systems and the people who run them. They want officials to reinforce the message that elections are secure and accurate, an approach they say is especially important as the country heads toward another divisive presidential contest.

The group has held meetings in several states, with more planned before the Nov. 5 election.

With six months to go before the likely rematch between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump, concerns are running high among election officials that public distrust of voting and ballot counting persists, particularly among Republicans. Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, continues to sow doubts about the last presidential election and is warning his followers — without citing any evidence — that Democrats will try to cheat in the upcoming one.

This past week, during a campaign rally in Michigan, Trump repeated his false claim that Democrats rigged the 2020 election. “But we’re not going to allow them to rig the presidential election,” he said.

Just 22% of Republicans expressed high confidence that votes will be counted accurately in November, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll last year.

“It’s an obligation on Republicans’ part to stand up for the defense of our system because our party — there’s some blame for where we stand right now,” said Kentucky’s secretary of state, Michael Adams, who is part of the group and won reelection last year. “But it’s also strategically wise for Republicans to say, ‘Hey Republicans, you can trust this. Don’t stay at home.’”

The effort, which began about 18 months ago, is coordinated by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the center-right think tank R Street Institute. The goal has been to start conversations about trust in elections, primarily among conservative officials, and to develop a set of principles to accomplish that.

“This has never been and will never be about Trump specifically,” said Matt Germer, director of governance for the R Street Institute and a lead organizer of the effort. “It’s about democratic principles at a higher level –- what does it mean to be a conservative who believes in democracy, the rule of law?”…

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“Trump, Repeating 2020 Election Lies, Will Not Commit to Accepting 2024 Results”

NYT:

Former President Donald J. Trump told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that he would not commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election, as he again repeated his lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“If everything’s honest, I’ll gladly accept the results. I don’t change on that,” Mr. Trump said, according to The Journal Sentinel. “If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.”

In an interview with Time magazine published on Tuesday, he also dismissed questions about political violence in November by suggesting that his victory was inevitable.

When pressed about what might happen should he lose, he said, “if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

Mr. Trump’s insistent and fraudulent claims that the 2020 election was unfair were at the heart of his efforts to overturn his loss to President Biden, and to the violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by a mob of supporters who believed his claims. Mr. Trump now faces dozens of felony charges in connection with those events.

Mr. Trump’s vow to “fight for the right of the country” also echoes his speech on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, where he told his supporters that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” before urging his supporters to march to the Capitol.

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“Trump Again Vows Mass Deportations and Won’t Rule Out Political Violence”

NYT:

Former President Donald J. Trump told Time magazine in an interview published Tuesday morning that if elected in November, he would deploy the U.S. military to detain and deport migrants and permit states to decide whether to prosecute those who violate abortion bans, while hedging on the possibility of political violence after the 2024 election….

Mr. Trump also brushed aside questions about political violence in November by suggesting that his victory was inevitable. But when pressed about what might happen should he again lose the election, he did not dismiss the possibility outright and did not proactively say anything to deter supporters from again resorting to it.

“I think we’re going to win,” he said. “And if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

A Biden campaign spokesman, James Singer, argued that Mr. Trump’s stated plans were unconstitutional and anti-democratic. “Trump is willing to throw away the very idea of America to put himself in power,” Mr. Singer said in a statement.

Mr. Trump and his allies have already laid the groundwork to advance their ideological agenda, and many of their preparations have been reported by The New York Times and other outlets.

Still the Time interview, which includes transcripts, offered a rare chance to hear Mr. Trump describe his policy views in his own words….

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Trump in TIME Interview: “I Think a Lot of People Like” Talk of Dictatorship

TIME Magazine interview:

Toward the end of our conversation at Mar-a-Lago, I ask Trump to explain another troubling comment he made: that he wants to be dictator for a day. It came during a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity, who gave Trump an opportunity to allay concerns that he would abuse power in office or seek retribution against political opponents. Trump said he would not be a dictator—“except for day one,” he added. “I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.”

Trump says that the remark “was said in fun, in jest, sarcastically.” He compares it to an infamous moment from the 2016 campaign, when he encouraged the Russians to hack and leak Hillary Clinton’s emails. In Trump’s mind, the media sensationalized those remarks too. But the Russians weren’t joking: among many other efforts to influence the core exercise of American democracy that year, they hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers and disseminated its emails through WikiLeaks.

Whether or not he was kidding about bringing a tyrannical end to our 248-year experiment in democracy, I ask him, Don’t you see why many Americans see such talk of dictatorship as contrary to our most cherished principles? Trump says no. Quite the opposite, he insists. “I think a lot of people like it.”

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“Why an Immunity Ruling in Trump’s Favor Might Not Alter the Shape of His Trial”

Charlie Savage in the NYT:

If the Supreme Court rules that Donald J. Trump is immune from being charged with crimes over official actions he took as president, it would be a momentous decision for the future of executive power and American-style democracy.

But it is far from certain that such a ruling would derail the election subversion case against him. In fact, there is a scenario in which the court could render such a ruling without altering the charges or the array of evidence that the special counsel, Jack Smith, wants to present to a jury.

Mr. Trump faces four criminal counts over his efforts to overturn his loss of the 2020 election, but none are exclusively centered on conduct Mr. Trump undertook in his capacity as president. Rather, the indictment tells a story that mixes both official acts with private ones, meaning actions Mr. Trump took in his role as a candidate for office. It then declares that each charge arises from the entire picture.

Among the accusations: Mr. Trump spread false claims of voter fraud, plotted to recruit false slates of electors from swing states, pressured Vice President Mike Pence to use their existence to block Congress’s certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory, and urged lawmakers to use the attack on the Capitol by his supporters to delay any vote.

As of yet, no court has decided which of Mr. Trump’s actions are considered official presidential conduct, versus private, unofficial campaign activity. But during oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Amy Coney Barrett floated the possibility that Mr. Smith could “just proceed based on the private conduct and drop the official conduct.”

Crucially, however, a lawyer for Mr. Smith, Michael R. Dreeben, said that even if the court ruled out basing charges on Mr. Trump’s official actions, prosecutors believed that they could still lawfully present evidence about the official conduct as relevant context that would help jurors understand Mr. Trump’s private acts.

“There’s really an integrated conspiracy here that had different components,” Mr. Dreeben said. Mr. Trump, he added, used his official powers to try to ensure his private efforts to overturn the election were more likely to succeed, and the jury will need to see the entire picture to understand the sequence, why each step occurred and the gravity of the conduct.

Mr. Dreeben added that the facts of Mr. Trump’s official acts are relevant for interpreting his “knowledge and intent” about his private conduct.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, D. John Sauer, urged the court to adopt a very different remedy. Not only should it find that Mr. Trump had immunity for his official actions, he said, but it should omit them from the case. Still, he acknowledged that Mr. Trump could be charged over private actions while he was president.

“The official stuff has to be expunged completely from the indictment before the case can go forward,” Mr. Sauer maintained.

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“Michigan AG executes search warrants on Google and X in ongoing 2020 fake electors probe”

Marshall Cohen for CNN:

Google and X, formerly Twitter, recently provided hundreds of files to Michigan prosecutors for their 2020 election subversion probe, complying with search warrants that investigators obtained after CNN revealed secret social media accounts belonging to pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who played a major role in the fake electors plot.

The previously unreported warrants gave prosecutors access to new Chesebro emails and his private direct messages on Twitter. The warrants make clear that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is still gathering new information in her probe, nine months after she charged the state’s fake electors with forgery and other crimes for signing certificates falsely claiming Donald Trump won the state in 2020.

A top member of her team testified last week that the investigation is ongoing and that Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, which is not expected to go to trial before the November election.

Michigan is among a number of states to investigate fake electors schemes. Just last week, Arizona prosecutors filed criminal charges against the pro-Trump electors there and allies of the former president who were involved in the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

According to the new documents provided to Michigan prosecutors, which were obtained by CNN, Chesebro fruitlessly tried to bring several controversial pro-Trump figures to Washington, DC, to watch his “fake electors” strategy unfold on January 6, 2021.

He offered to pay for airfare and lodging at Trump’s upscale DC hotel for former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, as well as for the founder of the Gateway Pundit conspiracy website, among others. It doesn’t appear that anyone accepted his offers.

These messages also show how Chesebro aggressively reached out to conservative pundits and right-wing figures after Trump lost the 2020 election, prodding them to publicly promote his long-shot theories for how to subvert the Electoral College process….

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Rick Hasen’s Live Blog of the Supreme Court’s Oral Argument Over Trump’s Claim of Immunity in the Federal Election Subversion Case (Updates completed)

[This post has been updated.]

After a couple of hours of oral argument, it appears that the Supreme Court is unlikely to embrace either Donald Trump’s extreme position—that would seem to give immunity for a president who ordered an assassination of a rival or staged a coup—or the government’s position that a former president is not absolutely immune even for his or her official acts. Conservatives on the Court are going to make it hard to prosecute a former president for most crimes. But they are likely to reject some of the most extreme, insane, authoritarian arguments that were made by Trump’s lawyer.

The final opinion will likely come closer to the government’s position, but it will almost certainly result in a divided set of opinions (which take more time to draft) and a lot of work on remand to rework the results of the case. The bottom line is that Trump is likely to get what he wants—a further delay of this election subversion case, maybe pushing it to after the election. If that happens, the public won’t get the benefit of having a jury determine before the election if Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. Further, if Trump is elected in 2024, he can end this and the other federal prosecution against him. He also is likely to try to pardon himself. And the Supreme Court will be complicit in much of this.

From earlier:

I have called the federal case against Donald Trump for attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election perhaps the most important case in U.S. history, at least when it comes to our democracy. That case should have gone to trial last month, but the case got put on hold when Donald Trump filed an interlocutory appeal (that is, an appeal in the middle of trial proceedings) arguing that he is absolutely immune from any criminal prosecution for any acts he undertook as President. Trump lost that argument in the trial court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, on a somewhat expedited basis, but not on the basis that Jack Smith, the special counsel, had asked for (he originally wanted the Court to leapfrog over the D.C. Circuit but the Court said no). Trump already may have effectively won by running out the clock so a trial could not happen before the election. This is the last argument day of the term, and I would not expect an opinion until the very end of the Supreme Court’s term in late June or early July, unless there’s movement to expedite following oral argument.

What I was listening for: how much is there a focus on Trump’s actions in trying to subvert the election? Is there a path to saying that at least such interference is not immune, leaving other immunity issues to another day? Is the Court going to be worried about a slippery slope of potential criminal prosecutions of former presidents after they leave office?

Below the fold you will find my notes that I took as argument went forward:

Continue reading Rick Hasen’s Live Blog of the Supreme Court’s Oral Argument Over Trump’s Claim of Immunity in the Federal Election Subversion Case (Updates completed)
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