Category Archives: fraudulent fraud squad

“Trump campaign documents give inside look at fake-elector plan”

WaPo:

At the time, the gatherings seemed a slapdash, desperate attempt to mimic President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.

But internal campaign emails and memos revealthat the convening of the fake electors appeared to be a much more concerted strategy, intended to give Vice President Mike Pence a reason to declare the outcome of the election was somehow in doubt on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was to preside over the congressional counting of the electoral college votes.

The documents show Trump’s team pushed ahead and urged the electors to meet — then pressured Pence to cite the alternate Trump slates — even as various Trump lawyers acknowledged privately they did not have legal validity and the gatherings had not been in compliance with state laws….

The shifting internal explanations over whether the elector strategy could be considered legitimate was typified in two emails sent in late December by Eastman, a constitutional law professor who was a leading proponent of the idea. In an email sent on Dec. 19 to a California activist with whom Eastman exchanged periodic notes about the election, Eastman wrote that the electors would be “dead on arrival in Congress.” His reasoning — no state legislature had acted to certify them as valid.

Just four days later, however, Eastman wrote to other Trump advisers that he believed Pence could indeed recognize the Trump electors on Jan. 6, apparently despite their lack of state legislative certification. “The fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrate the uncertainty of either. That should be enough,” he wrote.

Neither a lawyer for Eastman nor a spokesman for Trump’s campaign responded to requests for comment.

The emails show some Trump advisers began strategizing just days after the election about how to construct a legal argument for advancing their own electors, even though laws in every state hold that electors are determined by the certified vote of the people.

In particular, they started mulling whether state legislatures, which in a number of key states were controlled by the GOP, could appoint Trump electors even if the certified results showed Biden won.

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“Texas Republicans Approve Far-Right Platform Declaring Biden’s Election Illegitimate”

NYT:

The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”

The platform was voted on in Houston at the state party’s convention, which concluded on Saturday….

The state party’s resolution embracing the baseless 2020 stolen-election claims stated that “substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas significantly affected the results in five key states in favor of” Mr. Biden. The state party, the resolution continued, rejected “the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”

The resolution encouraged Republicans to “show up to vote” in November, and to “bring your friends and family, volunteer for your local Republicans and overwhelm any possible fraud.”

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NYT on “2000 Mules”/True the Vote Nonsense; Come for the Part Where Greg Phillip Says His Method to Track Supposed Voter Fraud is a “Trade Secret”; Stay for the Von Spakovsky Lie About Federal Law and Ballot Collection

NYT:

The film, directed by the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, is based in part on an erroneous premise: that getting paid to deliver other people’s ballots is illegal not just in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia where True the Vote centered its research and where third-party delivery of ballots is not allowed in most cases, but in every state.

What’s more, the film claims, but never shows in its footage, that individual “mules” stuffed drop box after drop box. (Mr. Phillips said such footage exists, but Mr. D’Souza said it wasn’t included because “it’s not easy to tell from the images themselves that it is the same person.”) Those claims are purportedly backed up by tracking cellphone data, but the film’s methods of analysis have been pilloried in numerous factchecks. (True the Vote declined to offer tangible proof — Mr. Phillips calls his methodology a “trade secret.”)

More broadly, Ms. Engelbrecht has said that the surge of mail-in voting in 2020 was part of a Marxist plot, aided by billionaires including George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg, to disrupt American elections, rather than a legitimate response to the coronavirus pandemic….

Mr. Phillips, whose firm OpSec does data analysis for True the Vote, is perhaps best known for making a fantastical claim in 2017 that more than three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election, which was amplified by Mr. Trump but never backed up with evidence. Mr. Phillips is also an adviser to Get Georgia Right, a political action committee that received $500,000 from Mr. Trump’s Save America PAC this past March 25, the day after Mr. Phillips and Ms. Engelbrecht advanced their 2020 vote-fraud theories to a legislative committee in Wisconsin. Mr. Phillips said he had “received zero money” from Get Georgia Right, which backed Mr. Trump’s favored and failed governor-primary candidate, David Perdue.

Mr. Phillips and Ms. Engelbrecht have become controversial even within the hard-right firmament. They are embroiled in litigation with True the Vote’s largest donor, and Ms. Engelbrecht has feuded with Cleta Mitchell, a leading Trump ally and elections lawyer. John Fund, a prominent conservative journalist who was once a booster of Ms. Engelbrecht, has implored donors to shun her, according to videotape provided to The New York Times by Documented, a nonprofit news site.

“I would not give her a penny,” Mr. Fund said at a meeting of members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group of right-wing leaders, in the summer of 2020. “She’s a good person who’s been led astray. Don’t do it.”…

The group has not presented any evidence that the ballots themselves — as opposed to their delivery — were improper. “I want to make very clear that we’re not suggesting that the ballots that were cast were illegal ballots. What we’re saying is that the process was abused,” Ms. Engelbrecht said in Wisconsin. In an interview, she backtracked, but when asked to provide evidence of improper votes, she only pointed to previous accusations unrelated to the 2020 general election.

A repeated contention of the documentary is that getting paid to deliver other peoples’ ballots is illegal in every state. Mr. D’Souza emailed The New York Times a citation to a federal statute that outlaws getting paid to vote — and does not discuss delivering other people’s ballots. Hans von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation fellow, appears in the movie agreeing that the practice is outlawed nationwide, but in 2019 he wrote that it was “perfectly legal” in some states for “political guns-for-hire” to collect ballots. (Asked about the discrepancy, Mr. von Spakovsky said he believed the practice is illegal based on federal law.)

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NYT: Federal Grand Jury Looking at Trump Lawyers Eastman, Giuliani, Ellis in Connection with Fake Electors Scheme

NYT:

The Justice Department has stepped up its criminal investigation into the creation of alternate slates of pro-Trump electors seeking to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election, with a particular focus on a team of lawyers that worked on behalf of President Donald J. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

A federal grand jury in Washington has started issuing subpoenas in recent weeks to people linked to the alternate elector plan, requesting information about several lawyers including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and one of his chief legal advisers, John Eastman, one of the people said.

The subpoenas also seek information on other pro-Trump lawyers like Jenna Ellis, who worked with Mr. Giuliani, and Kenneth Chesebro, who wrote memos supporting the elector scheme in the weeks after the election.

A top Justice Department official acknowledged in January that prosecutors were trying to determine whether any crimes were committed in the scheme.

Under the plan, election officials in seven key swing states put forward formal lists of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College on the grounds that the states would be shown to have swung in favor of Mr. Trump once their claims of widespread election fraud had been accepted. Those claims were baseless, and all seven states were awarded to Mr. Biden.

It is a federal crime to knowingly submit false statements to a federal agency or agent for an undue end. The alternate elector slates were filed with a handful of government bodies, including the National Archives.

The focus on the alternate electors is only one of the efforts by the Justice Department to broaden its vast investigation of hundreds of rioters who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the past few months, grand jury subpoenas have also been issued seeking information about a wide array of people who organized Mr. Trump’s rally near the White House that day, and about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning the event or tried to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election.

The widening and intensifying Justice Department inquiry also comes as the House select committee investigating the efforts to overturn the election and the Jan. 6 assault prepares for public hearings next month.

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David Purdue Won’t Commit to Accepting Tonight’s Election Results

And it went downhill from there according to AJC’s “The Jolt:”

His final major campaign stop before Tuesday’s primary was not a mega-rally in exurban Georgia or a gathering with his closest friends and supporters in his middle Georgia hometown. 

Instead, it was a suburban Wild Wing Cafe in Dunwoody where he piggybacked off far-right radio host John Fredericks’ tour promoting Donald Trump’s fake election conspiracies. 

The event started with a combative press conference in the eatery’s outdoor patio, where Perdue sparred with reporters over whether Trump is distancing himself from his endorsement, criticizing an NBC News journalist for refusing to retract a recent article. 

He called polls showing him trailing Kemp by wide margins “full of crap” and claimed that media outlets, including Fox News, were tailoring their results against his supporters. And he said he wouldn’t necessarily accept the results of the election. 

“Depends on if there’s fraud or not,” Perdue said. 

But it was his follow-up interview with Fredericks from the stage that brought his teetering campaign to new depths. 

He accused Stacey Abrams, who would be the first Black governor in Georgia history, of “demeaning her own race” when describing the state’s economic problems. 

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As Two Republican U.S. Senate Candidates Anticipate a Recount in Razor-Thin Race, Neither Attacked the Legitimacy of the Vote Counting or the Ballots

This is what happens in a very close race but one that does not pit a Republican against a Democrat:

The legal fight for every single vote in Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary has begun.

Armies of attorneys representing David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, separated by a razor-thin margin in the ongoing vote count, had been descending on the state when a federal appeals court jolted the process Friday.

Shortly after 4 p.m., the court ruled that undated mail ballots from Lehigh County in last fall’s election should be counted. That sent counties and campaigns scrambling because state courts had previously held that Pennsylvania law required voters to date their ballots or have them thrown out.

Less than 90 minutes later, the McCormick campaign sent an email blast to lawyers for the state and all 67 counties.

“We trust that in light of the Third Circuit’s judgment you will advise your respective boards to count any and all absentee or mail-in ballots that were timely received but were set aside/not counted simply because those ballots lacked a voter-provided date on the outside of the envelope,” wrote attorney Ron Hicks. “To the extent you are not willing to provide this advice, we ask for a formal hearing before your boards on this issue.”

Hicks is one of Pennsylvania’s top Republican election lawyers. He and his firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, represented the campaign of then-President Donald Trump as he fought his loss in 2020. Hicks helped file a lawsuit aimed at stopping certification of the results in Pennsylvania before abruptly withdrawing from the case — and from representing Trump — days later.

Both the Oz and McCormick campaigns have brought in small armies of lawyers in recent days. But as they geared up for a bruising legal fight, they did not attack the legitimacy of the votes or the process of counting them, a dramatic contrast to the way Trump and his allies smeared the process in 2020.

As of Saturday afternoon, with more than 1.34 million votes counted in the race, Oz had 1,070 more counted votes than McCormick — a difference of less than 0.08% of the vote. By law, a difference of 0.5% or less would trigger a recount….

The fight over mail ballots now puts McCormick in the position of being a Republican defending a voting method that the GOP has spent the last two years attacking. Trump’s lies about election rigging and fraud have pushed Republicans to generally avoid voting by mail.

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“‘Audit’ records show Cyber Ninjas went deep into debt, despite pro-Trump donations”

AZ Mirror:

Newly released documents by the watchdog group American Oversight show that the Arizona Senate’s partisan review of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County went over its proposed budget and spent more money than it had available to it. 

More than a thousand pages of records that were in the possession of Cyber Ninjas, the now-defunct Florida company the Senate hired to do the review, were released as part of an ongoing lawsuit. Until providing these records, Cyber Ninjas has refused to turn over documents, despite court orders to do so — and daily $50,000 fines that now total $4.3 million

Some of the documents released Tuesday include contracts between Cyber Ninjas and its many subcontractors who worked alongside Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan. The documents offer insights into the scope of work and the amount of money offered to each subcontractor for their work on the so-called “audit.” 

Previously, Cyber Ninjas had released some information about the groups who had funneled money into the “audit” effort, which amounted to approximately $5.7 million from pro-Donald Trump groups. 

A document prepared by an unnamed independent accountant showed that those funds were not able to cover the operating costs of the audit which came in at approximately $8.8 million, the bulk of which was $5.2 million in payroll and labor. The report cited a loss of more than $2.1 million for Cyber Ninjas, though the accounting firm noted that Logan failed to submit balance sheets, statements of cash flows and other documents ordinarily included in financial statements. 

As of Sept. 15, 2021, the accountant’s report also notes that Cyber Ninjas owed “audit” subcontractors more than $1.9 million.

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Occam’s razor and election fraud

I’m hardly the first to think about the relationship between Occam’s razor and election fraud. But a recent movie release has prompted a lot of 2020 claims to resurface (again). As I explained to the Associated Press:

There’s no evidence a massive ballot harvesting scheme dumped a large amount of votes for one candidate into drop boxes, and if there were, it would likely be caught quickly, according to Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa.

“Once you get just a few people involved, people start to reveal the scheme because it unravels pretty quickly,” he said.

Absentee ballots are also verified by signature and tracked closely, often with an option for voters themselves to see where their ballot is at any given time. That process safeguards against anyone who tries to illegally cast extra ballots, according to Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and the director of the Elections Research Project.

“It seems impossible in that system for a nefarious actor to dump lots of ballots that were never requested by voters and were never issued by election officials,” Burden said.

From the reports I’ve seen, I’m amazed at how quickly even extremely small-scale ballot fraud, or even potentially-permissible ballot harvesting, is caught. Consider a scheme in Arizona in the 2020 primary, where two people handled a total of five ballots. Or six people in a local California election involved in the casting of four fraudulent votes. Or a recent plot in Philadelphia where 39 ballots were sent to a single post office box before they were detected (before they could be cast). Even the notorious North Carolina 9th Congressional District election in 2018 had likely fewer than 1000 fraudulent votes (albeit one of the largest episodes in recent history), and the scheme was stopped days after the election with gobs of witnesses, testimony, and evidence.

In short, even small-scale voting fraud operations appear to get exposed. Now, it’s entirely possible (and, frankly, non-falsifiable) that other fraud happens without being exposed. And it’s a reason I’m more sympathetic to prophylactic measures that get at some of the concerns that are tougher to detect.

But think about the size and scope of the allegations here. Fraud at scale is impossible to keep a secret. The notion that thousands of political operatives across several states handling hundreds of thousands of ballots, and able to so expertly cover their tracks in one of the greatest conspiracies in American history, defies logic. It’s a mission that would make Seal Team Six look like a kindergarten classroom. Respectfully, no political campaign in North America is remotely this competent. Add to it the fact that the rumors swirling about for months (not approaching years), so far, has yielded nothing that has enticed even the most aggressive prosecutor in any of many states.

And so, to Occam’s razor: there are much simpler explanations than a vast interstate extensive conspiracy to commit fraud at scale, from innocent reasons, to misunderstanding data, to, frankly, willfully misrepresenting the facts to profit off the public.

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“GOP donor described botched vote fraud probe in recording, prosecutors say”

WaPo:

On Oct. 17, 2020, influential GOP donor Steven F. Hotze made an urgent request during a phone call with a top federal prosecutor in Texas, according to a court filing Fridayby the Houston district attorney’s office.

Hotze claimed that private investigators funded by his nonprofit group had been trailing a mysterious white van as it shuttled phony ballots around the city in an effort to rig the upcoming election. He asked if federal authorities would help stop the van and apprehend its driver, but he added that one of his hard-nosed investigators was prepared to do the job himself, according to the filing by prosecutors in Harris County that included a transcriptof the exchange.

“In fact, he told me last night, ‘hell … the guy’s gonna have a wreck tomorrow night. I’m going to run into him and I’m gonna make a citizen’s arrest,” Hotze told the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Ryan Patrick,a Trump appointee, who recorded the conversation.

Two days after the call, the private investigator Hotze had named ran a white van driven by an air-conditioning repairman off the road in Houston and held the driver at gunpoint during a futile search for forged ballots, county prosecutors allege.

Police have said the man was innocent. His truck contained repair parts.

The filing Friday illuminates one of the most extreme tactics that far-right groups have employed in an effort to substantiate former president Donald Trump’s unproven allegations of widespread voting fraud in the election he lost. Groups have tried to gain access to sensitive election equipment, pushed for audits of the 2020 election by handpicked outside groups and recruited volunteers to scrutinize local election officials, sometimes leading to threats of violence.

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Trump Records Robocall in Georgia Secretary of State Race Supporting Candidate Who Parrots Trump’s False Claim of a Stolen 2020 Election

AJC:

In a new and rambling robocall this week for U.S. Rep. Jody Hice that we got our hands on, the former president goes on for more than a minute and a half, talking about himself, repeating disproven election conspiracies, and floating a new one.

Hello, this is President Donald J. Trump, hopefully your all time favorite president of all time,” Trump begins.

“Georgia has one of the worst secretary of states in America, and I mean the worst, RINO Brad Raffensperger.”

The former president then accuses Raffensperger of being “perhaps in collusion with Stacey Abrams, I don’t know if that’s possible, but perhaps,” and praises Hice for his commitment to “free, fair and honest elections.”

Hice was a key Member of Congress in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign following his 2020 election loss and is now Trump’s pick to defeat Raffensperger in the GOP primary.

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“Watch the birth of a right-wing term of art: ‘Ballot trafficking’

Philip Bump for WaPo:

Before we explore the ascent of this phrase, we should dispatch with its implications, as I dispatched with your assumptions that my father was some sort of hardened criminal. Even if True the Vote’s allegations about what occurred are accurate, having third parties submit ballots on behalf of other people was not uniformly illegal in the states included in D’Souza’s documentary during the 2020 election. In Wisconsin, there was no law against collecting ballots from voters and submitting them. In Pennsylvania, collecting ballots was legal. In other states, one could authorize a family member or other person to return a completed ballot on one’s behalf.

This is important because the word “traffic” depends on illegality. When I used it to describe our road trip, I used it inappropriately. When True the Vote’s team used it at a legislative hearing in Wisconsin earlier this year, they were using it inappropriately, too.

And that’s assuming that the allegations about what occurred are even accurate. The Associated Press has a lengthy fact check of D’Souza’s film that makes obvious how much the allegations depend on leaps of logic and insinuations — which is exactly what the phrase “ballot trafficking” is meant to do.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public explored this rhetorical gambit in an analysis published last weekend.

“The term trafficking is usually defined as the dealing or trading of something illegal. The long-standing term ‘vote trafficking,’ for example, has been used in the past to describe systems of buying votes from voters,” the researchers write. “In these cases, the voter’s involvement in fraud renders the vote invalid. This parallels other uses of the term, where traffickers buy and sell illegal items or engage in illegal trade.”

“Illegal ballot collection, on the other hand, does not usually involve illegal votes,” they then point out, adding that “unless it can be shown that the third-party collector modified the ballots, findings are unlikely to cast doubt on previous voting tallies.”

The researchers note that the title of D’Souza’s film, “2000 Mules,” itself adopts the vocabulary of illegal narcotics distribution to cast the process as suspect and illegal.

“The parallel is erroneous,” they write. “If a person takes a ride with a cab that turns out not to be properly licensed by the city, the cabbie is not now a ‘passenger mule’ and the passenger is not being ‘trafficked’ — the passenger is simply a passenger in an illegal cab.”

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“Republican election-deniers elevate races for secretary of state”

AP:

States United Action, a nonpartisan advocacy organization co-founded by Whitman, has been tracking secretary of state races and identified nearly two dozen Republican candidates who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.

That includes John Adams, a former state lawmaker challenging Ohio’s incumbent secretary of state, Frank LaRose, in Tuesday’s GOP primary. Adams has said “there’s no way that Trump lost” and said LaRose wasn’t any different than Stacey Abrams, a Democrat and national voting rights advocate who is running for governor in Georgia.

LaRose hasn’t talked much about the 2020 election in the campaign other than to say it was secure in Ohio and to tout his office’s pursuit of voter fraud cases. This marked a departure following the 2020 vote in which he praised the work of bipartisan election officials in running a smooth election, promoted voter access and presented statistics showing how rare voter fraud is.

Earlier this year, LaRose brushed aside questions about his shifting rhetoric.

“Unfortunately, some people want to make a political issue out of this,” he said. “Of course, it’s right to be concerned about election integrity.”

The pivot was enough to earn him an endorsement from Trump, who is considering another run for president in 2024 and said LaRose was “dedicated to Secure Elections.” LaRose has been touting the endorsement.

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“Evidence mounts of GOP involvement in Trump election schemes”

AP:

Since launching its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 panel has been slowly gaining new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks before the insurrection. Members have asked three GOP lawmakers — Jordan of Ohio, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California — to testify voluntarily. All have refused. Other lawmakers could be called in the coming days.

So far, the Jan. 6 committee has refrained from issuing subpoenas to lawmakers, fearing the repercussions of such an extraordinary step. But the lack of cooperation from lawmakers hasn’t prevented the panel from obtaining new information about their actions.ADVERTISEMENT

The latest court document, submitted in response to a lawsuit from Meadows, contained excerpts from just a handful of the more than 930 interviews the Jan. 6 panel has conducted. It includes information on several high-level meetings nearly a dozen House Republicans attended where Trump’s allies flirted with ways to give him another term.

Among the ideas: naming fake slates of electors in seven swing states, declaring martial law and seizing voting machines….

Despite the warning from the counsel’s office, Trump’s allies moved forward. On Dec. 14, 2020, as rightly chosen Democratic electors in seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — met at their seat of state government to cast their votes, the fake electors gathered as well.

They declared themselves the rightful electors and submitted false Electoral College certificates declaring Trump the true winner of the presidential election in their states.

Those certificates from the “alternate electors” were then sent to Congress, where they were ignored.

The majority of the lawmakers have since denied their involvement in these efforts.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia testified in a hearing in April that she does not recall conversations she had with the White House or the texts she sent to Meadows about Trump invoking martial law.

Gohmert told AP he also does not recall being involved and that he is not sure he could be helpful to the committee’s investigation. Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia played down his actions, saying it is routine for members of the president’s party to be going in and out of the White House to speak about a number of topics. Hice is now running for secretary of state in Georgia, a position responsible for the state’s elections.

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